With warmer weather, golfers flock to the courses. Make sure you are ready for your first tee time with these at-home physical and mental golf exercises from our own Spencer Cody, Director of Golf Operations at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa.
Improve Your Fitness
Let’s start with getting your body in tip-top shape for making effective contact with the golf ball. Too many amateur golfers swing ‘at the ball’ while more accomplished players focus on swinging ‘through the ball.’ While training at home, it’s important to pay particular attention on increasing your flexibility and strength. Increasing flexibility allows you to create the ideal swing with a wide swing arc and improving core strength helps you to release the club into and through the ball with speed.
These days, many golfers find that yoga can significantly improve their movement. That’s right, the popular practice of creating a mind-body connection can not only help you to move a little easier, you may even learn to channel your inner peace during the most trying of golf games. Twisted lunges promote fluid movement in your core and upper body that will help prevent injury when swinging at speed. Stretching your lower body and hips will ease pain on your knees and lower leg joints while increasing stability and balance.
Golf may not feel like an endurance sport, but with games lasting upwards of four hours, it’s important to build strength that will last during a long game. To avoid cramping and injury, focus on exercises that improve your core. Taking a few extra minutes each day to hold a full-body plank or sit on a stability ball will help build strength that converts to power on the course.
To ensure you can maintain a strong grip on the club, you need to build strength in your hands. Opening and closing your hands on a dishtowel or stress ball will prepare you to hold a strong, constant grip during a game.
Practice Your Swing
We’ll say it again – your performance in the game of golf relies on your swing. Once you’ve tackled your workouts, put your muscles to use by homing in on your swinging skills. Correctly practicing your swing will inevitably help you when you’re on the course. Think of it this way: the more you swing off the course leads to fewer swings when you’re on. Set a goal to practice your swing 100 times a day to create muscle memory.
You should always practice your swing as similarly as possible to how you would play in the game. Slow your swing down and use a mirror to see whether you’re in the proper position. Avoid distractions and ensure you have plenty of space to attain your wide arch to achieve a smooth swing.
Lastly, pay particular attention to completing every shot in the best finish position. Check out the video below from Brech Spradley, Director of Instruction at Barton Creek Golf Academy and one of Golf Digest’s Best Teachers in Texas 2019-2020, for a demonstration of proper sequencing of the golf swing.
Don’t Overlook Your Short Game
One of the most overlooked areas of golf is the short game, specifically putting. Not surprisingly due to the precision required for these shots, golfers find their short game the most challenging. However, because a two-foot putt counts the same as a 330-yard drive, the fastest improvement in your results comes from focusing on your short game.
Start by practicing your putts close to the hole, then work your way back after you make several shots in a row. Be honest with yourself. Make sure that you’re not taking any shortcuts and practice taking every shot from several different angles so that you’re ready any scenario. Spencer recommends buying a putting mat and cup, like the PuttOut Pressure Putt Trainer, which is a great and safe way to practice your putting while indoors.
For chipping practice, you’ll need to pay attention to your speed and trajectory. Head to the backyard, lay out a towel 5-10 yards away from you, and chip at the towel and try to land the ball at least 10 times. Once you’ve succeeded, move around and see if you can make your shots from several angles.
Master Mental Practice
They say that golf is an 80% mental game, so you should focus some of your time on training your brain to stay positive and focused for the pressures of a real game. Just like in other sports, a game of golf is unpredictable, and you’ll want to prepare to handle any scenario. Incorporate mental techniques in your practice to help build consistency in your shots.
First, create a shot routine and stick to it. Every time you hit the ball, in practice or during a round, take time to evaluate the shot. Take a practice shot with perfect form and proceed to the actual swing completely focused on the outcome you want. Practicing your routine will help it come naturally in every circumstance.
While your preparation for every shot should be consistent, your shots should be different. Train in as many ways as you can think of, and from every angle. This will also keep practice from getting repetitive and boring.
To simulate the pressures of a game, practice with a friend. You’ll inevitably want to show off your skills and hit your best when you’re playing for an audience.
Keep in mind that it’s your next shot, not the one you just hit that’s your most important. Visualizing the purpose of every shot ensures that you don’t allow bad habits to intervene. It also helps you stay engaged with the task at hand and builds the endurance needed for the entire game.
Spencer Cody’s Reading Recommendations
When it’s time to put the clubs down, settle in with a motivational book that will keep you inspired and excited for the golf season ahead. Spencer recommends the following books by Dr. Bob Rotella, who works with some of the best players in the world on their mental game, and offers creative ways of providing golfers with techniques to overcome adversities on and off the golf course.
If the weather’s not ideal or you’re playing it safe and staying at home, you can still perfect your fundamentals and sharpen your skills away from the course. Use the tips provided here to practice at home effectively and get ready for a successful golf season ahead. You won’t regret it.
Omni Hotels & Resorts has over 25 golf courses across the country. Call one close to you to check tee times.