You cannot failed to have noticed how the temperatures are falling and the nights are drawing in and as the leaves turn from a verdant green to a myriad of reds, oranges, browns, yellows and more, it is time to consider how best to prepare your golf gear for the winter months ahead.
Of course, what you need to do depends very much on where you live. Some people are fortunate to be able to play through the winter, even if things are a little colder and wetter than normal.
Others may find they have a golfing hiatus as the snows descend and turn the lush green courses of summer into snowy landscapes well into the new year.
With that in mind, here’s our top ten tips on how to ensure that when you next pull your clubs out for a round, whenever that is, you and your clubs are in the best shape possible!
1. Check your shafts and grips.
Over time, shafts can become weakened by constant use, transportation and being hit by clubs thrown back into the bag and grips can become worn, slippery and decrease the quality of contact you have between yourself and the club. Go through all your clubs and check how the shafts and grips are looking and if you notice any wear and tear, take them to your local pro shop. They’ll be able to advise you if they need attention and how much it would cost.
2. Get your clubs re-grooved at the pro shop.
Another great thing to do during the quieter winter months is to head to the pro shop and get your clubs re-grooved. If you’ve noticed you are not getting as much control or spin on the ball as you would like, then it may well be because the grooves in your clubs have been worn down. Most pro shops offer a complete re-grooving service which can restore your clubs to an almost as new condition in terms of control of the golf ball.
3. Thinking of changing a club in your bag? Now is the time to do it.
Frustrated with your driver or putter? Fancy trying a more or less lofted wedge to the one in your bag? The quiet part of the season is the best time to do this as not only is it later in the season (and prices may have come down), but you also have the time to get to know your new club on the range or putting green, rather than buying it and immediately having to put it in play in the monthly medal!
4. Clean your clubs and check your bag, umbrella & other equipment for defects.
Golf equipment can take a lot of pounding during a regular season so winter is a great time to clean your clubs (as shown in the video below) and check through your stuff for any defects. Check your bag, the zippers, the stitching and that it is still offering your clubs the protection they need. Take out everything from the pockets and check your waterproof gear too (you don’t want to be in a downpour when you first realise that your waterproof jacket and trousers now don’t quite fit and have a hole or two in). Finally and most importantly, check your shoes remain comfortable, water-resistant and in good condition.
5. Have a golf equipment audit
It is easy to collect a lot of unnecessary stuff in a golf bag over a season that just simply adds weight to the bag. Empty all your pockets on the bag and cull what you have collected down to more manageable amounts. Do you really need three green repairers, fourteen ball markers, eight golf gloves and 200+ balls?
6. Don’t throw away old, scuffed or sliced balls – take them the range.
Carrying on from above, if you have culled a load of golf balls from your bag because you won’t use them, then don’t just throw them into the bin. Pop them in a bag and take them with you to the local range and you can hit them there while practising elements of your game. You can save a few bob and the range gets a few extra balls into the bargain.
7. Stay flexible – get to the gym during the winter months.
If golfing is one of the ways you stay active during the season, then don’t just stop playing and do nothing until next March. In that time, the muscles you use playing golf will slowly lose flexibility and efficiency, so do something about it. Head down to the local gym and work all your muscle groups. Not only will it benefit your health, but it will also help you when you next pick up a club again too.
8. Tale some refresher lessons with a local golf pro.
Golf professionals are like driving instructors in that they’ll often remark that even their most promising students, who display perfect behaviours when being taught, can soon pick up bad habits when they venture out alone. Winter may be a great time to banish some of the negative aspects of your game with a course of refresher lessons from your club pro. This will not only help you stay in shape for next season, but also help you improve your game and iron out any bad habits you have picked up.
9. If the weather relents, take the opportunity to get out on the course even for 9 holes!
If you find that the winter weather relents and the opportunity to get out onto the course presents itself, then even if it is just for nine holes, take it! For sure, you may be playing temporary greens and preferred lies, but you are out on the course again and it is a great way to beat the winter blues and get the golfing blood pumping through your veins once again!
10. Work on your game at the range with clearly defined SMART targets.
A great way to work through the winter is to work hard at your game at the range with SMART targets. This is a way you can work productively to comprehensively improve aspects of your game using Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-oriented targets. So, lets say for example you have struggled with your driver this year, you may want to improve your driving skills at the range, but you can do that much more effectively using SMART targets. So instead of just taking the driver out the bag and hitting 100 balls every time hoping that will do the trick, instead use SMART targets that are:
Specific – I want to be able to drive the ball straighter over 250 yards.
Measurable – I want to be able to do this with 8 out of 10 drives.
Attainable – The goal here is achievable, it is not looking for perfection (10 out of 10 drives) or a distance the player cannot achieve with their skills (say driving accurately over 300 yards in length).
Relevant – It is relevant to the player because it is an aspect of their game that they have recognised they need to work on in order to improve as a golfer.
Time-oriented – The golfer would like to achieve this by the time the new season starts in 2013. So there is a clearly stated time frame in which to try and achieve the goal.
Working on aspects of your game in this way and keeping a record of how you go is a great way to work in the winter season and come back to the tee next year in great shape and hopefully as a better player!