The winter months are the worst time to be a golfer. When the temperature gets low, golf season slowly disappears and the course becomes a wasteland. If you are a fanatic of the sport then that can make for a frustrating few months.
Of course, it’s not much of an issue if you live in a place that’s warm all year, but that’s pretty rare, nor is it a problem if you travel South for the winter, but very few of us can afford to do that. So options for keeping our game strong are pretty limited for the majority of us.
As Gary Player said though:
“The more I work and practice, the luckier I seem to get.”
Getting better will only happen with consistent practice, and if you want to stay on top of your ability and scratch that perpetual itch when it’s too cold to get to the course, you have to settle for practicing at home. Many golfers will probably scoff at that suggestion.
And that’s understandable because it is very much an outdoor sport. You obviously can’t have an actual golf course in your living room, but there are numerous ways in which you can practice various techniques and strengthen your playing while in your house.
Let’s take a look at five ways that you can practice golf at home:
The key to a perfect game all starts with a good grip. If you don’t master that then everything from your swinging to your putting will suffer greatly. Many players will get complacent with this because they think it’s one of the easiest aspects of the game, and this is a big mistake.
When you’re away from the course, use that as an opportunity to master this fundamental. Learn all about the different kinds of grips and how to position your hands for each of them. Learn about grip strength and pressure and figure out what kind of grip best suits you.
The only way to figure this out is to put it into practice, and that’s as simple as just giving yourself a little bit of space in a room where you can do some short-range putting. Try every grip imaginable and see which ones feel the most comfortable and offer you the most amount of movement and power.
Your swing is a little bit more difficult to practice at home because you won’t be able to see the potential results of it, but you can still work on the technique itself by practicing some useful drills.
There are several components to a good swing, one of which is hand-eye coordination. A good drill for this is to stick some tape to the ground and try to skim the top of it with your club while swinging. You’ll know you’ve done this right if you hear a tiny click at the bottom of your swing.
Practicing this can help you to hone your aim onto such a small target. Speed is another component and you can practice that with a drill where you get into position and start your swing at a high speed but stop halfway through.
The goal is to try and keep increasing your speed while also being able to maintain your balance with the sudden stop. Going off-balance while swinging can mess up your aim in a big way so this is extremely important to train.
There are tons more for you to try to enhance your swing and I would suggest investing in a good full-length mirror so you can watch yourself practicing these and memorize any positions that feel comfortable.
Practicing putting is a much more straightforward process for the home but if you want to truly maximize if then you should go for a bit more of a complex drill than just laying out a putting mat and going through the motions.
This drill is an effective one and two of the most seasoned golf teachers in Stan Utley and Kevin Weeks each have a variation of it. You will need to use some alignment sticks to make rails on either side of the area where you’ll be putting. These can just be rulers or yardsticks, nothing fancy is necessary.
Then you can measure out the distance foot-by-foot between these rails and mark them. This gives you a practice area where you can get very specific with the skills you’re working on. You can work on the speed, pace and distance of your putting and become accurate to within a matter of inches.
- Impact Practice
For people who predominantly play golf for fun and not in any kind of professional capacity, impact might not be a word that you’re familiar with. What we’re referring to is where the face of the club connects with the ball.
This is far more important than people realize, even with advanced technology allowing for clubs to be more forgiving for off-center shots, you are still going to be at a huge advantage if you can master connecting at the club’s center of gravity.
It’s hard to figure this one out, but a solution is to set up a net in your home so you can practice hitting balls into it and put something such as ink to mark the back of the ball so that it leaves an imprint on the club where it hits.
Through this, you can see where you are typically hitting the ball and alter your strike in order to get it closer to the center of the club.
Some traditionalists might take issue with this suggestion, but using golf simulators and interactive video games can be an excellent way to practice at home. Even Rory McIlroy agrees about the accuracy of simulated golf:
“I really enjoy playing Tiger Woods on the Wii, it’s definitely a good way for kids to learn the motion of a golf swing if they want to get into the sport.”
And while the Wii may be best-suited for young beginners, there are so many others which will give you several more options for more thorough practice and which will also give you feedback on your performance.
There’s no doubt that this is a fun and effective way to practice that is only improving as technology improves.
So you really do have a lot of options for keeping on top of your golf practice when you’re stuck in the house. All it takes is a bit of creativity, use of modern technology and a commitment to daily effort.