Stay Sharp All Winter Long

Stay Sharp all Winter Long
by Jim Hopkins – Instructor at Harvey Penick Golf Academy

For a golfer, there is almost no better place to live than Austin, Texas.  We can play on many, beautiful golf courses with good to very good weather almost year-round.   However, there are times when it is less than ideal to get out and play.  With shorter days, colder temperatures and, hopefully, rain, January and February can be difficult months to get out on the course and keep your game in shape.  Here are a few things that you can do when time is short and you are trapped indoors.

  1. Stretch – Flexibility is key to a good, full turn and a proper golf swing.  Instead of just sitting around and getting stiff, spend some time working on your flexibility.  Stretching is not just for before you tee it up but should be done daily.  It will not only help your golf swing but you will feel better every day.  All you really need is a chair and a golf club.  There are a number of good websites that have golf specific stretches anyone can do.
  2. The Slow Motion Drill – In his best-selling book, Harvey Penick promoted what he called the Slow-Motion drill.  It is just your golf swing done very, very slowly.  It should take at least 30 second to a minute to complete each swing.  Annika Sorenstam does slow-motion swings that take up to four minutes!  That is too much to ask for most people but it illustrates the point.  You can not do them too slowly.  Concentrate on making a perfect swing all the way to a full finish.  You will find that after four to five of these, you will be glad that you started with stretching.
  3. Putting – Putting is a great part of the game to practice indoors and you don’t need a perfect surface for it to be very effective.  This is when you need to work on the mechanics of your stroke and your set-up.  Make sure your grip feels comfortable and fits to the handle properly.  Your posture should be comfortable with your eyes over the target line and the ball forward in your stance.  Make a few strokes, making sure that your head and eyes stay perfectly still until the stroke is complete.  This is the number one fault I see in the academy.  It is very hard to make solid contact and put a good roll on the ball if your head moves.  When I was a junior golfer, I used to practice my short putting by trying to hit a round chair leg from about 3 feet.  If it bounced straight back, then my alignment and stroke were solid.
  4. Read a book on the mental side of golf – There are a great many golf books on the mental approach.  This is a great time to evaluate your course management skills and develop a solid routine.  You can pick up one of Bob Rotella’s books or any number of other authors.  One of my favorite is “Playing Lessons” by Jack Nicklaus.  It is an easy read and very informative.  He really goes in depth into how he manages his game around the golf course.  No one has every done it better.

Take a little time this winter and you will be a much better golfer come the warmer weather this spring.

Jim Hopkins
15201 Falconhead Blvd.
Austin, TX  78738
Ph. 512-402-1558



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