By Doug Hammer, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
Increase your golf "Shelf Life"
Most flaws in the swing can be traced back to the pre-swing or setup.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's that time of year for a large majority of the country. Time to play your final few rounds of the summer season and prepare to hang the clubs up for the winter. Hopefully you can find time to sneak away to warmer weather and play a few rounds. But even if you can't do that, you can still perform some routine maintenance on your game and hit the ground running when the frost and snow clears next spring.

Routine maintenance doesn't mean finding a heated range or dome to practice in. Although, if you live near one of these, definitely take advantage, it cannot hurt! Routine maintenance can be as simple as picking up a club around the house, watching golf on TV, or reading a golf article online!

Most flaws in the swing can be traced back to the pre-swing or setup. The pre-swing includes your grip, posture, ball position, aim, alignment, and mind set. These are things that are easy to work on in the house when you can't get to the range. Step 1 in your routine maintenance plan should include keeping a club or two around the house where you can pick it up and work on your setup from time to time.

Remember to grip the club in your fingers as opposed to your palm. This should feel like you are picking up a suitcase or briefcase handle. Keep your ball position centered for your short irons and wedges and gradually move it forward as the club gets longer. Posture should be athletic but relaxed, with a bend from the hips and athletic knee flex. Think ready position in Tennis.

You can work on your aim and alignment too. Pick a spot on the wall or in another room. Be sure your clubface is square when you grip the club. And be sure to rehearse your address routine to the ball. If you can use a mirror to check your setup, this will just enhance the practice!

Step 2 in your routine maintenance plan should include making time to watch golf on TV. Yes, I can write permission slips to wives and husbands to allow time for this weekly. Many of us learn visually, so watching golf with all the slow motion camera reviews these days can put a great visual in your mind.

Try to choose players who are similar in stature to yourself to emulate. For example, if you are 5'10" and 175 lbs, think more Zach Johnson and less Ernie Els. Also, look at the core movements, such as initial takeaway, top of backswing, and the follow through. Feel your way into those positions and you will develop good fundamentals.

The 3rd and final step, read! Read some golf articles. Find some that really make sense and cut them out and keep them so you can go back to them in the spring. The key here is don't read all of them and save them all. Most of them won't apply to your swing. Pick out the articles that focus on your weak spots.

For example, if you struggle out of bunkers, find a good bunker article. Or if you need a short game overhaul, find a chipping and pitching article. The important message here, focus on weaknesses not on your strengths!

Follow these 3 simple steps for the winter months and you will increase your golf shelf life and get a head start on your usual foursome! And don't forget to make time to schedule your trip to Scottsdale and visit Troon North Golf Club for some winter rounds or maybe even an emergency golf academy! I will see you there!

Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club
p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161
10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf
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