Weather can be fickle and logistics do not always cooperate when you want to work on your golf game. Here are five ways to keep your game sharp when you cannot get to the course, or are confined to a small space.
What to do with without a club or ball
Those golf instruction books on your shelf aren’t just good for the pearls of wisdom dispensed in between the covers. Golf pros suggest using a book for a short swing drill when confined in the office.
Lay your palms on either side of the book with your natural lower hand (right for righties, left for lefties) extending past the bottom of the book, and place your top hand on over the opposite side. Take your normal golf stance and extend the book away from your body so it’s perpendicular to the target. Drop your hands straight down into address position.
Then simply execute golf swings, taking care to note the position of the book at key points in the swing. When your hands reach half way back, the spine of the book points directly up (or down, depending on how you gripped the covers). At the top, the book is parallel to the target and your hands remain in proper position on either side of the book, not supporting it from underneath. Halfway down, the book should be in the identical position as the backswing. At the ball, your wrists will roll to return the book to its beginning position perpendicular to the target. Do this repeatedly for a few minutes to build the muscle memory of a correct swing. Need a visual? You can also watch a video here, detailing the process.
What to do with a club, minus the ball
When you have more room and can use a golf club to practice your swing, repeatedly do so as slowly as possible, taking note of the clubhead position at key points in the swing. This will ultimately help you build muscle memory. A full-length mirror can provide visual feedback, if available. A heavily weighted training club is ideal for executing these exaggerated slow swings.
What to do with a club and practice balls
If you only have limited backyard space, whiffle balls have long been a way to safely launch iron shots around the house. Today, AlmostGolf manufactures a great plastic golf ball that is packed with CO2 pressure inside. These balls fly about one-third the distance of a real golf ball and will not bust windows, ding cars, or cause critical bodily harm.
Best of all for serious golfers, these balls can be worked like a normal golf ball, so a practice session can include knockdowns, punches, intentional draws and fades. There are even inflatable rings three feet in diameter with a realistic flag to use as a target or lay out a short hole in your yard or convenient field. If you want to save your grass, you can also purchase a small mat of artificial turf.
What to do when fully equipped and outdoors
Practice nets allow off-course golfers to whack full shots in the backyard with impunity. You won’t be able to accurately gauge results as far as hooking and slicing go, but as you strive for consistent contact you should realize from the impact whether you have launched a proper shot. Chipping nets are an effective way to work on distance control with your short game. If you don’t want to buy one, such as the nets available from OnCourse, you can also fashion your own practice net with chairs or poles and a heavy down comforter. When you want to hone your game, where there is a will there is a way.
What to do when fully equipped and indoors
Golf simulators have come a long way since they were introduced as a way to play indoor golf about two decades ago. These systems allow players to hit real golf balls from a mat into a screen, onto which golf holes from real courses are projected. The flight of the ball then transfers to the screen with a digital result.
The golf simulator provides feedback on critical factors in the golf swing, depending on the unit, in addition to displaying the result of the shot. Lower end units use club tracking, while more sophisticated ones can diagnose ball speeds, launch angles, and more.
Every club in the bag can be used with a golf simulator, from the putter up through the driver. A simulator can be set up for anything, from a practice session to a match with up to eight players on a choice of dozens of courses. Yes, off-course home practice has come so far that there is hardly a need for the actual course.