I thought I would put off my first Newsletter of the year until regular golf was on the menu in the UK. However, it looks like we are going to have to wait for our regular fix as the weather continues to disrupt play everywhere. We must count ourselves fortunate in our part of the world as at least some play has been possible, unlike parts of the Midlands and the North where regular closures have been ongoing since November.
The Professional Tours have no real weather issues and the season is cranking up to the first Major of the year at Augusta in April. Good to see Rory regain the World Number 1 spot and I feel it is going to be a big year for him. Physically and mentally he is in a great place and his form in the 2nd half of 2019 was incredible. I'm sure Tiger is still going to be relevant and wouldn't be surprised if he snaffled up another Major. I include a nice little interplay between the two of them at the recent Genesis Open Pro-Am as Tiger Jokingly tends the flag as Rory is in the group behind some 160 yards away, his golfing riposte is quite good. See it here
Only six weeks ago we heralded in a New Year / Decade and almost all of us buy into the New Year, New You concept. By now with limited play and when it has been open not too appealing. It's easy to become demotivated. Good fortune with work and family wise have seen me in a very sunny Algarve over the Festive Season and now baking in the Florida sunshine (temperatures unseasonably warm as in the 80s, you'll be glad to hear!) I do appreciate not everyone can get away. So here are a few ideas to reboot your New Year / Decade resolutions and remember we are only six weeks from British Summer Time beginning.
1. Get / keep mobile. It is easy this time of year when the course is closed to stay in the warm and watch catch up tv. Studies have shown the benefits of walking on our strength and blood pressure, so if you can't get on the course, get your steps in locally. A spot of stretching is always good (especially for those of us north of 40) and if you fancy going up a level join a yoga or pilates class. We might not reach Miguel Angel Jiminez levels of flexibility (see here) but a little goes a long way. 2. Take a lesson. Winter is a good time to check your fundamentals and have some new ideas to take into the new season. Over the years working with elite players, what it has taught me is their attention to detail. For example, after warming up in the lesson their first question to me is "what do you think of my set up?" where as higher handicappers will ask "what do you think of my swing?". If part of your set up slips out, it will affect your swing, so for instance if your grip or alignment is out, you will need to make a compensatory move to recover from that and in my experience that generally doesn't end well. Just before Xmas I went for a lesson with a Pro colleague of mine. He improved my posture, got me freed up through the ball and in one game over the New Year I had three 2s in a round, something I have not done in over 25 years! 3. Short Game - a little and often. With it being cold, standing on a driving range for an hour is no one's idea of fun. 10 minutes chipping in the garden (keep the house behind you whilst doing this) will sharpen up your technique and feel and not too long that your fingers will drop off. Roll some putts on the carpet every other day and build up your technique and tempo. When we emerge in the spring or golfing abroad our movement will feel more coordinated and fluent than if we leave the putter in the garage over the winter.
Enjoy what golf you can and keep swinging and chipping at home or on the range and before we know it the 2020 UK season will be underway.
All the best
Fellow of the PGA