Have You Applied the Antifreeze to Your Golf Game?

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(The following is the first training installment from Top 50 LPGA Instructor Maria Palozola for ChicagoDuffer.com. Visit her website at My Golf Instructor today.)

BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE...

Yes. Yes it is cold, but that doesn't mean you need to let your game freeze this winter. Something that just breaks my heart as a caring instructor is when I see my students working hard and making progress over the summer, only to let it fade away during the off season. I often think they must feel like a rat in a wheel. It breaks my heart yet at the same time it is so furstrating, because it just doesn't have to be that hard. After putting in hours hours hitting practice balls, working on your short game, spending money on rounds and taking lessons, it's wise to have a game plan that will prevent your game from unravelling in the cold months. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent that from happening.

Living in a northern climate doesn't mean golf has to stop. I lived and taught golf in Chicago for a decade before settling back in my home town of St. Louis. Interestingly enough, St. Louis is much more seasonal when it comes to golf because of a lack of facilities in general, but especially in winterized golf facilities. Chicago on the other hand has many ranges prepped for the cold weather as well as indoor opportunities. I was the first Director at the Links & Tees Golf Dome in Addison and when that opened it was a game changer for me. I kept my lessons going, but also kept my game in good shape.

1 STEP FORWARD AND WELL 2 MORE STEPS FORWARD

You don't have to back track with your game just because it gets a little chilly. There are several options for honing in your game over the winter:

  • Work on indoor drills for every part of your game. You don't even need to hit a ball to accomplish this. On my game improvement site http://www.mygolfinstructor.com I have 30 indoor drills listed with videos demonstrating how to do each. That's just the tip of the iceberg too, as there are many more. I share one of my favorites with you below.
  • Hit outside at a covered/heated range. With heaters and wind blockers, many ranges offer you the opportunity to hit and be sheltered no matter what the weather. Be sure to dress appropriately with knit caps, long underwear, Under Armour, layers and even hand and foot warmers. You'll be surprised how warm you get once you start swinging.
  • Go to a golf dome like Links & Tees in Addison, IL. Not only can you work on your full swing, but many of these facilities offer short game areas as well for putting, chipping and bunker play.
  • Find an indoor hitting bay. There are indoor facilities where you can't see the ball fly like in a dome, but rather just have you hitting into a net. These are just as good and sometimes better as you can become to outcome oriented when you see your ball flight. It's much more important to focus on what's going on in your swing and your contact than where it's going in the off season. If you must see where it's going then check out simulators at restaurants and entertainment centers in the area. Some even offer leagues.
  • Learn. Read articles and watch videos. Work on a game improvement site like http://www.mygolfinstructor.com. and spend time watching your favorite players on television. The point is to keep your mind in the game and keep you thinking about good golf.
  • Get a net and hit in your garage or basement. If you have the space, for just a few hundred dollars you can set yourself up with a golf net and mat so you can take a few swings whenever you have a free moment.
  • Just swing! Whether you hit in the back yard or a nearby field or simply just swing in your living room, do what you can so that you don't lose feel for your grip, your posture or your swing. The ball is not relevant at this point. Just keep the feel going.
  • Last, but definitely not least, work on your golf body through a solid golf fitness routine. I also have a vast number of fintess drills on MyGolfInstructor.com. If you are dedicated at all to this you'll most likely gain yardage over the winter rather than lose yardage.

To help you get started I'd like to share one of my favorite drills. Close to 20 years ago as an apprentice pro I used this tip when I got a one minute spot on Chicagoland T.V.. I thought hard on what drill I should give that could help golfers of all skill levels improve their swings. Without seeing your swing or knowing what you need to work on, I need to pick a universal drill than can help all players keep or get their swing in shape when they are away from the course. It's a drill I call Swing Plane Point Check and it has held true through the years to help beginners and professionals alike. The best part is it can be done indoors!

SWING PLANE POINT CHECK:

The first thing to note here is that at all times during your swing your club is either parallel to or pointed at your target line IF IT IS ON PLANE. That's the purpose of this drill; to see if your club is on plane at all the major check points.

Step 1 - Lay a club or shaft down on the ground pointing at your target and set up so that with the club you are gripping in your hands, the head is hovering over the shaft on the ground. Your clubface should be perpendicular to the shaft on the ground (Which represents the target line).

set-up

Step 2 - Swing back so that your club reaches the point of being parallel to the ground (1/4 backswing). Check to make sure it is parallel to your target line.

Step 3 - Swing until your left arm (for right handers) is parallel to the ground (1/2 swing). If you have cocked your wrists properly and your club is on plane it will be pointed at your target line.

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Step 4 - Finish your shoulder turn until you reach the top of the swing. Your club should again be parallel to the target line.

Simply repeat these positions on the way down and then mirror them on the follow through part of your swing as well. Just remember, the club is always pointed to or parallel to your target line at all the check points.

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KEEP THIS TRAIN ON THE TRACKS

Perform this drill every day for 10 minutes. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised come spring time at how on track your golf swing has stayed during the off season. It will also help keep your body golf fit by going through the various positions and holding them. 1 step forward and 2 steps back stops this year!

Maria Palozola has been a leading golf instructor for over 20 years. She has been a Top 50 Instructor with the LPGA since 2008 and is currently listed as a Golf Digest Top 5 Teacher in the State. She currently offers private golf lessons in the St. Louis area at http://www.stlouisgolflessons.com and offers online instruction at http://www.mygolfinstructor.com.