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Taking the 'off' out of off-season

October 12, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

Are you preparing for the off-season?

We're coming to the time of year when many golfers won't be playing as much, or hardly at all.

Does that mean your game should go into hibernation?

Not necessarily, and you can keep it from doing so by keeping fit with an array of exercises during the off-season that will help keep you from having nightmares about your swing when you pull the sticks out for the new season.

I was told long ago, with Midwest weather prohibiting any thought of playing golf, to get in front of a full-length mirror and exercise. I can't say I have upheld that suggestion year-in and year-out, but it does keep you from having a horrid feeling of "swinging lead irons" for the first time after the layoff.

The top suggestion in front of a mirror, and especially if you have spacious room, is to swing your club as you would playing outside. This will keep your swing somewhat intact during idle time.

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Other suggestions include stretching exercises for the calf, hip and back, front hip and hamstring. These can be done daily doing each stretch five to 10 times for a period of about 15 seconds each.

This is not to say a golfer shouldn't be doing these types of exercises during the season, but fewer tee times are common at this time of year.

It's also the time to do some maintenance on your clubs, short of purchasing an entirely new set, a driver or fairway woods.

Consider changing your grips if this has not been done during the season. Grips wear out and get slippery, and you can save time by doing a replacement now.

Where you have your right thumb (left thumb for a lefty) is a good indication whether the club is worn. Grips will also carry a shiny look. They can be replaced at any golf club.

Check the lofts on your irons, which have a slight tendency to adjust. Together with the shafts the epoxies have a tendency to become loose at the hosel, especially during the hot and humid weather and when your clubs are stored in a confined area.

While new shafts are far more expensive than grip replacements, it's worth a look to alleviate any problems heading into the new year. Steel shafts alone have about a 5-to-6 year life before they become pitted.

Cast clubs, more popular now than forged clubs, still have a chance of changing one or two degrees for every several hundred balls you hit. That's why you'll see a PGA player constantly checking the loft position.

If you've got fairway woods that need refurbished but don't want the expense of new clubs, consider a trip to the repair doctor who can work on the heads.

When I lived in Cleveland, we were fortunate with the more severe weather to have several indoor facilities which you could not only take care of your clubs, but also simulate your swing on a golf course. That's another option and when the snow flies here (more than I ever expected) I'll be in the hunt for an indoor facility.




Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column column appears every other Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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