Minnesota Winters: A Great Time To Improve Your Game

By Chris Foley

The cold and snow on the ground may prevent you from playing golf this time of the year in Minnesota, but it shouldn’t stop you from improving and getting ready for the season. With all of the golf domes and facilities with simulators there is a great opportunity to get better.

Practice with a purpose

I frequently hear the comment, “I hit the ball great on the range, but I can never seem to take it to the golf course.” The reason that it is so much easier to “find your swing” on the practice tee is that after hitting a few balls a player can start to time his swing and get into a rhythm. Being in rhythm, it is much easier to square the club face and hit good golf shots. There are no consequences on the range such as bunkers, water hazards, or out of bounds. This allows us to swing freely and not worry about score or a precise target. Unfortunately, the golf course is a one shot environment, and it is much more difficult to find that timing and stay in rhythm when we have several minutes between each shot. The less efficient the golf swing, the more reliant the player will be on timing and the harder it will be to take it from the practice to the golf course.

A great way to overcome this during the winter while practicing in the golf dome is to become less swing oriented and become more ball flight and target oriented. If you are working on the mechanics of your swing, spend 30% of your time focused on those mechanics. Spend the other 70% of the time trying to hit targets and shape shots with a variety of clubs. Don’t hit the same club more than three times before switching clubs. Hit high shots, low shots, big hooks, and big slices. Visualize the shots you hit on your home club.

A great practice tool to help you visualize the shots you would hit in a typical round can be downloaded for free from Eye Line Practice Smart Digital Training. http://www.eyelinegolf.com/content/view/213/268/ Digital Training is MP3 files that can be placed on your iPod. The files have typical shot scenarios that you would have in playing a round. You play a clip and then try to execute the shot. Play another clip and it gives you a new shot to visualize and hit.

The short game

The biggest opportunity for improvement during the winter is wedge play. Most domes have some type of targets on the ground at varying distances. Hit a shot at one target and then switch to another target. Hit no more than two shots in a row at the same target. By varying the target with each shot your distance control and feel will improve.

A great way to test the progress of your wedge play is to end each practice session by taking 18 balls and hitting each ball at a different target. Keep track of your score awarding a birdie for a shot hitting the target, a par for hitting a shot the correct distance, but finishing left or right of the target, and a bogie for a shot that is hit poorly, short or long. Gauge your progress on how you score each session in relationship to par.

Golf fitness

A golf fitness program is not only good for your golf game, but good for your health as well. There are correlations between a lack of flexibility, strength and balance and inefficiency in the golf swing.

CES Fitness in Minneapolis (www.CESFitness.com) offers a golf specific fitness assessment. The assessment pinpoints issues related to flexibility, strength and balance. Following the assessment, a workout program is designed to improve your body’s weaknesses and help your golf swing.

Don’t let winter slow down your quest to become a better player. With so many great practice facilities and the knowledge of how to work on your game, the opportunity to have your best summer of golf is only some regular trips to the golf dome away.

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