It’s awful, isn’t it? You practiced throughout the spring, perfected your golf game in the summer, and really found a groove in the fall only to lose all of that hard work once the snow starts to fly. It happens every year although we never really figure out a way to fight. To be honest, we get rusty during the winter.
I know that no golfer likes to admit it, but we all get rusty during the winter. We don’t get a chance to play golf while there’s snow on the ground, and the 20-degree weather doesn’t exactly make you jump off your couch to go practice either. So how can we try to keep some of the improvements that we made during the summer months for next year without hating every moment of putting on a small synthetic green in the basement? Stay tuned for some of our favorite ways of getting our golf fix during the winter months.
Chip, Putt, and Swing at Home
Even though the weather outside might not be great, that’s no excuse to not work on the parts of your game that don’t require as much room to practice. One of the best things you can do for your game during the winter is just maintaining the feel of your short game by hitting a couple putts either on a putting mat or just at a water bottle. It might seem boring, but it’s a great way to keep a smooth stroke during the winter and pass those long commercial breaks during hockey matches.
Along with putting, chipping and swinging a club are both great ways to practice at home. While it might not have the same feel as chipping off grass, chipping some whiffle balls into a cup or bucket is a great way to simulate contact with a ball on a tight lie and is one of the ways I like to practice with my dad during the winter months.
Similarly, if you have the space to do so, simply swinging a club without having to hit a shot is a great way to engrain a swing fix that you implemented during the last season. It’s also a great way to get in the 100 swings a day that Hank Haney recommends to help put a swing into memory.
Now, while these may not be the most glamorous ways to practice during the off-season, every little bit helps, and taking 15-20 minutes a few times a week is almost guaranteed to help you shake off the rust quicker once the weather warms up.
Golf Ranges and Indoor Simulators
Another great (and much more exciting) way to work on your game during the winter is to practice at an indoor driving range. Although they may not be that common, if you live near a metropolitan area there’s likely at least one within driving distance. Indoor ranges are great not only because you get to actually hit a physical ball, but also because you get to feel the full swing of the club and contact with the ball which more closely simulates a real golf shot.
Driving ranges do have their limitations, however. While it is nice to be able to hit a real ball and take a full swing, the shots you’re hitting at the range are not incredibly comparable to an actual course.
For starters, you can’t take a divot at an indoor driving range which can really mess with your irons if you’re used to taking a sizable chunk of grass out with each swing. Along with this, driving ranges almost never have obstacles to hit around or wind and other elements, which means the experience is not incredibly similar to playing a round of golf on a course.
One great way to combat this, however, is to play a round of golf on a simulator. While you might not get to track the ball flight of your shot the same way you would at a driving range, using a golfing simulator is a fun way to get your golf fix in during the winter. Simulators are constantly improving and many now have wind, rain, different lies and ways to track the spin you put on your shot with pinpoint accuracy in order to provide you with a reasonably authentic experience.
These simulators can be fun and entertaining but they are also expensive to rent out or buy and that makes them less of a practical option for consistent practice during the winter.
Go South or Play Real Golf
Our final way to practice during the winter is one of the most obvious and also one of the best options golfers have to keep their game together during the winter. You must simply find a way to play.
Easier said than done!
Although it may tough to play during the winter, it’s not impossible, and one great way to get some golf in during the offseason is to a take a trip to a more hospitable golfing climate. Whether this means leaving your state or leaving your country, taking a golf trip can be a great way to enjoy a weekend with friends and keep your golf game in check while you wait to the weather to warm up back home.
There are dozens of golf trip planning websites and many golf courses offer special “stay and play” rates for hotel rooms and golf rounds for those of us looking to take a small vacation. While this option might take a little more planning than the others, it’s almost always a great experience to go golfing somewhere warm during the winter months.
Finally, your last option is to just head out and play golf back home. While this doesn’t necessarily have to be on a course, Golf Digest has determined that a golfer can play a perfectly enjoyable round as long as temperatures are above 35°F. Though this might be a little farfetched at this time of the year, in a couple months spring will be on its way and we may very well get some weather that’s nice enough to squeeze in an early round as we prepare for the 2018 season.
So there you have it, a couple easy ways to keep your game going during some of our colder months. Personally, I love going to indoor driving ranges but I’m sure some of you might have different preferences. What is your favorite way to practice during the winter? And how guilty are you of slacking on your golf game once the weather goes south? Let me know down below and wish me the best of luck staying warm here in chilly Wisconsin.