Winter Golf Practice – Get the most out of it

So you live in colder part of the country.  Maybe there’s snow on the ground, maybe there isn’t but the temperature outside doesn’t make you want to hit the golf course.  And it’ll be a while before spring arrives and melts the snow.  What do you do to improve your game.

Actually winter golf practice can be extremely productive.  Imagine that spring time comes around and not only are you not rusty but you feel like you’re ready to play the best golf of your life.  Here are the essentials you need to make this your best winter practice session.

1. A quality golf mat

Nothing is more frustrating than hitting golf balls off rock hard mats at the driving range.  They don’t provide realistic feedback.  They don’t allow you to hit down and through the ball.  The tees may not be adjustable or they are those rubber tubes.  Yech!,

Getting a quality golf mat for your house will offer you some great practice time.  You can hit down and through, you won’t injure your self and you won’t wear holes in the carpet.  Look for a mat that is thick enough to hold normal tees, and allow you to hit down and through the ball.  I recommend the Country Club Elite Golf Mats.  You can find a review of them on my reviews page.  Make sure that you pick a stance mat so that your feet are at the same level as the golf mat.

If it can hold tees than you can create a gate practice hitting through it and do other drills involving tees.  Plus it’ll give you real feedback.  You know when you would have hit it fat and you can practice getting the right amount of turf.  You can also put a sock or a piece of cloth an inch behind where you would put a golf ball and practice hitting the turf, but not hitting the sock.  This will ingrain the right feeling of taking a divot after the ball.

Get a Video Camera

A video camera will really allow you to see what you’re swing is doing.  I recommend one of the newer cameras that record on to memory cards.  The reason is that on the card, each video is an individual file.  There’s no rewinding or fast forwarding through video tape, and you can copy selected (or all) clips onto your computer for further analysis.  The newer cameras also feature slow motion mode.  My camera can do 240 frames per second.  The beauty of it is that I can really see exactly where the club is throughout the entire swing.

Once you have your camera, you can do a few things.  You can take video from behind you.  This is called a down the line shot (or DTL).  You can also take a Face On (FO) video. Both angles are very useful for swing analysis and seeing faults.  It is very rewarding to see your faults, work on them, and watch as they disappear. Also, get a tripod.  You will need it.  It makes things so much easier.

A Net

If you have the mat and you have the camera, your next best swing analysis tool is a net.  A net allows you to hit actual balls without fear of breaking valuable objects, or putting holes through walls.  Get the sturdiest net you can get if you are going to hit actual golf balls.  Cheap nets have been known to break and allow the golf ball to actually break through the netting.  You don’t want that to happen.  You want a net that can handle golf balls.  If you’re not hitting actual golf balls, you can hit something like the almost golf ball or birdie balls into the net (see the review of BirdieBalls from the reviews page).  These should puts less strain on the net.

The benefit of the net is that you are hitting something.  It’s not just a practice swing and for most people there is a difference.  Hitting something forces your body to react the way it would on the golf course.  This is will make the videos that you analyze more meaningful.

A putting cup or a home putting green

With a putting cup you can practice putting off carpet.  The benefit of doing that is that you can practice a solid stroke on level ground.  You want to know that you’re putting stroke will put the ball on the right line. The downside of putting on carpet is that you don’t know how fast it is.  Without a stimp meter you don’t know what speed you are grooving your putts for.  Odds are that the greens you play on will be significantly faster or slower depending on the type of carpet.  I would recommend that most amateurs practice on a putting surface that closely resembles the courses they play the most.  If you play on public or municipal courses anything around 10 on the stimp meter would be excellent.  If you play at private clubs that have faster greens, putting on a surface with 11 or 12 on the stimp meter would be better for you.

Home putting surfaces do not have to be expensive.  On the birdieball.com website, they have putting surfaces starting at under $100 that can be either 10 or 12 on the stimp meter depending on the options you choose.

The other thing to look for is that the ball drops into a cup.  It doesn’t have to be a big drop but it should drop in.  Putting cups with a steep slope are unrealistic for this reason.

A home putting surface also allows you to create breaks.  This is ideal.  You can practice flat putts and breaking putts on the same surface, and at speeds that are similar to the courses you play on.  What could be better than that?

Take out your video camera and record your putting strokes too.  You’d be amazed at how much you can learn from watching your putting stroke.

A Simulator

Finally, if you have some extra cash lying around, a simulator greatly complements all of the above.  I recommend the Dancin’ Dogg Optishot.  There are several different manufacturers that make simulators.  P3SwingPro is another.  These are fun, allow you to play full rounds with friends, or even have driving or closest to the pin contests.  Plus they tell you important information about your swing.  They tell you things like club head speed, path angle, club face angle and more.  These are great fun and can definitely help you improve.

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