For most golfers in the United States, winter is a time to rest weary legs and sore shoulders from those sunny summers on the links. Because courses are most likely snow-covered and inaccessible, some golfers have the tendency to hibernate. But the off-season can play a critical part in your game once the snow melts.
"I find that there are two types of golfers here in Denver," says Tyler Ferrell, a swing coach and co-founder of Golf Smart Academy, "ones who work hard during the season and then shut down for the winter and those who work hard on technique for the winter and then just play and have fun during the season."
For those who are ready to put in the hours during the cold months, Ferrell suggests a balanced approach in the gym. Work in training that focuses on stability, core strength and flexibility.
"Many golfers want to focus on what they are already good at and don't see big improvements," he says. "If you are already strong, then look into yoga to help with flexibility and posture. If you are already flexible, then look into weight and stability training to use your flexibility better."
You heard right -- yoga for golfers. Books, YouTube instructional videos or a class with a certified Yoga for Golfers instructor can help you not only get limber but also gain mental clarity and strength. Training your brain is another key component of a winter workout plan. Ferrell suggests Thinq Golf's app, which uses science-based games and other methods to strengthen your brain. According to Thinq Golf's website, "golfers of all ages and abilities are able to benefit from these tools and work on their mental golf game in a way that is fun, easy and informative." It's like Lumosity for golfers.
So now you're hitting the gym (or your local yoga studio) and playing games on your phone to increase your mental stamina. While these routines are no doubt making you stronger for the summer months, there's still nothing quite like getting onto the course, hitting balls and practicing your swing without having to worry about breaking the living room lamp.
Most cold climates have indoor practice facilities that can be a great supplement to your other workouts. "Imagine you were a marathon runner: While running on a treadmill isn't perfect, it still beats taking months off during the winter," says Ferrell. "Golf is no different. I have seen golfers take one to two weeks of practice to reach midseason form, instead of the months it takes most golfers who just pack up the clubs and start over each March." Find your local indoor driving range or outdoor driving range with heated stalls to get some practice in.
If you're snowbound and end up on a Netflix binge, keep your golf club by the couch. Several trainers suggest gripping your club for several minutes at a time while watching TV or movies. You can up the ante by wrapping a piece of paper around the club and making sure not to crinkle it when you grip it, teaching your body to hold a club without tension in your arms or hands.
If you decide to use all or some of these suggestions, know that you are setting yourself up for a successful season ahead.