Golf Gazette: Ideas for shaping up your game over the winter

Congratulations! You made it through the holidays. Well done.

Now, I don’t mean to pry and what you say here, stays here. So, just how many big ones did you put on? C’mon, be honest. No, you don’t need a new scale. It’s tough keeping the cals in check with all those holiday goodies around, isn’t it? 

Recently I was doing my regular routine at the gym when I noticed a gentleman working out on a piece of equipment, performing an exercise that resembled a golf swing. Being your nosey golf guy, I introduced myself and asked him about the exercise he was doing. Ron Schneider of Southold explained to me that as a golfer he looks for ways to keep his game sharp during the winter.

“I use all the machines in the gym, but especially like this one because it provides resistance, helps my swing tempo and my weight shift,” Schneider said.

I know of far too many golfers who stow away their clubs for the winter and then go into couch-potato mode. That’s fine if you are willing to accept the fact that it will take you a few months to pick up where you left off last year. So, in order to help you hit the course running this spring, I asked a few of our local golf professionals for some off-season conditioning tips.

“All of us who stay active this winter will have a big head start for spring golf,” Island’s End Golf Club’s head professional, Bill Fish, said. “I don’t want to harp on the obvious, however stretching, yoga, situps and pushups will certainly help with flexibility and strength. Walk as often as possible and bring your favorite iron with you. Work on holding the club properly as you walk and make short rhythmic swings and use the club to help you stretch.”

Scott Anderson, the new head golf professional at Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue, offered tips. Anderson recommends yoga, stretching and strength training. “If possible, take lessons,” Anderson said. “Have someone watch your swing that knows the mechanics. Winter is a good time to focus on where you want your swing to be in the spring. And work on keeping your hips, shoulders and back flexible.”

“Keeping your game in shape is always a battle,” said Kenny Weinstein, owner of Riverhead’s Sandy Pond Golf Course. “There are plenty of flexibility exercises golfers can do over the winter. And you can also practice your chipping and putting.”

New Year’s is the time when many folks make resolutions and that includes golfers. I asked some of our local linksters about their golfing resolutions for the coming year.

Perry Angelson of East Marion: “To lower my handicap and add 20 yards to my drives.”

Carol Cordone of Southold: “My golf resolution for 2015 is to play as much as I can and to par the first, fourth and eighth holes at Island’s End.”

Doug Ogiejko of Calverton: “My goal for 2015 is to make short work of my shots around the green. My loss of strokes is typically from missed chips and misreading putts. I want to be less technical with my putts and more fluid on the greens.”

Nan Schade of Southold: “I only had two decent rounds last year so my resolution is to play better. I also hope to keep my left shoulder and my head down.”

 19TH HOLE A young man and a priest were playing golf on a beautiful spring day. They were on the tee of a short par-3 which had a pond directly in front of the green when the priest asks, “What club are you going to use on this hole, my son?” The young man answered, “A 6-iron, Father. How about you?” The priest said, “I’m going to hit a 7-iron and pray.” The young man hit his shot onto the green about 15 feet from the hole. “Well done,” said the priest. The priest then gets up and tops his shot, hitting it right into the pond. “Oh my, what happened?” the priest exclaimed. “Did you see anything wrong with my swing?” The young man replied, “I don’t know about your church, Father, but in my church we pray with our heads down.”