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Make no mistake about it, it’s not easy to get good at golf. In fact, it’s generally pretty hard to get good at golf.
But it seems the getting good is all anyone is particularly concerned with. How to lose nine strokes here, gain a straighter drive there. Sure, that’s great information, but there’s never much conversation about preserving your game. How to stay good.
In fact, there’s so little conversation about it, I found myself wondering what might happen to my game during the forthcoming winter months. After a summer filled with lessons and practice, I recently dropped my scores into the 80s for the first time. That’s not easy! When I walk onto the first tee in March 2021, I want to be the golfer who putted out on the 18th green in October 2020 and not back to my old 90s-shooting ways.
Here’s how I’m planning to do it, and how you can do it too.
8 ways I’m staying sharp this winter
1. I’m going to continue receiving lessons: It’s not exactly rocket science — the more you practice, the better you’re going to get. But given the current environment, I’m going to opt for a slightly different course of action to my offseason training. Rather than work with an in-person swing coach, I’m going to take the virtual lesson track through the Skillest app. While I’ll still have to find time to swing a club, I’m hopeful that a slightly more relaxed (and affordable) approach to my swing training will give me more opportunities to work on my game.
2. Good weather days are still golf days: In the past, I’d throw the bag in the garage for the winter and take it back out in the spring. Not this winter. Any time the temperature climbs into the 50s, I’ll find an excuse to climb out onto the course with it. I’ve always preferred playing on empty tracks, anyway.
3. Quality time at the simulator: Sure, in the summer months, Topgolf is a great way to spend time with your buddies. But what about in the winter? Pool some cash together with your boys and rent out a swing simulator for a few hours. Figure out if there’s a policy about bringing alcohol with you, and bang, you’ve got a night out planned. Plus, it’ll give you an excuse to get a few hours worth of swings in. Did somebody say win-win?
4. Bringing my putter into the (home) office: We’re fortunate at GOLF.com to be working from home for the time being. While I miss my coworkers dearly, I’m glad I won’t have to bring my putter all the way into Manhattan to work on my stroke throughout the workday. It’s time to tighten up that putting stroke, and with the holidays around the corner, I know just how to do it…
5. Investing in swing aids: Maybe it’s time to bolster your swing speed, or your putting stroke, or your short game. Or all of the above! There are SO many good swing aids on the market, and many of the best are simpler than you’d think. If you’re not sure where to start, alignment sticks are a must for any golfer, and played a major role in fixing my setup.
6. Learn the nuances of my new clubs: Between the range and the simulator, I’ll figure to have plenty of time swinging my new clubs. And that’s good news, because a full-bag fitting at True Spec Golf over the summer left me with a brand-new set of sticks far different from the off-the-rack gamers I’d played for my entire life. Even if it’s just by relearning my setup from my front lawn (or living room), I’m hoping the time away from the course will give me an adequate adjustment period before it’s time to start recording scores.
7. Planning my next golf trip: Just because it’s the offseason doesn’t mean you can’t dream about golf! Why not take the time to plan a golf buddies trip? Cabot, Bandon, Pinehurst, what about Montana? There are so many good golf trips out there, now it’s just time to pick the one that works best for me and my buddies.
8. Fine-tuning my fitness: One of my favorite traditions in professional sports comes at the beginning of each new season. Somehow, everybody lost 10 pounds of fat and gained 15 of muscle, everyone is in the “best shape of their life.” Well, for this golf season, I actually want to get in the best shape of my life. But that doesn’t mean channeling my inner-Bryson and adding weight (I mean, theoretically it could, but that seems like a lot of work). No, I want to focus on improving my flexibility and mobility. On stretching frequently, and keeping my core strong. On doing all those little injury-prevention drills. Why? Because once the 2021 season begins, there’s nothing slowing down my game.