With the winter season upon us, not everyone has the ability to get outside to practice and play. And while this break may not be your first choice, there are still things you can do to improve in the off-season.
Making changes in the middle of golf season can be difficult as often they are uncomfortable and can lead to some unpredictable misses. For example, if you normally slice your golf ball and you improve your grip this will likely be uncomfortable, and as you adjust you may start hitting pulls and hooks. Your teacher will likely love this because it means you’re on the right track, but for you, it is such a different miss it could be alarming.
So, look at the off-season as a positive. Use this time off to make some of the biggest changes so you come back ready when golf season rolls around again.
1. Improve your grip
Boring? Maybe. But it’s important.
Your grip will determine not only what your clubface looks like at impact, but holding your club properly in your fingers will allow you to have security without tension, which allows for speed and power. Every golfer is built differently and there is no one way to grip the club, but allowing your lead arm to relax and hang to see what position your hand naturally falls is important to knowing what your grip should look like. It also has to match your hip speed and desired ball flight. Have a professional show you how to hold the club, and find a hold that works for you.
2. Perfect your posture in the mirror
Perfect posture will put you in an athletic position to start your swing and help make it easier to consistently make contact with the golf ball. Your posture should be the same from club-to-club, bending forward from your hips so that your chest is over your toes so that your hands can hang directly below your shoulders.
Your posture is one of the best things you can work on in the off-season. Practice in a mirror and see what it looks like when your are balanced forward and your hands truly hang. Ask yourself: Where is your weight in your toes? How far are you from your hands to your thighs when your arms hang? Where does your glove hand line up relative to your laces on your shoes?
We all define what we see when we are set up perfectly for us, and if you can find a way to define this over time, it will be a lot easier to replicate from club to club and be a ton more consistent with contact.
3. Boost your swing speed
We all would love to hit the ball farther. And once you have reasonably consistent contact you can train speed. Learning to swing the club faster requires lack of tension, good fundamentals and training. One of my favorite ways to train is by using the Superspeed golf training system. Their light, medium, heavy system with training protocols really works and this is something that would be great to do inside in the off-season. We have them at home and use them for golf and for baseball for my son. The time isn’t that long and with a little focus, you can learn to hit the ball farther with this system.
4. Get flexible
When a student arrives for a golf lesson, I have to work with what they have as far as strength and flexibility. Improving flexibility takes a bit of time and effort — which makes it a great thing to work on in the off-season. Flexibility allows for a better range of motion as well as your ability to turn athletically. If you feel limited, the Orange Whip can be a great way to help you improve swing length and rotation back and through.
Another important part of necessary flexibility for golf is that your hamstrings are flexible enough to allow you to get into good posture. Just simply bending from your hips and allowing your arms to hang toward the floor can help to loosen your hamstrings which allows you to to bend properly from your hips and get into an athletic golf posture.
5. Putt indoors
One of the quickest ways to lower our golf scores is to be a better putter from short range. When I was a kid, we used to putt all winter long on our carpet to an automatic returning putting machine. I am sure this is part of the reason why I have always been a respectable putter. In the height of golf season, launching golf balls can be a lot more fun than grinding over your short putts, but your winter season is the perfect time to get down to work. We have a Perfect Putting Mat in our home and we use it all the time, but there are lots of options out there.
Not only is the competition fun, but practicing your putting at home is a great way to focus on the simple things that are essential to good putting.
6. Practice with alignment aids
Aiming and aligning properly can “look” wrong when it is right. I find most right-handed players tend to aim too far right and left handed golfers tend to aim too far left due to the fact that in most cases your eyes are inside the target line. Simply putting two parallel clubs on the ground so that the line in between points to your target, practicing setting up parallel with your body lines and glancing to your intended target can help to train your eyes to what it looks like to aim properly. I think the most efficient path to having good aim and alignment is to make peace that it may never look correct, but rather to just determine how far left or right it looks when your set up station puts you into a perfect set up.
7. Chip indoors
Being great at little shots around the green can help you convert an incredible number of up and downs and achieve lower scores. A small practice area inside your house can be really fun and hopefully not cause too much indoor damage. A small chipping net and some foam balls can be a great way to learn to set up properly, be willing to hit your carpet and learn how to get your short game shots into the air and also control distance when you are able to get back outside and onto the course.
8. Upgrade your equipment
Taking the time to go to a proper club fitter or try some new clubs at an indoor retailer can really be a fun way to make sure you have the best clubs for you. We publish a ClubTest issue and this can be a great way to find out what’s in the market to see what club might help your game. Taking the time to go to a fitter will give you the opportunity to try all the clubs and the knowledge base of these fitters, like those at our sister company True Spec Golf, can pay big dividends down the road.
9. Plan a trip
It is always so exciting to have something to look forward to. Find a group of friends and plan a golf trip to help break up the off-season. There are so many great golf resorts in warm climates that would love to host your trip. Many of these resorts have amazing instructors. Take some of the time in the beginning of your trip to take a group lesson. This will help to improve your game and enjoy your time on course. We all know it is so much more fun to play good golf.
10. Find a teacher you like
There is an amazing amount of golf instruction online. Should you choose to blindly watch these videos, I can almost promise you will not only be incredibly confused but most likely make your game worse trying to sift through all of the varying information. I suggest you find a teacher online that speaks to you. Find a teacher who makes sense to you and when you do, try to stick to that person or maybe two. Limit the voices you listen to and when you do, you may find someone who can help you to better understand and improve your game. I am proud to share with my students two free videos on Amazon Prime for full swing and short game. I use it as a supplement to my lessons and while the information is very basic, it is fundamental and it hopefully helps golfers out there to under better understand why fundamentals are so important and how to improve your own game.
Making the best of your off-season time can help to lead to a more enjoyable golf season. Working on the minor details that lead to major improvements like set up and short game as well as flexibility and speed when you have free time will pay off immensely in lower scores and more fun.