It’s cold, it’s windy, it’s wet. It’s all three most of the time. But you still have the golf bug. I have the golf bug. We can’t play, so other than binge-watch The Golf Channel, what options do we have?
I’m a University of Tennessee alumnus, but I’m not talking about that kind of Volunteer! (Although I suggest looking out for both the men’s and women’s teams in the NCAA’s this year).
Every community has high school golf teams. Most communities have college golf teams. If you are a proficient golfer, and/or if you have a specific area you are particularly proficient, contact the local coach and offer to volunteer with one of the teams. If you are sincere, and willing to put in the hours that coaching takes, there is probably a job out there for you. During the dog days of winter, preparing golf lesson plans, doing some research, and brainstorming with the coach are all going to keep you involved with the game even while you watch it snow outside.
II. Research Your Archives
Maybe I’m the only one who does this, but I highly doubt it. I have a file of golf tips that goes back years. From the driver to the putter, I have pulled an article here and there from Golf Digest, Golf, plus online magazine articles I’ve saved to the computer.
There is a reason I saved those articles in the first place. Something about the tip resonated with what I need to know, or learn. I probably could use the reminder, or reinforcement. My guess is, you also have saved golf tips over the years. And you saved them for a reason.
The point is, having them in a file in a drawer isn’t doing you any good. So pull them out and re-read them. Mark them up. Find the very best and stick them in your golf bag so that when it does warm up, you have the tips at arm’s length and can work on them on the range.
III. Play Indoor Golf
I think the most important thing a golfer can do, especially during this time of year, is swing a golf club. When the weather just doesn’t allow it to happen on a course, it’s time to get creative. And that means indoor golf.
There is indoor golf, and then “almost indoor-golf.”
If you Google simulators, or indoor golf, in your geographic area, you will likely find someplace relatively close that will give you a chance to swing a club indoors. Almost all the big box retailers, such as Golf Galaxy, have indoor hitting bays. You’ll be expected to try out their clubs with the intention of buying, but it still gives you a chance to swing and get some of the kinks out. And of course if you find a simulator, you can not only swing and work on your game, but have the opportunity to play a Pebble Beach or Whistling Straits that you otherwise might never be able to play.
Almost Indoor Golf
Top Golf, to my knowledge has heated hitting bays in almost every one of their facilities. So even though a Top Golf bay isn’t “indoor” per se, it will allow you to be warm enough to still hit shots without wearing seven layers of clothing.
Many larger driving ranges also have heated hitting bays. Some envelop the bay area with tarp or plastic, helping to retain heat.
The lesson is to not just assume that because it’s cold outside, there are no options for getting re-acquainted with your sticks!
IV. Indoor Putting Practice
I think we’ve all grabbed a putter and putted on the carpet toward a drinking glass (preferably an empty one!). But that’s not really practice.
Want to get better and actually carve strokes from your game? As you know, putting accounts for about half the strokes in any round. In my case, it’s more than half–sometimes waaaay more than half.
I’ve always liked to compare putting and basketball. I played a lot of basketball in high school and college, and a layup in basketball is similar to a 3-foot putt. It’s short, it’s easy, you know you should make it and you know that everyone else knows you should make it. So when you miss the lay-up or the three-footer, it’s embarrassing and a blow to the ego.
The way to not miss lay-ups is to shoot enough of them that they are automatic. Short putts are the same way. Develop a routine and hit so many that you just know you are going to make it. Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t practice three-footers at home! Get an area rug, or a piece of artificial turf, or something that approximates a green. Use whatever you want for a hole, but I’ve found that a round drink coaster you can get from any pub or restaurant will work. Devote 15 minutes a day to putting and see if that doesn’t translate to the course once it warms up.
V. Go Shopping
Do you have the latest and greatest cold-weather gear? If you’re still wearing fleece and cotton tees under your old Army field jacket while you play, you are doing your game a disservice.
Do some research and see just what is out there regarding cold weather golf gear. Just some examples include:
- Cold weather and wet-weather golf gloves you wear on both hands. It’s practically impossible to play good golf when your hands are freezing. Having those little disposable hand-warmers in your pockets aren’t a bad idea, either.
- Light-weight but wind-busting Gore-Tex or similar outerwear that is lightweight but still warm and flexible.
- A quality rainsuit (waterproofs, to quote Nick Faldo). They not only help keep you dry when it’s wet, but help keep you warm as well.
- Have a dependable pair of golf shoes that are waterproof. Applying waterproof wax to them (just use what is used on ski boots) can’t hurt.
And now you have five different alternatives to consider when the weather outside is frightful, but the game of your dreams is still delightful. Give a few of these a shot and see if your game doesn’t benefit.
Stay warm out there, and thanks for reading Shooting Your Age!