GOLF GAZETTE/Jay Dempsey: Getting ready for the season? Here are some tips

Every year, just after New Year’s Day, you see them out there. A new group of road warriors all decked out in their spanking new sweatsuits and sneakers, determined to take off the extra pounds that mysteriously appeared over the past 12 months.

You can usually guess how long you’ll be seeing the newbie’s plodding along by their attire. The more outlandish and wrinkle-free the outfit the more likelihood the garb will be tucked away in the back of a closet before too long. Probably won’t make Groundhog Day. The best of intentions, so often short-lived.

As golfers, we head into the golf season with resolutions and goals, hoping to lower our handicaps, putting us in position to qualify for this year’s U.S. Open. We’re determined to change our bad habits, improve our swings, practice and play more. Like our pavement-pounding friends, we don’t always make it to the finish line.

Here are a few tips to help get your golf season off on the right foot.

1. Clean all your equipment — right down to your golf shoes. And don’t forget to change the cleats in your shoes if they’ve seen better days. If your grips and glove are showing signs of wear, replace them.

2. Get a good instructional video from the library or go on the internet and review the basic fundamentals of a golf swing. One of the best golf instructional books ever written is Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” An early-season lesson from your favorite professional is also a great way to kick off the year. Don’t complicate your swing thoughts. Stick to the basics and keep it simple.

3. If you’ve been sitting on the couch all winter, you had better get off your duff and begin to exercise. Start walking. Do some stretching. Lift light weights. The last thing you want is a pulled muscle early in the season and have to put your clubs away until you mend.

4. Work on your short game. That’s where it counts. If you hit 275-yard drives but can’t chip or putt worth a rat’s tail, you won’t be scoring well or winning many matches. You’ve probably heard this one — drive for show, putt for dough. How true it is.

5. Set realistic goals for yourself. If you play to a 25 handicap, no matter how hard you work to improve, most likely, you won’t be in single digits by the end of the season. By the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it’s hard.

6. Keep track of your putts each round. Theoretically, you’re supposed to take two putts per hole, so 36 putts each round is good. Anything less is better. If you can get close to 30 putts per round you will be posting some real good numbers. And no excuses now, you can practice your putting at home.

7. Most important, have fun and enjoy yourself. You’ll have your good days and bad days out there. Expect it. There are many things at lot worse than a bad day on a golf course. Root canal, anyone?

TEE TIMES Southold Town is offering the following golf programs this spring. Basic golf with Tom McGunnigle will be held on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. starting May 14 and running through June 18 at the McGunnigle Farm on Route 48 in Peconic. Beginner and intermediate golf lessons will be held at Island’s End Golf & Country Club in Greenport. Session A will be held on Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. beginning May 4 through June 5. Session B will be held on Sundays from 3 to 4 p.m. starting May 8 and running through June 5. Contact the Southold Town Recreation Department at (631) 765-5182 to register and for additional information.

19TH HOLE “The difference between golf and politics is that in golf you can’t improve your lie.”