When you grow up as a golfer in one of the coldest countries on Earth, you are bound to have to learn a few things about how to get the most out of the winter months to perform well in the golf season. As a young player I wanted to make sure I could improve as much as possible all year round, no matter if it was minus 15 Celsius outside.
What I’m going to share here are the top take-aways I have from spending countless winters working on my game to truly shape up my performance for the summer:
Tip 1: Make sure to have some 1on1 coaching lessons on your swing, to make it crystal clear what technical swing changes or adjustments you are going to focus on this winter, to really drill in the right movements and make them an automatic part of your swing before the spring sets in.
Although this is in the end up to you and your coach, people will generally find that if they focus on getting solid fundamentals, the swing will automatically improve.
Tip 2: Takeaway number two: Don’t go around hitting white balls outside in the (white) snow. Use yellow/orange ones. They are a heck of a lot easier to find!
Tip 3: If you are a true golfer (and you have a garden/available space), you will come to the point where you realize that for your winter game and practice on perfecting your swing for the season, you will need to set up a golf net in your back yard or in your garage, whatever space allows for.
Personally, I’d recommend to buy a small turf mat to hit from, make sure you shovel snow away in front of the net, and give yourself a stance that is stable to hit from. Icy conditions (depending on your type of winter) can be a bitch!
Tip 4: Make sure to take a few films of your swing from “down-the line” view, as well as head on, and also a front photo of the grip.
This if done a couple of times per month can show you where you are, help track your progress if you got an eye for this, or simply give the films to your coach that you go to during the winter.
Extra trip: If you want a cheap way of taking lessons, consider sending in a few of the videos you make to an online golf coach, who can analyze your swing and give you a few key moves or adjustment to keep focusing on. That can mean the difference between 3% fairway hits in the season and 70%+
Tip 5: A coach, weather it is for putting, chipping, swing or bunker, will almost always 2x-10x your progress compared to just hitting balls on your own. A decent coach can usually tell what 1 or 2 things, even fairly simple ones, that you should focus that can make a lot of difference in your game, ultimately resulting in you shooting generally a lower score the next season, when you are out with your buddies. Let’s be honest, it’s the improvement that makes this game worth it, even when we have tough days, so do yourself the favor and invest a little bit into a coach for guidance, especially in the winter months, even if just a few lessons. It usually makes a big difference.
Tip 6: Get a good putting mat, and practice the type of putting that is the easiest to practice in the winter, and which ultimately is the most important part as it take the most strokes off your score: short putting, 1-3 meter putts. Personally I would recommend using a training aid called Boomerang.
This putting mat will both increase your aim, direction of putting, and touch for shorter putts. In addition it speeds up your whole training with about 2x – 3x times the speed/efficiency as you get the ball quickly in return for every putt, especially if you use 2 balls for the training.
Tip 7: I would also recommend to read a bit about golf in the offseason, to keep the inspiration up, or to learn more. Books that are worth noticing on the swing and golf fundamentals, which are what makes a good golfer a good golfer, are among others: Five Lessons (Ben Hogan), Power Golf (Ben Hogan) or Ernie Else book: How to build a classical golf swing.
You may also find it both interesting and useful to read about golf statistics, if you are a numbers guy, and course management – as it can truly save you quite a few strokes to simple use a better course strategy suited to your game. In the end of the day, golf is not about one or two good shots during a round, it’s about the steadiness and average of your total 18 hole performance, sometimes even more if you are playing a competition.
So learn about stats and course management, it will give you a lower handicap.
Tip 8: This one is important: If you live in place where the climate does not allow for golf, or decent golf in the winter, make sure to do what you can to get yourself at least a few days of golf vacation to a warmer place during the winter season. It will give you something to look forward to and motivate you in your training, to get through to the spring.
Tip 9: If you do play on a simulator, you can actually get a lot of feedback from it, if it’s a good one, as to how you are swinging the club, how you are approaching and hitting the ball through impact, and what your tendencies are when it comes to misses. This can all when analyzed even fairly quickly help you direct your practice better to make sure you are working on the right things.
Spring Tip: Spend 10-15 min per day improving flexibility when the golf season gets closer again. If you want to do physical training, core rib muscles, hip and leg muscles are the most important.
Remember that even though the winter year can be tough on us golfers, the days are already getting brighter after Christmas and New Years, and that is a sign that there is light in the end of the tunnel, and that spring is only getting closer every day. When it all comes down to it, every day spent building your skillsets in golf, no matter summer or winter, is a day well spent as it will always help you improve your game one way or another. Even when it does not feel like it.