Think Warm Thoughts.
How to Get Better During the Winter!
By Snyper on 1/3/11
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

With the golf season winding down (or over) for many of us who live north of the Mason Dixon, it is a time of reflection on the season that was. If you want 2011 to be better than the 2010 season, this 3-part series will tell you how to take advantage of the winter months and prepare for spring.

(Part 1)

Golf is no different than any other sport. If you want to succeed, you need to have a plan. It is extremely important to take time and evaluate your game in all aspects. If you want to improve, pull out a pen and paper and start formulating a plan for how you are going to be a better golfer next season. I recommend that you start your plan with a self-evaluation.

Every player, no matter your handicap, has pretty clear strengths and weaknesses. So, grab that pen and start things off by listing your strengths and your weaknesses. High handicappers will likely be more general with the things on their lists than will the more accomplished players. For example, a strength for a 25 handicap may be that he or she makes good shots from inside of 100 yards. A scratch golfer, perhaps, may list a similar strength to be their ability to get up and down from within 100 yards. The point here is that you are listing your strengths and weaknesses from your perspective.
Be realistic about the area of your game that you want to improve.

Once this list is complete, it is up to you to decide what you want to improve upon in the coming year. Obviously, we would like to get better at everything. And while I hate to burst your bubble, the reality is, that ain’t happening. So, be realistic about the area of your game that you want to improve. High-handicap players should try to stay away from evaluating how many strokes each weakness costs them during their rounds. Instead, focus on the weakness that is going to make the round much more enjoyable for you if you can improve it. In other words, if you break an average of four putters every year because you get angry about three putting every green, then focus on improving your number of putts per round (and perhaps some anger management). Maybe your frustrations are a result of the number of tee shots that you hit into the trees or out of bounds each round. You, then, should focus then on hitting more fairways. Naturally, improving any weakness is going to lower your scores, so worry more about fixing things that are going to allow you to enjoy yourself more while you are playing. This will help you stay motivated to practice and play as you work towards improving. For the lower handicaps, you should be doing just the opposite. Most likely, you are already playing and practicing quite regularly and shooting lower scores is motivation enough for you to put in the time that is necessary to improve. So, you should be searching your weaknesses for the areas of your game that are costing you the most strokes. For example, in my game, my scores on par 5’s are unacceptable. After evaluating this situation, I noticed that my second shots on those holes are a big weakness. While I’m probably only talking about four shots throughout an entire round, those four shots can cost me as many as five or six strokes. So, this is a weakness that I plan to focus on strengthening next season. For single digit and lower handicaps, your weaknesses are naturally going to be smaller and more specific. However, that makes them no less important to your game.
Regardless of your handicap, I would suggest picking no more than two of your weaknesses to target for the upcoming season.

Regardless of your handicap, I would suggest picking no more than two of your weaknesses to target for the upcoming season. Improving anything in your game takes time and a great deal of effort, so one or two areas of improvement are quite sufficient for a season. You do not want your goals to become an obstruction or a deterrent. A necessary level of success along the way is vital to maintaining your desire to see your plan through to the finish. Spreading out your focus to four or five goals is going to prevent you from improving any of them to the level that you desire.

So, to summarize part one, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your game. You can be as specific or general as you wish. It is your game and your evaluation, so criticize as you please. Once you’ve made your list and you’ve checked it twice, select one or two of your weaknesses that you would like to improve. Be excited about your choices and about the potential of considering these areas to be strength instead of a weakness. Keep those positive thoughts throughout the cold and the snow. When spring finally does arrive, you’ll already be off to a good start!

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source

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