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Just because it may be too cold to play golf where you live this time of year doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of steps you can take to keep your game sharp. PGA Professional Rob Labritz explains.
There’s a common misconception that when the cold weather comes, golfers place their bag of clubs in a closet and don’t take them out again until March.
If you take your game seriously, you know it doesn’t have to be that way — and we’re talking about having to take an expensive vacation to a tropical destination.
You can get serious work done on your game in your house, at an indoor range (think dome), or maybe your golf course even offers heated bays where you can stay warm while hitting shots outdoors.
Whatever the case may be, there’s one point of emphasis you should be focusing on, so says PGA Professional Rob Labritz.
Since you’re not hitting on grass, Labritz said, you’re likely to be hitting off a perfect, flat lie on turf all winter, which makes striking the ball solidly mush easier than hitting out of rough, or from an uphill, downhill or sidehill lie in the fairway.
“It’s all about focusing on solid contact,” he said. “In most cases, you’re not going to be able to see ball flight — you’re hitting into a net, or hitting in an indoor range. Even if your at an outdoor range, the ball isn’t going to travel as far as you’re used to because of the cold air. So zone in on making solid contact. You can work on all of your game — half swings, 1/4 swings, 3/4 swings and full swings, chips and putts. Make these types of swings with all clubs to see how far each one carries starting with a 1/4 swing. So effectively, my 8-iron will carry with a full swing 160 yards. So my half swing will carry about 80 yards, quarter swing 40 yards and so on. Get those dialed in.”
If your club or local PGA Professional has access to technology such as Trackman or Flight Scope, Labritz says that can be an enormous help as well.
“You can really dial in your numbers with that kind of technology,” he said. “You just have to make sure you’re not neglecting your chipping, pitching and putting in the winter. That’s the most important thing. That’s where you’re going to save all your shots in a round. You have to keep that sharp”
Find yourself stuck at home? Get in front of a mirror and become familiar with the positions of your swing and your address.
“Look into a mirror and start to own your set-up position,” Labritz said. “Use the mirror for a golf swing checklist. The mirror can really help you trim down the fat. Are you a little in front of it? Trim down on that.”
And, finally, here’s one thing you can do that will work wonders for your game and — since we’re in the holiday season — you may not want to hear… fitness.
“Stay long and limber,” Labritz said. “We’re not talking about lifting a lot of weight and bulking up. You don’t want to do that. You want to be long and lean. I double up my Yoga time in the winter months. Since you can’t play your usual 3-4 hour round of golf during this colder months, dedicate some of that time to your fitness. You won’t believe how good you will feel out on the course once it warms up.”
Rob Labritz, who has played in five PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008, 2013 and 2016, as well as the Westchester Golf Association’s Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at www.RobLabritz.com and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz.
T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.