While sun-splashed hot spots like Florida and Southern California certainly expand your ability to play golf almost year-round, living in colder climates does not mean you and your golf equipment need to hibernate until The Masters tournament in April.
Numerous Northerners have honed their games to the professional levels. Tour players Tom Lehman and Tim “Lumpy” Herron are Minnesota natives – better known for producing ice hockey players. Steve Stricker is a Wisconsonite. Brrr! Arguably the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, hails from Ohio, which is not renowned for its mild winters.
These hearty players were not hampered by chilled feet and cold hands. It is granted that a foot of snow blanketing your home course layout is a frigid setback to your regular game, but there remain ways to maintain and improve your game while the earth coolly tilts away from the sun.
- Head South Young Man (and Woman) – There is no shame in shunning your snow blower and trekking closer to the equator. Grab your buddies and head to destinations like Myrtle Beach (SC) or Palm Springs (CA). Golf travel deals fitting every budget can be found to calm your winter golf Jones.
- Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals – While the snow blows horizontally, there is no reason not to work on the basic, but critical, elements of your game in the warmth of your home. A few minutes focused on grip, posture and ball position will jump start your game after the big thaw.
- Short Game is the name of the game – Putting and chipping, the score-lowering skills, can also be honed in the protection of your toasty abode. Rolling putts on practice putting mats or even into a water glass will lower those maddening three-putts in the spring. Chipping into a basket or other targets (plastic balls highly recommended) will also increase your finesse skills.
- Weight training and flexibility – Winning the RE/MAX Long Drive Championship might be a pipe dream, but moderately pumping iron and stretching your critical body parts will add distance off the tee and keep you off the summer-time disabled list.
- See It, Feel It, Trust It – Golf may be the biggest head game of all sports and mental skills are often neglected. Get under a warm blanket with Kahlua and coffee in reach and read Harvey Penick or Dr. Bob Rotella, or watch mystic golf guru Robert Duvall in “Seven Days in Utopia.” Then take to the tee next season with more confidence and fewer mental demons.
Shoveling snow and downing copious amounts of Kahlua don’t have to be your only primary wintertime pursuits. Put some focus working on your game inside and off the frigid chill outside. The daffodils, forsythia and warmer days of golf will soon begin blooming again as the earth continues to tilt back in our favor.