Winter is the Perfect Time to Work on Your Game
By Mike Paukovits
It’s the middle of December and due to snow on the ground and decreasing temperatures, our access the driving range and golf course are now limited. But even though we live in an area where the weather is too cold and sometimes makes it impossible to go to the range or play golf, we can still satisfy our itch to work on our golf games during the off-season. If you are a die-hard golfer who is unable to get away to a warmer climate this winter, you will need to find other ways to work on your game! Believe it or not, the winter season is the perfect time to improve a few neglected areas of your golf game including: putting, chipping, pitching practice, and even working on your setup and full swing.
Putting – All it takes is a smooth indoor carpet or a putting mat made of artificial turf with a hole. Putt into a glass at the end of hallway, or you can purchase a metal putting cup. A great drill while putting indoors is to try to make three putts in a row from three, four, and five, all the way up to ten feet. The goal is to make three in a row before you can move to the next distance. Another drill is to put a quarter underneath your ball and keep your eyes on the quarter as it drops to the ground after you’ve hit the putt and completed your stroke. A training aide to help your putting path, such as alignment sticks for a putting track, is also very helpful. Do you have a pre-putt routine? If not, now is the time to make develop one. I use a black sharpie line to help square up my putter head, this makes putting alignment just about automatic.
Chipping and Pitching – As a junior golfer I would try to chip into a small net off of a mat in our finished basement. This was great practice because it forced me to have a good setup, become more accurate, and use proper technique because if I missed the net I ran the risk of breaking something! We also had a ping pong set in the basement and I soon discovered that a safer way to work on my chipping was to use ping pong balls. The damage you can do is little to none and you can get a great feel for creating backspin. Focus on a good setup with a narrow stance and weight forward, slight hinge during backswing to get the club up, strike down on the ball to pinch it off of the carpet, and maintain a firm left wrist position through impact. For pitching, give yourself a small obstacle to go over in order to force you to hit the ball higher with more hinge during the backswing.
Full Swing – If you have the space, set up a net and hitting mat in your basement or garage. Swinging in front of a mirror is one of my favorites; you get instant visual feedback on how you are doing. You should have an idea of what positions to look for during your backswing and downswing. Mirror work is also good for developing better posture at address. Work on a contrast drill in order to help your posture. First, setup with too much knee flex and a rounded back on purpose. Next, setup with no knee flex and standing very tall with your upper body. Now setup in between those two extremes and have a slight knee flex, bend over from the hip flexors while keeping your back flat and relaxing your head so your eyes are able to comfortably look down where the ball will be located. Our brains need contrast in order to develop these skills and the mirror will give you visual confirmation of what an athletic setup should look like and what the wrong way looks like as well.
This type of training can sometimes be more valuable than hitting a large bucket of balls on the range. So don’t wait until the snow melts or the weather improves, you can do a lot to improve your golf game during the cold months. You should also be setting your golf related goals for the 2014 season. Remember, you only have from now until the end of December to purchase discounted lesson packages. This is a great time to set up your lessons for next season and to make a commitment to improvement. I’m excited to help you achieve your goals and become my next success story!