For those of us living in climates that aren't exactly golf-friendly year round, we're deep into winter. Two months of freezing temperatures and increasing accumulations of powder have long since ended the golf season. And the worse news; if that rodent in Pennsylvania is to be trusted, we're, at best, only halfway through. It sucks, but the way I see, we've had a nice little break, and it's time to get moving, get motivated, and get ready for the upcoming season.
The offseason is what you make of it. Even if you can't play golf, there’s plenty you can do to get your gear and your game in shape for spring. Hitting balls indoors is an easy way to stay loose during the offseason, and lessons probably wouldn’t hurt any of us either, but we wanted to offer some suggestions for other ways to keep your equipment and your game in shape over these long and miserable winter months.
Fitness & Flexibility Training
For those of us who make our living chained to a desk, maintaining flexibility can be difficult. To improve your speed, posture, range of motion, and prevent injuries, consider starting a fitness and flexibility-training program. TPI laid the groundwork, but there are now several companies that specialize in golf-specific training. Between like Premier Fitness Systems, Golf Stretch, The Golf Yogi, Tathata Golf, and near countless others, you should have no trouble finding something to help you reach your fitness goals. On-site and online training programs that you can do from the comfort of your home are readily available. The options are limitless, but it’s important to find a program that’s right for you.
Regrip Your Golf Clubs
Avid golfers should regrip their clubs once a year. Over time, sweat, dirt, and the elements can cause your grips to lose their tackiness. Re-gripping, when your grips get slick, is essential for playing your best golf.
You might find it interesting that there’s a growing body of evidence shredding the myth of a correlation between hand size and the right grip size. Let this offseason be your opportunity to experiment with not only different textures but different sizes as well. If an oversized, minimal taper grip just feels right, don’t let some antiquated grip gauge convince you not to use it.
Experiment With New Equipment
Between the first snowfall and your first tee time of the spring, it’s a safe assumption that golf equipment manufacturers have released something that’s captured your attention. The offseason provides the perfect opportunity to try something new – the right way. With no opportunity to put something new in play, you’ll be less tempted to spend money on something that may not improve your game.
Take the time to test against the gear that’s already in your bag. If the new stuff isn’t measurably better, don’t buy it. It’s really that simple. Remember, experimenting is about more than just new clubs. The offseason is the ideal time to find out if it’s finally time to ditch the 3-iron for a hybrid, drop the 3-hybrid for a 4-wood, or ditch your 60-degree wedge for a 58-degree. Don’t limit yourself. The key is to experiment throughout the bag, and maybe find something that works better than what you’re using right now.
Plan A Buddies Trip
If you just can’t survive the offseason without teeing it up, take a buddy trip. Pick a destination, gather up your foursome, and play 3-5 rounds somewhere warm. Phoenix/Scottsdale, Orlando, and Las Vegas offer an abundance of affordable golf. Bandon Dunes is open for golf year-round, and Streamsong Resort just opened the Gil Hanse designed Black Course (its 3rd course on the property).
Keep in mind the flexibility of the airports that you’re flying in and out of. Some of these hotbeds for golf have a greater number of golf courses and resorts close to each other. If you’re not going the resort route, consider destinations where courses are packed in close proximity to one another. Less travel time can mean more golf.
Get Loft & Lie Angles Checked & Adjusted
Serious golfers should have the loft and lie angles on their irons checked annually. Lie angles can have a significant impact on directional control, while loft influences both trajectory and distance. If your lie angles are off, your shots could be traveling upwards of 8-10 yards off their intended target line. If your lofts aren’t where they should be, some clubs will fly longer than they should, while others may fly shorter, and your gapping will be a mess. Practicing and playing can cause lofts and lie angles to move over time, and forged irons are typically more susceptible to unwanted bending.
Even if you just bought new irons, you should have them checked. It’s not uncommon for new irons to arrive with lie and loft angles that aren’t exactly on-spec. Just about any local club repair technician or local golf pro should be able to help you out. Cost varies, but for less than $10/club, it’s money well spent.
Establish Proper Gaps Throughout Your Bag
Are your clubs providing consistent yardage gaps from one to the next? The reality is that for average golfers, gaps can be all over the map. To ensure that you always have the right club for the shot, it’s imperative that you take the time to understand (and adjust) your actual gaps and carry distances. Establishing proper gaps can be as simple as a loft adjustment, but the process can also provide insight into whether or not equipment changes should be made.
For many amateurs, average carry distances for the 4 and 5 irons are almost identical. Regardless of the spot in your bag, it makes little sense to have two clubs that travel nearly the same distance. Taking the time to understand and adjust your gaps will not only help you establish consistent distances from one club to the next, but the process will help you understand how far you really hit each club in your bag, which should lead to better club selection on the golf course.
Get A Proper Club Fitting
This may sound like a strange suggestion heading into the offseason, but if you think about it, the end of the season is likely when your game is its sharpest. You’ve been playing regularly for the last several months. Your swing is grooved.
Use the start of the offseason as an opportunity to get your equipment dialed-in. Test different club and shaft combinations to fine tune your misses and increase your distance. Approach the process with an open mind and don’t let your expectations or preconceived notions get in the way of finding the right fit. Of course, if you’ve been sitting around doing nothing for the last two months, maybe now isn’t the time.
Analyze Your Strengths & Weaknesses From The Last Season
More and more golfers are turning to data to provide insights to how we can improve our games and shoot lower scores. It’s the reason why so many of us track our fairways hit, greens in regulation, or putts per round. Some of you may have also taken advantage of an advanced analytics platform like Arccos.
The offseason presents the perfect opportunity to take a 2nd look at your data and determine what you need to work on to prepare for the new season. Addressing your weaknesses, whether that means practicing your lag putting and pace control on the greens to avoid 3-putts, or straightening out your driver to eliminate penalty strokes, will reap benefits when your 2018 season begins. You’ve collected the data; now it’s time to use it to understand where you need to put in the work this winter.
Get to It
Winter doesn’t have to mean the end of the golf season. Use it as an opportunity to focus on other aspects of your game, make adjustments, and get ready for spring. Use this time wisely, as you’ll be back on the first tee before you know it. Hopefully, you’ll be an even better player than you were before you shut it down for winter.
What do you do to keep your game fresh during the offseason? Let us know in the comments section below.