I have often told students that the winter months are a great time to work on correcting flaws in your game. They often don’t understand at first but it is easy to see why. The reason the winter is great for working on your game is because you will most likely not be going on the course and playing golf in the winter.
Why that is helpful when working on correcting flaws in your golf swing or your putting stroke is because when you are on the golf course your brain usually will revert back to old habits because they are still the most comfortable.
When on the golf course you will instinctively want to play well and because your old habits are the most comfortable, you will feel that you have the best chance of playing good with the old technique. Any new technique you are working on, whether a grip change or a backswing change or something else, will not be utilized during a round of golf because it has not become the habit you are most comfortable with. So a golfer should try to make changes permanent in the winter months by practicing them in the living room or garage, or at an all weather driving range.
Then when the snow thaws and spring arrives, you will utilize these new and improved techniques on the golf course because they have become ingrained habits that your brain will allow you to play with.
Some technique changes to work on in the winter:
Make a grip change: If you have been playing golf for at least a year or two with an improper grip it is likely that someone has pointed it out to you. You know you need to change it but every time you try, it feels so uncomfortable you go back to your old grip. As I wrote above, this is because you haven’t done it long enough for it to feel comfortable. Use the winter to make the grip change permanent.
First thing to do is to go online and follow the instructions shown in this link to achieve a proper grip. Follow it exactly. After you have set your hands on the club properly, hold it in that exact position for a half hour. Hinge and unhinge your wrists a bit, give the club a few mini swings, and try to feel the weight. Do this each day for a couple of weeks and you will have a new grip that won’t change when you get on the course.
Note: I know this works because I did it myself about 25 years ago and it worked like a charm. I was a self-taught golfer as a teenager and would shoot 75 each round but never lower. I went for a lesson and the pro told me that I would not improve until I weakened my very strong grip. I tried to change for many years but couldn’t because I kept going onto the golf course and reverting back to my old grip. Then I got an idea…I worked in the pro shop at the time in Palm Desert California and for much of my 8 hour shift I would hold a club in my hands the proper way. And presto…in a week my new grip was permanent. It works! Try it!
Perfect your putting stroke: Again this is something that I did one winter that literally changed my life. I have always been a great ball striker but never a great putter. I worked at it a lot because I knew it was holding me back from being very good and being successful in tournaments but nothing I did made much improvement because there were flaws in my stroke. Then one winter I had an idea that made all the difference. Here’s what I did…
At my house I had a sliding glass door that went out to my back yard. In front of the sliding glass door we had very lower fiber carpeting that mimicked a putting green pretty well. To practice my stroke, I put a plastic cup down a foot from the glass door and a ball down six feet from the cup. Looking into the glass door I used my reflection to make sure that the putter and the golf ball were perfectly inline, then, still looking at my reflection, I would make strokes that would send the ball directly into the cup. When I made a proper stroke I could see the ball come off the putter exactly where I was aiming. During that winter I repeated this practice thousands of times and after a while I began trusting this stroke without having to look in the mirror.
Now you might be asking, “How did that change your life?” Well after that winter, I signed up for the Met Area’s first pro tournament of the season, the Buick Classic qualifier in which one local golfer would get to play on the PGA Tour in Westchester. I literally had not played a round of golf in six months but was only working on my putting in the glass door and hitting balls at Skydrive. I putted like Ben Crenshaw that day and won the qualifier, then a month later played against Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
So it works. If you don’t have a sliding glass door, use a mirror. Make sure you see that the ball and cup are lined up straight and watch to ensure that your stroke is sending the ball to the cup. Practice that for a couple of months and your putting stroke will be perfect come spring time.