How to Prepare For Your First Rounds of The Golf Season
A COMBINATION of the clocks going forward and the start of The Masters at Augusta National means that, for many, the golf season is finally getting under way. Golf bags that have been locked away in a cupboard or a garage for months will be dug out in readiness for some “action”.
But are you really ready to go? Here, we take a light-hearted look at some of the steps you should be taking in readiness for that first 18 holes.
Check the Contents of Your Golf Bag
The chances are that there will still be a half-eaten chocolate or energy bar hidden somewhere in the bowels. Or a piece of fruit that may now be sporting some rather attractive green mould. And what about that half-drunk bottle of water? Or the can of beer that hasn’t seen the light of day since you bought it as part of multi-pack laster summer? Be brave - dump the lot.
Remember the last time you played? It was raining, you headed to the car park, took off your sopping-wet waterproofs and put them inside your bag, never to see the light of day again for five months. They may well jump out of your bag themselves. Before you even consider wearing them again, give them a wash and an airing - your playing partners will thank you for it.
Oh dear! You really did mean to clean them before you tucked them away for the winter, but you convinced yourself that you would do it “later”. And, of course, “later” never came. There is nothing else for it - get yourself a bucket, fill it up with warm, soapy water, find a sponge or a cloth and wipe away those months of caked mud. Make sure you clear everything from the grooves on your irons in order to ensure that when you strike that wedge for the first time, the ball will land on a sixpence and screw back six feet (or not)! And if your clubs are caked in months-old mud, the chances are that your golf shoes will be too - if they are beyond hope, treat yourself to a new pair. Your feet will thank you for it!
Admit that it might be time to consider buying some new golf balls. Have a ferret around in your bag and throw away the balls that you have kept “just in case”. There is no need to spend a fortune on new golf balls - why not treat yourself to some lake balls? But a word of warning - when you get them home, if the bag contains balls made by a manufacturer you have never heard of then there is probably a very good reason.
Don’t head straight to the course. If you haven’t picked up a club for five months it stands to reason that, unless you are a complete natural, you are going to be somewhat rusty. And if you are a complete natural, the chances are that your clubs wouldn’t have spent the past few months in a cupboard. When you get to the range, start off with at least 100 balls. And leave your driver in the bag. Remember that you are going to be using muscles that have not been exerted for many weeks. Start off by hitting gentle shots with a wedge. Using a half-swing to kick off with. Gradually work your way through the bag and, if you must, finish off with a few shots hit with the driver. And swing within yourself. You don’t want to pull a back muscle on the driving range. Remember, too, that range balls are not always of the finest quality, so don’t be too dejected if your finest strikes with the Big Dog do not travel 350 yards! Don’t forget to spend time working on your short game - lots of time. You use your putter more than any other club in the bag so get on the practice green and hit lots of putts from all sorts of distances. Find a practice bunker - if you struggled to get out of the sand before the winter set in, it is highly unlikely that some miraculous cure will have come along in the interim.
Book a Few Lessons
Bad habits become ingrained all too easily. It is a new season so why not make the decision to have a few lessons with your local club professional? They know what they are doing. And remember, if you are spending your hard-earned money on lessons to take on board what they tell you. A new grip will feel alien at first but stick with it. Listen to what he or she tells you and then head back to the driving range and work on it. It may not pay off immediately, but it will click eventually.
Is it time to finally admit that your 30-year-old Pinseeker irons have seen better days? Maybe your clubs are still absolutely fine, but do they need new grips? If the grips are shiny and slippery then they are beyond their sell-by date. Replace them.
Shock to the System
Don’t assume you are simply going to be able to walk straight back out onto your golf course of choice. The game is currently enjoying a boom, don’t you know, so you may find that it is more difficult to get the tee-times you want. And don’t be surprised to discover that green fees have increased. Inflation is going up on a weekly basis and golf clubs have to survive.
You play golf because it is fun and because you enjoy it. It will still be the same huge cause of frustration that it has always been but you will be out there in the company of people you choose to be with - and all restrictions have now been lifted. What’s not to enjoy?
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