How to enjoy winter golf

I know, for some, that title sends chills up and down their body. For others, they look forward for the time when the golf course is almost empty (almost, because if you there, it is not empty).

Other people think, “What, isn’t golf suppose to be played when the sun is bright and warm”. Yes, but standing still for long periods of time because the golfers ahead are slower than “cold molasses”, is not fun or “real golf”. wintergolf2

For me, winter golf is a time when I can “take my time”, and enjoy golf. I am looking for relaxing swings of the golf club, not for a low score or a long drive, but a time I can relax and enjoy the game. (yes I know, I just said that. There is a reason for that.)

The game of golf is not intended to be a game of frenzy swings, but an opportunity for seeing how well you really can “play” golf. (remember – golf is a game.)

Here are simple “suggestions” to have a good time.

1. Leave your #1club in your car or at home. It is not needed. It will only get you in trouble in the winter. You have clubs in your bag that can give you same distance you normally have, you just haven’t discovered that yet.

2. Have a plan and play the plan.

3. Embrace the winter rains and weather, they will always be there.

4. Use your woods as often as you can. Sweep the ball off the ground/grass. Do not “hit down” on the ball, unless you like to dig the ball out of the mud in front of you.

5. Do not try to hit the ball as high as you can. If you do, you will be forever hunting for the white top of a golf ball that has buried itself in the soft course. Also, don’t hit the ball as hard as you can. (see above why).

6. For winter golf, you are allowed to hit the golf ball a little softer so it doesn’t bury itself when it lands.

raingolf17. Don’t try to hit the ball out of a mud divot. This is winter time and there are winter rules, like “use common sense when playing golf in the winter”.

In the winter you are allowed to pickup the ball, wipe mud off the ball, and drop it back into the mud. 🙂

8. At the end of the day, you will be surprised how well you can really play and how low your score can be (if you are keeping it :).

Important information: Wear winter pants, the water proof kind. They are easier to clean than your blue jeans. Wear waterproof boots and have lightweight wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry. (Dry and warm feet are happy and if they are happy you will be also.)

 

by John Vosgien

Expert bad weather golfer

Reading Golf Green Tips

Golf Green TipsI’ve experimented with a new putting stroke for some time now and have come to the same great results as Craig. This involves a pendulum stroke; an accelerated follow thru; a much shorter backward stroke and finally a method of practice (putting) each time before I play that day. It’s obvious that the recent “majors” winners on tour are highly effective players using pendulum strokes and using their bodies as anchors. Their success is no coincidence. Not wanting to change to a belly type putter, I did the next best thing and simply copied their triangular pendulum stroke using the triangle formed by the arms and shoulders.  And using the shoulders to drive the pendulum action back and throw the ball. Golf Green TipsMy key thought is to initiate the backward stroke with the left shoulder and the forward stroke with the right shoulder. Both strokes in this manner are “push” strokes, not “pulls”. The pull with the shoulders is too inconsistent in my experiences. The big benefit in the forward “push” stroke is that you actually feel the acceleration thru the ball better with the trailing shoulder pushing the ball. Nothing else I have tried creates this feeling of acceleration thru the ball. Acceleration is critical in keeping the ball on line. The “push” stroke going back and forward aren’t jerky but rather a measured tempo going back and twice that tempo going forward. I never change this tempo back and forward, regardless of distance. I simply lengthen or shorten the stroke for the distance needed. The tempo is the same for every stroke back and twice the tempo going forward. The second change I’ve made (also critical) is to practice making a much, much shorter stroke going back than going forward. By using a very limited stroke going back (than you have in the past) you will feel that the backward stroke is too limited and you subconsciously feel you must increase your tempo to gain any distance. Golf Green TipsThis acceleration is good not bad. This feeling just happens. It’s not planned. The opposite is also true in that a longer backward stroke results in a slower stroke going forward every time because  you believe the stroke is too long and you automatically decelerate without knowing it. Trust me this just happens. For a 3 foot putt, my length back is seldom more than two inches and on fast greens only one inch. All of my follow thru(s) are at least two to three times the length of my backstroke due to the accelerated tempo. I can’t tell you how automatic this becomes with a feeling you’re going to make every single one within 3 feet. Again the strokes are made with the shoulders. I use this on all distances and make an unbelievable number from 6 feet as well. The last thought I have is on longer putts over 6 feet. Before every round I spend at least 5 minutes on a flat surface on the putting green using the pendulum stroke with three balls and “no target”. I simply stroke each ball (not looking up until all balls are putted) using a backward stroke a set distance (which for me is to stop the stroke when the putter face reaches a point on my back foot) and start the forward stroke at twice the speed going forward. I do this to gauge the speed of the green that day. I putt all three balls without looking up and simply notice how far they all go. I repeat this again in the opposite direction, to get an average distance both ways with the same stroke. This gives me a distance for that day for my “basic” stroke. On the course I try to “feel” that basic stoke every time. I don’t allow any thoughts to enter my mind other than feeling that stroke for that distance. My experience is that my basic stroke usually  goes 10 to 12 paces depending on the speed of the greens that day. To insure that I am putting with more feel than mechanics, I also hit some balls simply looking at the hole and not the ball trying to feel that basic stroke for 12 paces. You’d be surprised at how your mind adjusts to varying distances once you know your basic stroke for a set distance. You should adjust your distances on downhill or uphill putts by simply looking at a spot shorter than the hole on downhill putts and  further than the hole on uphill putts. Golf Green TipsTo improve your success on sidehill putts, you should practice sidehill putts by placing three balls on the same line directly behind each other (two to three feet apart) and stroke the shorter ones first until all three are made. You’ll notice that the further you are from the hole the higher the break, relative to the other balls you just played. Hope this helps you as much as it has me.

