This is the first in a series of essays on things to feed your golf addiction in the off-season, when cold and snow drive those of us in the northern climes away from our beloved game.
The best thing a golfer can do in the golf off-season is to play golf. There’s no need to stay off the course just because the weather has turned cold. If the ground is clear of snow, there likely are courses open.
The key is not to expect much. The cold temperatures, hard ground and wind all will conspire to prevent you from scoring well. The course will have temporary, winter greens, so putting is a joke. Some courses in Michigan even reverse the tees. You start with a temporary tee near the 18th, and play backward to the 18th tee box, which has a hole cut in it. The final hole is the first tee.
Proper clothing is essential. Keep your head covered, your core warm, and dress in layers. I wear a wool hat from Tilley (I love the built-in ear flaps), flannel lined pants from LL Bean, Nike turtlenecks and golf fleece, an insulated vest, a wind breaker and wool socks.
Of course, all those extra clothes will keep you from making a full turn. But maybe that’s a good thing. I tend to overswing anyway.
The hard ground makes it very difficult to play irons, so I load my bag up with woods and hybrids. It’s easier to sweep the ball off the permafrost than dig into it. Lob shots are impossible, but that just makes it a good time to practice your sweeping pitches. The winter wind—at least in Michigan—is often strong, so you’ll need to work to keep your tee shots low.
Golf ball selection is important. Get one that has a very low compression and a soft cover.
Winter golf is fun, though. I’ve played golf in Michigan every month of the year for the last 46 straight months; on Thanksgiving break; Christmas Eve; New Year’s Day; and in mid February and March. As soon as the snow clears, and the skies are sunny, I’m packing my clubs for the course.