How to make your golf game last between seasons
With short days and colder weather, wintertime usually means retiring your clubs and hunkering down, at least for a few weeks. Yet it can be a time of opportunity. “When we’re in the spring and summer months, we focus on what the golf ball’s doing,” says Wakefield Plantation Director of Golf Josh Points. “In the winter months, you have an opportunity to focus on how your body shifts and rotates during a swing. What can you do to improve your personal mobility and physical fitness?”
As it turns out, you can do plenty — in much less time than a round on the course would take.
Time to Focus
Points knows firsthand how beneficial the winter can be. At the Wakefield Plantation Learning Center, two indoor-outdoor bays and an indoor putting area are equipped with video technology to offer players instant feedback on their swing. “Carl Pettersson, David Mathis, Cameron Percy — in the winter months, we see a ton of our tour players use the indoor practice ranges,” Points says. “It takes them out of the elements and into a more controlled environment.” Points says that, once there, “they can focus on the things they’re trying to change in their golf swing.” Likewise, he says golfers of every level can treat the off season as a “time to change things physically in your game. Winter is a great time to focus on certain changes that you postpone all spring and summer.”
Sedgefield Country Club Director of Fitness Sherri Tallant agrees. Tallant is not just a personal trainer but is TPI certified, which means she’s gained a deep understanding of how the body’s strengths and weaknesses affect a golfer’s swing. “In the spring and the summer, most of our members’ time should be spent playing golf,” she acknowledges. “But in the winter, don’t just put your clubs away and forget about your golf game until spring.” Tallant recommends going to your club’s fitness center or multi-purpose room — any space outfitted with mirrors. “Just watch your golf swing,” she advises.
“When you have that time in the winter, you can focus on practicing and changing small movements,” Points agrees. He recommends investing in (or borrowing from a fellow member!) a weighted club. “Practicing your swing with it throughout the winter is a nice way to keep your game in shape and prepare for your schedule in the spring.”
Even more specifically, Tallant says cooler months are the best time to start working on your short game. “Putting and chipping tend to be the two things that get rusty the fastest,” she says. “Stick to practicing in the mirror and you’ll stay tee-time ready come spring.”
Less time on the course also means more time to spend on stretching and strengthening. “In the off season, golfers should spend more time in the gym doing things like yoga classes,” Tallant says. Sedgefield offers a six-week yoga program that meets for an hour once weekly, and most of her members sign up for two back-to-back six-week sessions. “Through yoga, you’re not necessarily making your muscles longer, but you’re keeping them from getting shorter, which they would do if you don’t use them,” Tallant explains. “Strength training and stretching lengthens that muscle right back out and helps with rotation, which speeds up your clubhead speed. It’s absolutely awesome for golfers to do in the off season. There’s a lot of really good things about yoga.”
If your club doesn’t offer yoga opportunities, focus on flexibility and mobility in any way possible. Points says it just takes a moment of self-scanning. “What parts of your body make-up need improvement? Are your hips tight? Are your abs weak? If you’ve had back pain throughout the season, it’s probably not going to go away. Now is an opportunity to get a little bit stronger and alleviate any pain. You have time to focus on body movements, from big muscles to small rotations.” Hip stretches, core strengthening, and a combination of leg strengthening and stretching are crucial, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned player.
“It does not have to be very time consuming,” Tallant insists. “You don’t need hours in the gym or a lot of heavy weight lifting in order to get huge benefits.”
Beyond group classes or home stretching, your club’s pro team is a great resource for ideas to stay tunedup. “This is a time to reset and prepare for next year,” Points says. “Your golf swing, your golf game, your flexibility, everything else.”
Video Series: Tips from the Pros
Visit the McConnell Golf You Tube channel or watch below for step-by-step instruction from Josh Points as he and Assistant Golf Professional Erica Britt explain indoor practice tips to keep your golf swing in good shape during the winter months.