Golf Chipping Tips You Can Do In Your Backyard

When you chip you should keep your wrists firm. And here is a great way to feel this.

Grab two clubs and grip one as normal and put the second club next to the first so you have an extension as is pictured below.  Once this is in place simply chip as normal and if you find that on your follow-through you hit your body with the extended club, then that is a sure sign you are using your wrists incorrectly.

For proper follow through

When chipping you should in effect be blocking the shot so the wrists don’t break down at all.  So simply keep practicing until your new chipping action becomes a habit.

 

 

 

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Drill for Chipping Accuracy

A lot of golfers lack accuracy in all areas of their game for one simple reason.  They aim the club in the wrong direction to start with.  Aiming the club should be one of the simplest things in golf but very few golfers do this well, and I think it’s because most golfers setup at the final target instead of an intermediate target.

Whether you’re chipping, pitching or hitting a long shot you should always pick out your final target and then imagine a line back from this to your ball, and then pick out a spot about 2-3 feet in front of your ball that you can aim at.  Doing this will make it much easier for you to aim your club, instead of trying to aim it at some target which is often yards and yards away.

Accuracy when chipping should be easy, but a lot of golfers find it difficult because they use too many moving parts.  Your chipping swing should move pretty much straight back and straight through. It is especially important that the clubface goes directly down the line towards the target, even after you’ve hit the ball.

A good drill to learn how to do this is by placing clubs on the ground pointing directly towards your target and either side of the ball so you have enough room to have the club move backwards and forwards to the target.  Just keep chipping balls making sure your club is going more or less straight back and straight through.

Chipping for accuracy

Obviously for longer chips and pitches the club should go on a more rounded arc, but for short chips you should play them just like long putts.  Actually it can also increase your accuracy if you use your putting grip for chip shots and use the same pendulum action.

Another great drill for improving chipping accuracy is to get a piece of four by two or an umbrella and place it so it’s pointing directly towards your target.  Then simply place a ball just on the inside of it so you have enough room to put the clubhead to the ball, then chip along the piece of wood or umbrella.  This drill will give you instant feedback as to whether or not you are swinging straight back and straight through.

So here’s a summary of what you should do to improve your accuracy when chipping…

•    Pick an intermediate target 2-3 feet in front of your ball on a line directly at your target.
•    Place clubs on the ground with enough room so that you can hit balls between them and this will act as a guide for you to swing straight back and straight through.
•    Chip along a piece of four by two to once again get the feeling of swinging straight back and straight through.

One final thought.  The more you can keep your club moving straight along your target line the more accurate you’ll be.  Good luck.

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