Today’s post comes from Rob, the proud owner of HittingTheGreen.com and an avid golf fan. He’s chosen to share a few of his favorite tips to help keep your golf game fresh during the winter.
Golf is seasonal. It’s rarely too hot to play a round but in winter the wind, rain and snow can stop us playing. The expression “fair weather golfer” has become a little derisory; c’mon, a bit of wind and rain won’t hurt you!
The winter months are a perfect time for practice
If you’ve just taken up this most difficult of sports, don’t let the weather stop you playing. If the weather gets too bad, then get down to the range. But if you do manage to get to the range, don’t just thrash sixty balls like most people do and feel really proud of yourself. Doing that is pretty pointless. The best way to practice on the range is to hit every ball with a purpose and focus.
Start with a pitching wedge. It doesn’t matter what distance you hit the ball with a normal swing; your aim is to hit 10 shots as close to the 100-yard flag as possible. Choke down a little to get more control if you feel it will help. This is a good tip for the average golfer. Choking down will probably mean you won’t hit as far but in the cold winter months, the ball doesn’t travel as far anyway.
If you have committed to learn this wonderful sport, then you have already purchased the best golf clubs for beginners, so use them properly to practice.
Next, try the 7-iron. Your only objective is to hit 10 shots as close to the 150-yard flag as possible. Focus on that, nothing else. Give yourself a clap on the back each time you get close.
Give your 3-iron a go and try and get 10 balls as close as possible to the 200-yard flag. I know that using a 3-iron is one of the most difficult clubs in your bag, but keep practicing with a long, slow swing, and, most important, keep a solid balance.
You get the idea. Always hit balls with purpose and focus. Don’t waste them.
Ok, I’ll allow 5 hits with the driver. Got to keep warm!
Keep warm and dry
Talking of keeping warm and dry, even if you are on the range, but more importantly if you have made it to the golf course, wear a woolly hat and weather-proof or water-proof clothing. Pack a spare glove in your bag, your first one will get wet and that’s not nice! Take a golfing umbrella with you in case it rains, and you can keep your towel dry hanging under the umbrella. Good tip. Buy some winter mittens; it’s very important to keep your hands warm.
Beginners don’t always do this but it’s important to warm up before any round of golf, especially when its cold. Make an effort to arrive at the club an hour early to do some stretching exercises, swing a long club around your body parallel to the ground. And do some practice pitching and putting to get used to the speed of the greens in the bad weather.
How to play into the wind
For a beginner, a strong wind can be disconcerting. What to do? You can learn a few simple tips for playing into the wind.
Don’t fight the wind, don’t try and hit the cover off the ball. With the wind behind you, make an easier golf swing because the wind will help the ball flight.
Playing into the wind needs more attention.
- Keep the ball low, use a club with less loft, choke down a little for more control
- Swing at 75% of normal to reduce backspin, backspin will make the ball rise steeply
- Play the ball a little further back in your stance
- Your weight should be more on your forward foot
Beginner golfer sometimes don’t understand what winter rules are.
The main thing you need to understand about winter rules, is that they are nothing to do with the USGA or PGA, they are local rules applied by your golf club committee, and they only apply while there is a notice up somewhere saying “Winter rules apply”.
So, preferred lies, is not some rule that automatically comes into effect in November. It is a local rule that the club committee has decided to apply because of the inclement conditions. Also, you should find out what distance you can move your ball; 6 inches or a club length, maybe, and never not nearer the hole. Don’t forget to mark your ball before you pick it up, and remember you are only allowed one pick up per stroke, and you can only mark, lift, clean and replace your ball if it lands on a closely-mown area. You are not allowed take a preferred lie from the rough.
If you don’t follow these rules when making a preferred lie, you will incur a penalty of one stroke for moving the ball in play and the ball must be replaced.
So, be aware of and use the local rules but don’t break them.
If the weather is so bad, you’ve decided to stay in. Fair enough, there are some things you can do to practice even at home.
Putting practice in the warmth of your home can be very enjoyable and useful. There are no humps and bumps to contend with but getting the speed or pace right is hugely important.
You could buy a small artificial turf mat for practicing full swings in your garden. Don’t go hitting balls over the fence though!
Winter is also a good time to catch up on reading those golfing magazines and which often contain some great tips.
Regular exercise and stretching during the winter months is great to get ready for your first Spring round of golf.
Enjoy your winter golf!