Getting ready for the 2017 Season
By Jon Woodroffe
Hopefully your golf has improved during the 2016 season. As we come to the time of year when we just tick along until the warmer weather and longer evenings return, here are a couple of tips for winter practice, to help you hit the ground running in 2017.
As an instructor, when I start working with a student, I am very aware of the time of year and the constraints that it can put on what adjustments I make. For example, if a fairly major rebuild would be ideal, but the student is about to go away on their annual golf weekend to Portugal, I would only tweak a couple of minor details and send the player off to enjoy their trip. So this is the time of year that every golfer should think about a game plan to prepare for next year, ideally executed through a course of lessons.
Any member of of our World of Golf teaching team will be able to plan your winter practice after the first lesson. I would also suggest not necessarily booking the lessons weekly. See whether you need more time to work on things on the range on your own, rather than just religiously coming to the weekly lesson when you may not been able to make the progress required from the previous lesson. This is what causes people to lose faith with the changes and revert back to old bad habits. Also, the first session will invariably have the biggest impact, as normally there is something in the basics that has gone off the boil and the professional will be able to repair that quickly. What I also find is that people expect a consistent arc of improvement each lesson. This simply is not going to happen and in fact on some sessions you will struggle to improve at all. Keep the faith and the practice that you do yourself at the range will win through in the end.
The main thing to check on this side of things are the little details, such as how worn the grips on your clubs are. If your clubs are forged heads, then get the loft and lies checked. With play through the year, the softer metal could have moved. Both of these things can be done by your local American Golf store professionals.
Usually the main problem is flexibility, especially through the winter, so try to maintain a regime of stretching exercises to keep you as supple as possible. Plus when you get to the golf range to practice in the colder weather, make sure you take a little longer in your warm up exercises before you start pounding golf balls.
The hardest distance to conquer in golf is the six and seven eights gap between our ears. One excellent way to improve your mind play is to improve your visualisation ability. As you cannot get out onto the golf course so often, try spending some time working on seeing yourself hitting your best shot. If you play the same course regularly, see yourself playing the way you would want to, learn what a good shot should look like and practice watching yourself performing it. I know you still have to swing the club – your mind is not capable of achieving that on it’s own – but a little mental direction as to what you are trying to attain, will go a long way to helping you. Try it and see what is does for you.
So, although the weather is not as enticing at this time of year, you can really help your golf game for the new year, by preparing and practicing the stuff that is difficult or time consuming to do in the heat of the season. This could mean, by the time The Masters comes round in April, you are already hitting your stride.