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Winter Survival Guide: How to Keep Your Game from Hibernating this Offseason

by Pete Pappas

If you live in a cold climate, the freezing temperatures and snow drifts of winter can make it challenging to get outside and practice your golf swing. And as every golfer knows, if you don’t use it – you lose it. However, the long offseason doesn’t have to put your game on ice. We have some drills, techniques, and tips to make sure you don’t lose your swing. Take advantage of this time, and you might even find your game in the best shape of its life when spring returns.

Practice Your Grip

Arnold Palmer Grip
Arnold Palmer’s Grip

Now, this may seem like an obvious suggestion, but often the simplest ideas are the best. Your grip is the most fundamental aspect of your game, and muscle memory can disappear in as little as three weeks. Just grab a club when you’re watching television, and hold it the way you normally do when you play, comfortably without tension in your hands or arms for a few minutes. Sure you’re not making a full swing or actually watching your ball travel in any particular direction. However, doing this just a few times a week can save you from the painful experience of having to change or tweak your grip when the weather thaws.

Putt Everywhere

golf on carpet

Rattling a few putts into your coffee cup might not make you a better putter come spring, but it could make you think you’re better, and sometimes that’s all it takes to sink a few more putts during a round. A putting matt is your best bet to recreate the pace and feel of a real putting surface. If you don’t have one, however, try putting on the tightest weave carpet in your house, or even rug. At the very least, hitting putts of various lengths wherever you can for three months should help you find the sweet spot more consistently and teach you better distance control.

Swing Without Hitting a Ball

On those days when you’re willing to brave the elements in your backyard, or if you’re blessed with a home that has cathedral ceilings, the best way to groove your swing is to swing a club without the pressure of hitting the ball. On the most basic level, this quasi-golf workout will improve your strength and flexibility. More fundamentally, however, making these swings will give you an awareness of where the club is during your swing, and help you build a repeatable swing motion.

If you need a drill that you can do indoors, try this lower body stabilization drill which will help take that sway out of your backswing! When spring arrives your game won’t be rusty, it will be finely-tuned and ready for the new season.

Try the Whoosh Drill

One of the best drills to help you feel (and hear) where your club is during the swing is called the Whoosh Drill. It also helps you create more swing speed, which all of us can use. To do this drill, turn your club upside-down, and then grip it just below the club head. Go ahead and make your normal swing, and you’ll hear a “whoosh” sound. You want to hear the whoosh as you come into, and through impact. You don’t want to hear it earlier because that means you’re releasing stored power too soon and sacrificing distance. Just be sure when you do this drill you’re as far away as possible from that flower vase Aunt Bernie gave you for Christmas.

Indoor Driving Range or Simulator

Nothing will help your game quite like actually hitting golf balls, so try visiting an indoor driving range or simulator. Hitting shots in a heated, domed facility has the advantage over the simulator of watching real ball flights, and some courses even have ranges with heated stations. Be careful of hitting outdoors however as the cold could crack the thin face of your driver, I know from personal experience. Practicing in a simulator can help you hyper-tune your swing by monitoring spin rates, trajectories, launch conditions, ball speeds, and a slew of other variables. These simulator monitors also let you choose famous courses around the world to play, which you might otherwise not ever get a chance to see.

Take a Golf Vacation

group golf outing

If the thought of wielding a snow shovel all winter instead of a 7-iron fills you with dread, try soothing your golf-deprived psyche by escaping to a warm winter golf destination. There are plenty of amazing golf destinations south of the Mason-Dixon line and all over the west coast that will make you forget about the snow blanketed fairways of home. We even have a few suggestions for you here. Tee times are easier to get if you book in a group, so consider making it a buddy trip, and don’t spend your winter months just gazing longingly at your clubs.

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