It's only the beginning of February, but it's going to be golf weather this weekend in the Northeast. Which means much of the country will be playing today and tomorrow. So dust off those clubs that you stowed in that cold garage and get the rust off your swing. Let's go play a few holes!
But how do you get the rust off the swing? Here are three drills or thoughts to get your feel back fast, so you can have some fun this weekend. They are from Golf Digest's top teaching professionals, and I've put them into context here to get your game in shape quickly. Enjoy and good luck with your game--and remember you can follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.
1. Rick Smith: Trigger your chipping feel
After a long layoff, the part of your game that suffers most is often chipping. You just don't have much feel when you haven't been playing a lot, and the small muscles in your hands and arms are the first to go. Here's how to regain that feel in a flash:
To create the feel you need to chip it close, use the thumb and forefinger of your right hand to initiate the movement. Those fingers are crucial to controlling wrist hinge, which is the key to hitting accurate distances.
As you start back, squeeze the grip with a trigger-finger action, letting your right wrist hinge and the club move slightly inward and upward. Once you've done that, simply maintain that hinge as you pivot your body toward the target through impact. Your goal is to keep the shaft leaning forward and to make ball-first contact. Try it on the range a few times before you go play.
[Click here for the complete tip from Rick Smith, as well as a bonus tip.
2. Hank Haney: Think of distance on the greens
Many golfers starting a new season forget that how hard you hit a putt determines how much break you need to play. And it's difficult to get the feel for the speed when the putter feels like a sledgehammer in your hands.
Reading break without thinking about distance leads to frustration. If you read the line perfectly on a 20-footer but hit the putt too hard or soft, you could be left with a four- or five-footer on your next putt. But get the speed down, and you can miss your read by a foot and still have an easy putt to finish.
The next time you play, approach your mid- and long-range putts thinking about a line behind the hole more than the break. This is the more important line in putting, and I visualize it a foot and a half behind the cup, like a little backboard. Try it. If you don't make it, you'll have a tap-in. Hit a few putts on the practice green with this thought in mind before you tee it up.
3. David Leadbetter: Start down smoothly
After a long layoff, it's difficult to find the right rhythm in your swing. Until they play for a while, golfers are often too quick starting down. Rushing this change of direction results in a loss of distance and direction. So think of how smoothly the pros make the transition from backswing to downswing.
Imitate the movement of a roller-coaster car at the top of the track. As it goes up and over a peak and then starts down, its speed is roughly the same. The acceleration on the downslope is gradual and culminates at the bottom of the track. Your swing should resemble this.