Here we are; the off-season for golf has arrived for most of you. I’m in Texas, and that off-season starts a little closer to January. We are still in good weather. However, for the rest of you up north, the off-season is here, and it is time to make those hard changes you have been holding off on. In this blog, we are going to chat about some of the ways that you can practice in the off-season and some ways to keep your game fresh and ready for the spring so you can get back out on the course and wow your buddies with how far you have come over the off-season where they sat on their ass and watched TV.
CTRL Swing Master
So this one should not come as a shock to you at all. The CTRL Swing Master is the perfect tool for you to take into the off-season. You can use it to take swings and get feedback, and you can get that feedback by hitting into a net or not even making contact with the ball. CTRL has several use cases where just taking swings to the metronome helped them lower their handicap by 30 strokes. Jeff Ramirez went from shooting 130 to breaking 100 by controlling his tempo. With CTRL, your off-season can be much more productive, and you don’t have to leave the house. Take swings in your living room during commercial breaks, and you will get a little better while you enjoy the off-season.
Mental Game Practice
There are many ways to spend your off-season getting better, you can make swing changes if you have the time to practice, and you can also work on the mental aspect of the game. As you get better at golf, the mental game becomes more and more important as an aspect of the game. Once you are breaking 80, the game is 90% mental and 10% physical. The game is 95% mental and 5% physical when approaching scratch. When approaching breaking 100, the game is much closer to 60% physical and 40% mental. So why don't we actively go out and practice our mental game?
Mental practice is as important as any physical practice you may do, so why not work on your mental game while it's too cold to work on your physical game? The off-season is perfect for mental practice, but you should do mental practice in bed for 5 minutes every night, even during the season.
The mental practice I would work on is the focus. A great golfer will let their focus wane considerably while not hitting a shot. They can control their focus enough to let it go into a very precise focus on their shot right before they hit it, then let it widen back to what is happening around them. If you are mentally tired after a round of golf, you should work on allowing your focus to wane, as you are holding it too tight throughout the round. If you hit a lot of crappy shots out of nowhere, you aren’t getting your focus tightened back up before you hit the shot; you are leaving it too broad.
Another great mental exercise is playing a round of golf mentally. Imagine yourself hitting every shot. Imagine what is going on around you if you were on the course. Tighten your focus on the shot you are going to hit. Imagine what the swing feels like, what the contact feels like, and what the ball does in the air. Imagine every detail down to the last rotation, then do it again for the next shot. Play an entire round of golf in your head doing just this.
Imagine yourself making putts, hitting great drives, and hitting great approach shots, and you will be able to do it a lot easier when your next round comes. This will help with your focus and with your confidence. The mental part of golf is essential, and adding mental practice with physical practice will help you see the most progress the fastest.
This one is self-explanatory. The one thing you can always do during the winter is putt inside. There are heaps and heaps of putting drills you can do while inside. I recommend focusing on starting the ball off on your line and your stroke. I don’t think there is one perfect stroke. If you have something you can do consistently, great; if not, work on your stroke. You should first understand what kind of putter you have and how much arc you should have in your putting stroke, and then buy a training aid to help with that arc.
My favorite training aid for putting is, of course, the Pelz Putting Tutor. It doesn't force a specific arc. Instead, it helps you hit your ball on your line. I use this constantly while practicing putting. I putt with it five times on the drill, then five times off, then four times on, and six times off. You will try to wean yourself off the putting tutor. I always start my day with the Pelz Putting Tutor.
Do you have a full mirror? If you do, then mirror work is the best way to start a swing change. Start by making the change on a very slow swing you watch yourself make in the mirror. This is much more helpful if you can hit the ball right after. Take it to a simulator and hit balls after doing mirror work. If you do want to do mirror work, make sure you know what you are looking for when looking into the mirror. If you don’t know what you are doing with mirror work, it can lead to a step backward in your game.
This is the perfect time to make a swing change if you have a simulator or range you can go and hit balls at. Swing changes are tricky because you always have to take a big step back before you take a step forward. Because of this, you need to ensure that you have plenty of time to work on the swing change before the season starts back up. A swing change is some serious work, and you need time to groove it before you step out onto a golf course.
Just because it is cold out does not mean that you should sit idly by and wait for the spring to get to work on your golf game. Keep grinding and use this as a time to catch up to the players that are better than you!