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Golfing Green: Get Early Start For Better Game

January 12, 2010

By Matt Hombach

Local pros encourage golfers to work on their game even in cold-weather months.
In early January, people strive to kick bad habits and pack gyms in hopes of shedding pounds and shaping up for 2010. According to several local golf professionals, while ideal weather is a few months away, now is the perfect time to set some golfing resolutions for the new year.

Bill Fritz, first assistant golf professional at Renditions Golf Course, advises golfers to practice what they learn in lessons this year and truly resolve to make a swing change if they need it.

“All too often I see golfers dedicate time and money to lessons in the hope of changing their swing,” he said. “But I will see them on the range or on the course the next week going back to their bad habits.”

While spring is the most popular time for lessons, Fritz and the professional staff at Renditions get a flurry of requests for teaching sessions when good weather days present themselves during the winter months.

Joe Rahnis, the head pro at The Woodlands and Diamond Ridge, has several tips for golfers setting resolutions for the new year, the first of which is to get in better physical condition.

“A lot of golfers can have a good round going before fading when fatigue sets in late in the back nine,” he said. “Golfers get tired legs and lose leg drive, which is essential for good, consistent ball striking. A little bit of physical conditioning can go a long way toward finishing strong.”

Rahnis also tells students to dedicate themselves to playing more golf. Making a conscious effort to get on the course, even for just nine holes, can improve scoring ability and confidence.

Finally, Rahnis also suggests golfers revisit and re-plan their practice sessions, allotting 50 percent or more of their practice sessions to the short game.

“Too many golfers falsely believe that pounding a bucket full of drivers on the range will improve their game,” he said. “Golfers would see more dramatic improvements if they spent their time working on chipping and putting instead of toiling away on the driving range.”

Michael Sabol, the pro at Queenstown Harbor, believes physical conditioning is another worthy resolution.

“The two best things you can do for your golf game is to increase core strength and overall flexibility,” he said. “I push all my students to strengthen their abdomen, obliques and lower back. This will help your turn and improve distance.”

Sabol advises golfers of all ages and abilities to develop and stick to a regular stretching routine that works all major muscle groups and focuses on the legs, trunk and shoulders.

“When good golf weather returns in the spring, golfers may still be a bit rusty, but they will be stronger and more flexible and will get back up to speed quickly and be hitting the ball better and farther,” Sabol said.

Phil Rosenbaum, first assistant professional at Hayfields Country Club, encourages players to get started early in the year to improve their game.

“Winter is a perfect time to hone golf skills; you just have to be creative with your practice drills and techniques,” Rosenbaum said. “Swinging a club, even without a ball, is a great way to keep your body and muscles active after some considerable time off.

“I encourage my students to putt a lot inside, on the carpet at specific targets. You can really make your stroke perfect and your distance control more precise by hitting a lot of putts on the carpet.”

It may not be ideal weather on the course, but now is the best time to make a plan to improve your game.

Issue 145: January 2010