Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in a year-round golf haven like Florida, the winter months often signal a hiatus from regular play. Those of us who dwell in the colder climates typically encounter temperatures that limit our time outdoors. As a result, we’re all positioned to knock the rust off in the upcoming Spring. Unfortunately, knocking off rust isn’t always that easy. For example, if I pack on a few winter pounds during the holidays then my swing and short game feel may be affected.
The off-season should not signal a decline in your golf game. On the contrary, it is the perfect time to refine your skills and prepare to hit the ground running when the new season begins. I’ve put together a plan to how to practice golf in the winter, so you’ll be ready to pick right back up where you left off.
This article will help you not only maintain and develop your abilities, but it will open your mind to a better mental approach. Here’s what I’ll address to help you stay at the top of your game during the winter months:
- Effective At-Home Winter Golf Practice Techniques
- Essential Winter Golf Drills (You Can Do Inside)
- Developing and Perfecting Your Golf Grip
- Mental Training Strategies for Golfers
Each section focuses on a critical aspect of your golf game, ensuring that every swing, grip, and thought process is geared towards maintaining your competitive edge. Let’s step up your winter golf routine and keep your game in peak condition, ready for the first signs of spring.
How to Practice Golf in the Winter
1. Start with Your Winter Golf Practice Set Up
If you live in colder climates, then you’ll agree playing golf year-round is not always an option. I grew up in West Virginia where our golf season sometimes didn’t start until May. Every Spring required extra effort to get my game back on track. For the first few years I started the season by grinding it out on the driving range before I could enjoy myself on the golf course. Little did I know that there were ways to improve your golf game further while snow and ice covered the course.
One of my favorite recommendations for getting in golf swing practice is recording your swing on a tablet or a phone. If you are interested in technologies that help improve your golf game and provide golf tips then you should read my article on the top golf swing analyzer apps. Although you may not be able to go to the range and hit golf balls, there are low-cost indoor driving range remedies such as hitting nets, artificial mats and foam golf balls.
Setting Up Golf Practice at Home
If you’re setting up your own indoor driving range, here are the key factors to consider:
- Space Requirements: A ceiling height of around 10 feet is typical for most indoor golf simulators, making your garage an ideal location in most homes.
- Safety Measures: Hitting real golf balls indoors might create a safety hazard so foam balls are a great alternative.
- Equipment Quality: Invest in a sizable hitting mat to ensure that both you and the ball are positioned at the correct height, which will help in mimicking real-life conditions.
- Alignment Accuracy: Incorporate an alignment stick in your golf setup to maintain precise aim and stance.
For those looking to further enhance their practice, we’ve compiled recommendations on the best training aids available—be sure to read the linked “Top Training Aids” article for more information.
Other Indoor Golf Facilities
If you don’t have the space or simply prefer to practice elsewhere, don’t forget there options to stay golf fit in the winter. Some of the more popular names these days are TopGolf, X-Golf, GOLFTEC, and PGA TOUR Superstore also has a practice center with bay rentals.
2. Winter Golf Drills for Indoor Practice
Full Swing Drill
Hitting balls indoor can become monotonous if you do it several days a week. Although, you might get the feedback on how clean you’re striking the golf ball, it lacks the shape and carry distance of a real outdoor shot. Maintaining focus on not just hitting shot after shot will separate you from your playing partners when the warm weather appears. As a rule of good golf course management, play a mental round after you warm up hitting shots on your mat.
For example, visualize your favorite golf course and hit a tee shot followed by your approach. Personally, I place colored targets within my hitting net so I can ensure aim and trajectory match what I would expect on the real course. If you miss your target, then hit a greenside chip shot. The key to this golf practice method is maintaining on-course strategy to limit the number of strokes you take.
Putting Drills for At Home Practice
Let’s face it, putting practice can get old quick. However, there are a few winter golf putting drills that like to assign my students that have proven results. For these ones you don’t even need an indoor putting mat.
When it comes to putting your speed is the primary source of control. For example, if you hit a breaking putt too soft then the ball tends to break more. Likewise, if you were to hit the same putt too fast then the golf ball would accelerate through the break. To resolve this issue, I suggest my students practice this essential distance control drill. This drill is even more fun with a competitor.
Making Money Putting Drill
- Start by taking 6-8 quarters.
- Place them on the ground in roughly 5′ increments in a straight line.
- Standing at one end of the line of quarters, call the quarter you want the ball to stop closest to.
- If you play with a partner, the closest ball wins the quarter.
Connected Putting Drill
- Place your putter grip to the center of your chest.
- Slide your hands down the shaft of the putter so they feel extended.
- Assume your putting stance.
- Initiate the movement of the putter by maintaining the position of the putter grip.
For more putting tips and drills, you’ll want to read my putting article next.
3. Development of the Proper Grip
Over the past 15+ years of being a golf instructor I have found that most people lack the fundamentals of a proper golf grip. The grip sounds like an easy change but it’s one of the most uncomfortable things to manipulate.
Rather than changing your grip at the beginning of the season, do it in the winter months. This will allow you to develop trust and feel in the repositioning of your hand placement. Understanding the grip and how you can hit certain shots based on the placement of your hands is a definite advantage.
First, let’s cover what a neutral, weak and strong grip are and how they affect club face position. These terms are not specific to pressure, they are specific to placement.
- Neutral Golf Grip: Designed for square club face control and optimal release.
- Weak Golf Grip: Most common grip amongst beginners and people that hit fades or slices.
- Strong Golf Grip: Most uncomfortable grip but yields power and tends to close the club face.
Here is a quick video where I demonstrate the details of the neutral, weak, and strong golf grip.
Key Points of the Golf Grip
- If you struggle with a slice, try a strong grip.
- Play a weaker grip for short game shots.
- The placement of your top hand will significantly affect your pressure and control.
4. Off Season is Ideal for Golf Mental Training
When I was younger, I didn’t mind the crisp winter air and the numbness in my hands. Now, my bones ache just thinking about hitting balls in the freezing temperatures. Instead of practicing all the time, I look forward to the off-season because I take the time to read a handful of sports psychology books. This downtime has provided an opportunity for me to set goals for the upcoming season.
Like coordinating a work project, there should be a written action plan. Being able to measure your goals will keep you on track for progress. For example, here are my favorite personal golf statistics to track over the course of the active season:
- Putts per round
- Fairways hit
- Greens hit in regulation
Knowing the areas you need to improve in will help you balance out the strengths and opportunities (notice I didn’t use the word weakness) of your game.
If you know that your mental approach needs some help here is a link to a very informative article from one of our professionals.
My Top Golf Books for Winter Time Reading
In summary, there are proven golf practice drills that can develop your game in the wintertime. In some cases, a complete overhaul in the off-season can be the catalyst that pushes you to the next level. Whether this overhaul is swing change related or overcoming mental challenges of course management/confidence, it’s necessary for player development.
Key Takeaways on How to Practice Golf in the Winter
- Indoor training and the use of technology may advance your abilities on the course.
- Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t improve your putting skills with at home golf drills.
- Make your complex changes over the wintertime so you don’t fight it when golf courses re-open.
- Use your time wisely in the off-season to advance your golf knowledge.