February 22, 2008
This winter’s surprisingly warm weather in the Cape Region has been an unexpected boost to local golf courses, even when the occasional snowstorm reminds us that it’s not yet spring.
The courses aren’t flooded with players, but they’re not empty every day, either. As with other seasonal businesses, player participation is heavily weighted toward a segment of the entire year. If a Cape Region public course can’t entice enough folks to play between mid-April and mid-October, it doesn’t matter what happens during the other six months. That club will go under.
Local public courses such as Baywood Greens and The Rookery have enjoyed a nice bit of business in the last couple months—far more than they were able to coax out of golfers during the past few frigid winters. And with reduced off-season prices, it’s also a good deal.
Focusing on the process
For some golfers, winter golf is a great opportunity to focus on the process of playing, instead of scoring.
Just look closely at your golf course. With frequently damp turf, dormant greens that haven’t been mowed, and iffy lies in sand bunkers, there are umpteen ready-made excuses for not shooting one’s handicap in any given round.
Under those circumstances, winter golf lets you play with a more relaxed mindset. When the course conditions aren’t the best, why would you think you should play as well or better than you did last September?
If anything, winter golf rounds help keep your swing in some semblance of normality—at least, as normal as it is during the season. It should also remind golfers of the useful advice given by Bob Cullen and Dr. Bob Rotella in Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect (Simon & Schuster; $20 SRP). As they showed with examples from the professional tours, real improvement comes from dealing with the process of swinging and putting, and deliberately paying less attention to the eventual score.
Winter golf simply makes it more likely that you’ll be able to act on their advice.
For example, consider the challenge of putting on the slow, bumpy greens you can’t avoid this time of year. Even a perfect putt can go off-line with a single hop. Why worry about what you can’t change? Just make the best putt you can, and accept the results.
For wintertime play, however, it’s especially important to follow a tip from Dave Pelz, the short-game guru and author of 10 Minutes a Day to Better Putting (Elton-Wolf; $29.95 SRP). He says all putts should be hit with enough force to have them stop 17 inches or so past the hole, if the putt misses.
During the winter, golfers can sometimes see a small rise form around the hole as the ground thaws out. This is called a donut, and the slight change in elevation can easily redirect a too-slow golf ball away from its target.
Even if you like to die the ball at the hole, as made popular by Ben Crenshaw, don’t bother doing this on a Cape Region course during a winter round. That way lies madness.
Workouts and other tortures
Wintertime also gives golfers a chance to stay in good physical condition, while waiting for warmer weather.
Recently my wife and I chatted about our different fitness regimens, if that’s what they can be called.
She likes long swims at the Sussex Family Y, but that option doesn’t work well for me.
Because I am far past legally blind without my contacts, I tend to bump my head or arms against the pool edge during laps. This can be discouraging, as well as extremely painful.
Instead, I use our stationary bicycle in our basement, six or seven times a week, all year long. It’s hard to fall off of it, and there’s no traffic.
In addition, I use the time to watch videotaped replays of the most recent PGA Tour events.
When I explained this arrangement to my wife, she made a face and strongly suggested that the combination of exercise biking and watching golf would be perfectly acceptable to the Marquis de Sade.
Different strokes, I suppose.
February 22, 2008