Jayne Storey: Your winter golf checkJanuary, 2013
Now is the time to make advances
Rather than seeing winter as a time to forego playing let alone improving, here’s a checklist of areas you can work on to enhance your game and raise your performance both mentally and physically over the coming months.
Find a fitness professional who specialises in golf. He or she can do an assessment of your current fitness level and prescribe a workout based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.
The majority of golfers have a physical issue or issues that might prevent them from playing better and many gyms now have instructors who are specialists in golf-specific fitness.
Areas to work on are core strength, lower-body stability (strengthening quads/glutes/ hamstrings) and spinal flexibility so when the new season arrives you can create maximum torque at the top of your backswing for longer drives.
Technically improving your swing takes time and repetition and is not the sort of thing to aim for mid season, otherwise you’ll spend the time when you should be playing and enjoying your golf, worrying about your performance instead.
Understanding the difference in attitude and attention needed between improving your golf and playing golf is crucial. The off-season is the best time to work on swing mechanics, as you have time to make the change a habit with repetition on the practice range before the new golf season gets here.
Find a qualified instructor in your area and arrange to take a series of lessons.
The experience of the perfect golf shot is the result of more than getting your swing technically correct. In fact, focusing on technique while swinging is a sure-fire way to play below your best as mental interference is the single biggest contributor to golfers’ under performing.
The inner game offers a variety of approaches to regulate your breathing, keep your mind quiet and your emotions neutral, especially when under pressure around the course. Yoga, Tai Chi and pilots all offer golf-specific practices and techniques designed to help you get ‘in the zone’ and play your best.
Make practice strokes feeling the changes you’re working on and visualise hitting the perfect shot. Spend some time every day working on your putting. This can be done easily at home on a putting green or even on the carpet. It’s a great time to check your fundamentals, such as grip and set-up, as well as make small changes to improve your stroke. Make practice strokes feeling the changes you’re working on and visualise hitting the perfect shot.
The brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality, and in fact when you visualise something in your mind, the neurons in your brain as well as the fibres on your muscles, respond as if you were actually doing the thing you are thinking about. It makes sense to practise your visualisation skills either by playing your favourite course in your mind and/or seeing yourself walk calmly and confidently to the first tee and hitting a beautiful opening shot. Go through a course you are familiar with, picture yourself hitting tee shots, approach shots and putts. Make every shot perfect.
There are many wonderful books about golf and not just ones that focus on technique but that offer an insight into the mystical and extraordinary, such as Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy, Golf and the Spirit by M. Scott Peck and Extraordinary Golf by Fred Shoemaker.
These are all books to inspire you and keep you motivated through the winter months, and are invaluable resources about all that is marvellous in golf.