We all have days where playing Golf can feel more like an epic battle from an episode of TV’s Game of Thrones than the enjoyable, picturesque scenes we’re shown in the golf holiday adverts and with the UK winter closing in fast it can sometimes feel like playing ‘north of the wall’ too. So here’s some of our favourite tips for keeping your game in check and playing good golf over the winter period.
As the weather gets worse it’s hard to keep ourselves motivated to play and it can be tempting to go into golf hibernation for the winter but with golf being a game of physical movement and muscle memory, it’s important to continue hitting balls. This will help to keep our swing and its movements ingrained in the body so we’re ready to play our best golf when the season starts again in the Spring. Our driving range is a great way to do this but we would also advise to keep playing if you can. Perhaps try and play some new formats of games to keep things interesting. Gather together your friends and play Matchplay or a Texas Scramble. If you don’t know what these game formats are, google is your best friend 😉.
Set Clear Targets For Practice
Many good golfers use the time over the winter period to work on specific parts of their game that need improvement. Setting targets and having clear aims for your practice will help you focus better during your practice sessions and in turn will lead to better results. Maybe you would like to hit the ball further? Perhaps your putting needs work or you need to get better at controlling your distances with your wedges and short game. Winter is the perfect time to try and implement these changes as the pressure is off. There are less competitions and we’re not playing quite as much so making changes to your swing is not quite as catastrophic as in the middle of the summer. Speaking to and getting lessons with one of our pro’s at the Cranfield Academy could be a great way to get you ready for the next year of Golf.
We have the privilege of being able to offer Toptracer technology on the first 20 bays of our driving range. Using this system you are able to play Virtual Golf on a number of famous golf courses around the world. With many golfers complaining that their swing doesn’t transfer from the range over to the course in real life, this is
a great way over the winter period to help with that very issue. Virtual Golf puts you into a golfing mindset, forcing you
to make real golfing decisions like taking into consideration the yardage you are trying to hit, hazards you are trying to
avoid and forcing you to practice different types of shots, the very ones you would need on the golf course. Why not get your usual golfing buddies together and give it a try the next time you visit our driving range?
Local Rules and Preferred Lies
Did you know that the R&A (golf’s governing body) allow winter rules and ‘preferred lies’ to be played at courses from the 1st October at the discretion of the course you are playing at. What are preferred lies we hear you ask? Well, the rule states that:
“when a player’s ball lies in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less, the player may prefer the lie (pick and place the ball, see R&A rule 14.2b) within 6 inches”
This rule is particularly useful during the winter months when things get wet, balls become ‘plugged’ or muddy and sat down in small imperfections in the fairway grass due to bad weather conditions. During competition play it is important that you double check that these local rules are allowed by the golf club you are playing at, but during recreational play when the weather is bad we would encourage you to use this to your advantage as it keeps the game fun and ensures that good shots are not penalised by bad lies or muddy conditions. Remember you can only use this rule on short mown areas of grass (fairway’s and fringe etc), not in the rough or in hazards. Keep an eye out on our welcome board for when we allow these rules!
Avoiding Fat Shots
The dreaded ‘Fat’ shot is a golfers worst enemy and it rears its ugly head more often during the winter months. In the summertime when conditions are firmer, shots that hit the ground before the ball, while not being ideal, are forgiven somewhat by the club bouncing off the turf and continuing with some speed to hit the ball in the direction of our intended target. When conditions soften this shot can be a nightmare, the club plunges into the soft earth and all the momentum is taken away and the ball travels a much shorter distance than intended. There are two quick tips which can help with this. Firstly, play the ball an inch or so further back in your stance and secondly, keep your sternum slightly ahead of the ball throughout the shot. This does two things. It keeps the low point of your swing ahead of the ball meaning you should find it easier to hit the ball with a more descending blow. Secondly, in order to keep your sternum in front of the ball you are forced to keep your weight forward and not lean back. This again encourages a ball first contact and will hopefully keep that dreaded fat shot at bay.
Stay warm and dry out there and enjoy the winter! 😊
– Sam Archer