Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Golf - Are you ready?

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs at the United States Golf Academy every year about this time. Regardless of weather conditions, the Monday after the time change, the phone starts to ring. With every call comes the same question, “When is the golf course going to open?” This latest round of extreme weather was no help but for us the answer is soon, very soon. Are you ready for the new season? The following are a couple of simple tips to help make the start of the season a little easier and hopefully more enjoyable.

Check the grips on your clubs. Over time rubber grips become slick, even when not in use. Wash them thoroughly with hot water, soap and a nylon brush. For grips a year old or so this is usually enough. If the grips are more than a couple of seasons old it may be time to replace them. A good solid grip is a basic fundamental and holding on to the club is obviously easier when the grips are fresh and a little tacky.

Start Simple. There are only two things that influence the flight of the ball, the position of the club face at impact and how fast the club it is moving. Experiment with your hand position on the club to find the grip that brings the club back to square at impact.

Start Slow. When coming off a layoff it is not the mechanics of your golf swing that have changed as much as the timing and tempo of your swing. Go out in the back yard and start swinging a golf club with your eyes closed. You will quickly find out how fast you can swing the club before you lose your balance. For the first couple of outings of the year try to maintain that speed and no faster. Focus on making solid contact with the ball at the slower speed. You might find you have been working way too hard and the early season swing tempo produces the same or greater distance with less effort.

Start Short. Find a place to hit some wedges and short irons before you grab the driver and start whaling away. Once you find a swing that works with the short clubs, the swing for the long clubs will easily come back to you.

Invest in a lesson. None of us have extra money to throw around these days, but a ½ hour lesson with the right pro can do your game a lot of good. Look for teachers who are full time instructors or teach some everyday. There is a rhythm in golf instruction just like anything else and teachers can get rusty just like students. Talk to the instructor prior to the lesson. Tell them you are just looking for a review of your fundamentals. Now is not the time to go to a “method” teacher and overhaul your game. Look for the pro that can enhance what you do, rather than change you to their preferences.