By Mark Kitts - Head Golf Professional, Shadow Ridge Golf Club
As a past PGA Tour Canada player, I’ve had to keep my game sharp in between seasons. This can be made a little more difficult living in Canada when your “home club” shuts down for the winter. That being said, here are some tips I’ve found helpful to keep my game in shape during the off season; I hope this helps you, too.
#1 – If it’s doable for you, take a trip down south to a warm climate such as Phoenix, Palm Springs, Florida, etc. For competitive golf pros, it’s ideal to spend a few weeks there to practice and play. Even if you’re not a pro but have the fortune and opportunity to do so - do it! Aim for later in the off season so when you return, your “home club” will be open or opening soon.
#2 – If heading south in the winter isn’t in the cards, the next best thing would be to visit an indoor facility where you can play and practice on a simulator. This way you’re still swinging and putting in those much-needed reps to keep your swing fresh and strong in the winter. If you’re working with a coach or instructor, now is also a good time to make changes to your swing.
#3 – Should you not have an indoor facility in your town, I would focus on putting. Whether it’s on your carpet, linoleum or on an actual putting mat, this is one of the most important elements of your game. This is where you take the most shots in a round no matter your skill level. If we can keep this part of our game sharp then we can come out of the winter with an edge on fellow golfers. There are lots of putting training aids on the market that can help, as well.
#4 – The winter is a great time to work on improving your biggest asset – your body. Strength and flexibility are very important for the game. During the season it’s easy to forget about this critical element and just go play with your buddies. But in the winter there are no excuses, the course is closed, so off to the gym you go. Fitness has become a huge part of golf (see Tiger, Bryson DeChambeau, etc) and there are lots of effective, golf-specific exercises you can do throughout the winter that will have positive impacts on your power, yardage and more.
Whether you’re headed south to practice in the sun or putting into a jar in your kitchen, even a little practice in the off-season can go a long way.