Improving Your Golf Game Over the Winter

by David Lake

The end of the golf season for us folks living north of the Mason-Dixon line is swiftly approaching and it is about time for us to store our golf clubs in moth balls – right? Wrong. This is the best time to begin improving your swing for next year.

It sounds contrary that you can improve your swing during the winter months when you cannot go outside to the driving range or golf course; however, nothing could be further from the truth. If you have enough clearance in your garage or basement to swing a golf club then you have a golden opportunity to greatly improve your swing, including your distance and accuracy, prior to the beginning of next year’s golf season. The fact is that it is far easier to develop a fluid and powerful swing in your garage then it is at a driving range. Let me explain:

During the summer months when you are at the driving range or golf course working on your swing you have one single stumbling block to improvement – the golf ball. I know that sounds strange but it is absolutely true. Staring down at a golf ball produces a strong reaction in the brain of every golfer – it demands performance. As opposed to actually working on your swing (concentrating on your desired swing plane, your release, balance, etc.) your mind is engaged solely in hitting the ball to the exclusion of everything else. Consequently, any swing improvement takes much longer with much of the improvement coming by pure chance. For instance, if you are working on taking the club behind you instead of out to the side during your take-away (an extreme swing improvement technique) and you hit a few bad shots due to the fact that this movement is foreign to you, you will quickly revert back to your previous inefficient swing movement and dismiss any thoughts about changing it. The reason is simply because the presence of the golf ball demands immediate performance.

A much more efficient and powerful method of improving your swing is to eliminate this “immediate performance” criteria altogether which allows you to modify your swing without any initial negative feedback. Getting rid of the golf ball lets you concentrate on individual elements of your swing and really feel the movement which allows you to fully ingrain the elements of an improved swing in a fraction of the time.

In my garage I have a 4’x4′ piece of short pile carpet with a 4’x4′ piece of ½” foam rubber underneath. On the carpet I painted a small circle (the size of a golf ball) in glossy white where I would normally position my golf ball. Whenever I want to tune up my swing or correct any swing faults that may be present I simply pretend to be hitting shots off of the carpet ticking the white spot with the sole of my club-head through impact. What is very noticeable when you do this is that you can fully concentrate on your swing mechanics instead of concentrating on and having the pressure of producing a good shot. It is also interesting to note that you can actually feel the difference between a good swing and a not-so-good swing allowing you to immediately identify and correct any swing faults that may be present. At the end of your practice session you simply roll up the carpet along with the foam pad and stick it in the corner. I personally practice my swing in this manner four or five times a week year round and, believe me, it becomes scary how deeply you can ingrain a good swing.

I might also mention that playing 1 Irons gives you a huge advantage over your friends playing conventional golf clubs in that you only have to groove and ingrain one swing. ‌