Grow My Game
Keep swinging to avoid winter rust in your game
By Mike Bailey
No golf in the winter usually translates into quite a bit of rust in the spring if you haven’t played or practiced. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you can use the winter months to your advantage to work on specific things in your swing and your fitness and flexibility without the pressure of score.
Highly decorated PGA coach Randy Smith says he doesn't even like to call winter the offseason for golfers, but rather the “preparation season.”
This is the time says Smith, who coached Justin Leonard through much of his career, that you can develop more swing speed and work on your form with some very simple daily drills.
Smith, PGA Golf Professional Emeritus at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas and 1996 PGA Professional of the Year, says nearly everyone can find a place to make swings around their homes. It sounds simple, and it is, but most golfers don't do it, and the benefits might surprise you, he says.
Smith recommends 15-20 swings pretty much every day, maybe even twice a day, during the preparation season. Doing it with a heavy and light club can yield even better results.
The heaviest club in you bag is your wedge. Smith, who currently coaches PGA Tour players Ryan Palmer and Scottie Scheffler, recommends you swing your wedge (or a designated heavy club) several inches off the ground, then alternate it with something as light as an alignment rod to feel speed.
Add if you wanted to take it a step further, there are some excellent training systems on the market, including the SpeedGolf System, which has three different weighted clubs and specific drills to follow. Golfers who have worked with this system have reported significant increases in clubhead speed as well as better form without hitting balls in as little as a few weeks.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with hitting balls if you have the opportunity. TopGolf or Drive Shack is a good option. Or you could find a simulator.
Brian Crowell, PGA director of golf at Osiris Country Club in Montgomery, N.Y., says simulator golf is great way to stay sharp during the winter. They’re showing up more and more in private clubs as well as other venues. They're also a lot of fun.
But if you want to work on your short game, you don't need a sim or anything fancy really. Most people can find a spot in their homes homes to putt or chip. In fact, your carpet, which can be pretty fast on the Stimpmeter, is a great place to work on lag putting. (Crowell recommends laying down tape to define targets.)
Winter also is a great time to work on your fitness and flexibility. Starting a yoga program, like Katherine Roberts’ “Yoga for Golf” would surely pay dividends when you get back out on the course.
And finally, Alison Curdt, PGA Master Professional and LPGA Master Professional based out of Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, Calif., says winter is one of the best times to work on form.
“Doing the motion that you wish to improve in very slow motion will allow the muscles and the brain to figure out the best pattern possible,” Curdt says. “Then you can add speed later. So set a goal of 30 slow swings in the morning, 30 at lunch, 30 at night and start adding speed as the weather gets a little bit warmer. You’ll be surprised how quickly the form improves when you do slow motion swings with instant feedback from a mirror or video.”