The balls fly farther, the greens roll truer, and the clothes aren’t quite as laughable, but one thing golf still hasn’t figured out in the last 50 years is how to get around winter. Snowbird jaunts and 50-degree heat waves asides, most of the country is still stuck inside with its proverbial noses against the glass, which is pretty much how our bell-bottomed forebearers experienced January as well.
As a concession to the limitations of the season, Golf Digest is rolling out its 1 Percent Challenge, which features a month-long curriculum of small tasks that will help players get ready for the season ahead. A great idea, yes, but let’s face it, not entirely original. In its February 1974 issue, for instance, Golf Digest detailed six Winter Tips from Club Pros of the Year, which like the 1 Percent Challenge, prescribed a series of small drills players could work on in their living room while watching (...Googles popular 1974 TV shows...) “All In the Family”. How well do they hold up? Let’s take a closer look.
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Make Your Pitching A Piece of Cake
The Advice: The first in the batch is the least dynamic. Place a baking pan on a chair, and chip balls into them? That’s it? Oh, also: “Make the loser bake a cake in the pan!”
How well does it hold up? It’s fine, practicing your chipping indoors always helps. Although then eating a cake out of the same pan? We'll leave that one to the health inspectors.
Move Your Legs Straight Down The Track
The Advice: Another one that is pretty skimpy on creativity. It’s not even really a drill as an attempt at a visual, with the weight shift of the downswing meant to feel like trains moving laterally along the tracks.
How well does it hold up? Not great. Yes, a golf swing should broadly feature a weight shift from a golfer’s trail side to the lead side, but it also should include some rotation. Modern teachers like a big push into the lead toe, followed by rotation into the lead heel as well. In that sense, a “straight” line visual isn’t necessarily the best.
Sand Wedge Heft Will Strengthen Left
The Advice: Chip indoors with only your lead hand, ideally alongside an American-made sedan.
How well does it hold up? Great, even if you now drive a hybrid. Along with generally strengthening your non-dominant hand, it’s also a great way to work on squaring the clubface, as even John Daly can attest.
As Ye Waggle, So Ye Shall Swing
The Advice: Practice waggling behind the ball instead of over it.
How well does it hold up? Well, the waggle is still a thing, most often in the form of golfers rehearsing the start of their takeaways. But new insights reveal that a wide stretch with your arms and shoulders on the takeaway is more beneficial than a quick cocking of your wrists. That’s why the modern waggle incorporates more arms and shoulders than the wristy older ones.
Stick With The Tape To Square Your Stroke
The Advice: Stick two parallel pieces of white tape on the carpet and practice putting by keeping the putterhead within the tracks.
How well does it hold up?: The good news is most carpets now are more puttable than those 1970s shag options. The problem is the straight-back and straight-through putting stroke is a bit of a fallacy. All strokes arc at least a little, some just more than others.
Look Yourself In The Eye For A Better Posture
The Advice: Use a mirror to ensure you’re holding your head high at address
How well does it hold up? Timeless (well, maybe not the sweater). Fittingly, this was a point made to start our 1 Percent Challenge (demonstrated below) and it applies here, too: You can spare your swing a lot of trouble if you start with the right address position. Use a mirror to ensure you’re standing sufficiently tall over the ball, and everything gets easier from there.