Can a long layoff actually benefit your golf game? Here are 6 ways to make it happen

A golfer makes a swing.

Can time away from golf actually help your game?

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Ed. Note: After a long winter layoff (which has been extended with the various shutdowns in parts of the country) most everyone’s game has some rust. That’s where we come in. Over the next several weeks, we’ll answer the questions every golfer is wondering when it comes to getting their games sharp for the 1st tee. Today, we discuss how you can use a long layoff to help your game.

Long layoffs away from golf are usually associated with rust and growing pains as you ease back into the swing of things. However, sometimes the down time can actually mean benefits for your game — in more ways than you may think. Here are six ways to use a long layoff to actually help your golf game.

1. Take a long look in the mirror

Nearly everyone you know — your pro, your playing partners, maybe even your sports psychologist — has told you about that hitch in your swing. Now is the time to reflect on that problem, and I mean literally reflect, by swinging in front of a mirror so you can see and FEEL what a better you is like. Don’t be afraid to take slow-motion swings here, and throw in a few extra reps. We are trying to build some better pathways not only in your swing but in your mind.

2. Engage a friend

If you and a regular teammate both have swing issues, try teaming up and practicing together — so long as you remain at least six feet apart. It just may be that with practice and improvement you can turn your team into the dynamic duo. You might even challenge each other with a friendly competition. Set a time and goal for whose swing will look better by a certain date. You can have others in your social circle serve as judges. And if you can’t find a voting constituency, just put it up on YouTube. I guarantee you’ll get a robust response.

3. Get organized

By now you’ve organized everything else in your home and yard. Why not sit down and put a plan together for exactly when and how you can practice and play. Make it a detailed blueprint. How many minutes on the full swing? How much time on the putting green? How much time stretching and exercising? I’m willing to bet that if you take the time to draw up a plan now, you will wind up practicing more efficiently, and playing better right off the bat.

4. Tap into technology

I don’t mean Trackman, FlightScope, SkyTrak, force plates and neuro-proprioceptor sensors. I’m talking about what’s in your bag. If you have clubs that are more than five years old you are probably 5 to 10 yards shorter off the tee than you should be. You’re also likely hitting 1-2 fewer solid shots per round than you deserve. If replacing your entire set is too much for your budget, settle on just one club that you think will help the most. It’s a relatively small investment with big potential payoffs.

5. Dream of playing again

I know. You’ve been doing this already. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. Set aside three minutes twice a day and play a few holes in your mind. A par-3, a par-4 and a par-5 from your home course will do, though they could also be holes from a course you dream of playing.  Close your eyes and see yourself stepping up to the tee with your new swing and clubs (complete the mental picture by taking note of such details as what you’re wearing, the temperature outside, the wind and more). Hit your shot, and be realistic about the results (they should NOT all be perfect; maybe you even hit it in the bunker and make a great up-and-down). Picture yourself in a variety of situations and places (and how you are going to REACT to them)  because when you get back out there, I suspect you will find yourself in exactly the same circumstances. There’s no substitute for being mentally prepared.

6. Wake up with a purpose

Strength and flexibility are key to playing your best, and having a routine will help you maintain both. When you first wake up, while you’re still lying in bed, stretch our back and body as fully as you can, and see if you can maneuver yourself to the end of the bed by relying on your core and balance. Now, using your legs only, try to stand up out of bed. Once you’ve done that, sit back down and try it again, only faster. Repeat those movements a few more times. To build strength, you can add weight by pushing your hands against your thighs as you raise up. For those of you who sleep with your clubs, grab your bag and try standing up while holding them.

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