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How are you spending the off season?
How are you spending the off season?
So, we’re in the middle of the golfing "off season", at least as we know it here in the great northwest. And on the assumption you have not decided to sell your clubs on Ebay and give up the game, I’m assuming most of you have once again stored your clubs away in the closet or garage, and will give the game another chance this coming spring.
The off season in golf is kind of like the off season in baseball. No matter how bad your favorite team played during the season, there is always hope that next season will be the one where they win the World Series. You have the entire off season to listen to the rain beat down on the roof and watch the wind swirl the snow through the air. Your memories of the bad shots of the past season will dull, while you dream and anticipate that the first tee shot of the spring will bring a new magic to your game, yet unseen.
Well, I’ve got bad news… it ain’t gonna happen. At least not without a little off season effort on your part. Just like baseball teams, if you want to improve, and achieve those dreams for next season, you need to be willing to do some training in the off season to improve your conditioning and skills for the coming year. If a baseball team is not willing to make a few trades, or their players are not serious enough to invest time in the off season to improve their skills and conditioning, then realistically, they are not likely going to be any better than they were the previous season, let alone, play in the World Series.
Playing golf in the off season can actually be a great experience. The courses are less crowded, so walking on when the weather presents an opportunity is usually not a problem, and green fees are considerably reduced, making it a great value. However, in spite of our relatively mild and dry conditions so far this winter, you really do need to be properly prepared to play in some marginal weather conditions, should the occasion arise.
First and foremost, make sure you have quality raingear. With the new tech, stretch fabrics on the market today, you no longer have to feel like the Michelin Man trying to swing a golf club. But, let me warn you here, resist the temptation to buy the really cheap stuff. It is inexpensive for a reason and you will soon regret it. Personally, I use the RainFlex gear from Sun Mountain Sports. It is lightweight, flexible, and durable. I use it as much for warmth and protection from the wind as I do for the rain.
Next, make sure you layer up. With today's relatively inexpensive, high tech, lightweight, stretchable fabrics, you can put on two or three layers of warmth, without the bulkiness in the chest, and around the arms and shoulders that was common with the fabrics of the past. Personally, I usually don an Under Armour short sleeve T-shirt, followed by a UA long sleeve T-shirt, followed by a lightweight polyester golf shirt. If I need more warmth, I use my raingear. This provides me with 3 - 4 layers of warm, flexible comfort. And my range of motion feels nearly the same as mid-summer.
Now that you've got the clothing figured out, your next step is to invest in new grips on your clubs and a pair of quality rain gloves. It will make the off season golf experience that much better. Again, advances in technology have created specialty rain gloves that make the club slipping out of your hands a thing of the past. Also, don’t forget the little details, new spikes in your shoes and some hand warmers in your bag.
Once you’re prepared for off season play, you will need to come up with a game plan for improvement. You might want to use the off season to work on your physical conditioning and flexibility. Maybe investigate a gym membership (one with a knowledgeable staff can help design a program to fit your needs), or at least commit to doing a bit more walking, cycling or swimming, so you can actually play a full 18 holes without getting tired.
Also, in a bit of shameless, self-promotion, you should look into getting some quality instruction. The off season is actually the perfect time of year to work on improving your swing. Most golfers are usually reluctant to make changes in their swings during the summer months because their time horizon for improvement is too short. Making successful swing changes is rarely a short term event and the off season provides the time needed to make changes without the self-induced pressure of being able to perform well in the short term because of an upcoming outing or competition.
If your really serious about improving your scores, get some short game instruction as well (or instead of). I can almost guarantee that working on your short game will lower your scores faster than any amount of work on your full swing. Be honest about your short game and get some help if you’re have trouble with distance control or making consistent ball contact. I give hundreds of lessons a year and, when asked, nearly every one of them thinks they have a good short game. In reality, about 1 in 100 actually does. If you are not working on swing changes you should be devoting at least 80% of your off season practice time to your putting and chipping (50% if you are working on swing changes).
Well, I hope your inspired you to get out and work on your game this off season. Spring will be right around the corner. By the way, getting back to baseball, what are the Mariners up to this off season?