With spring (technically) here and nearly 600 courses in our backyard, golf is on the minds of folks in Wisconsin. Before you race out to the course, consider these tips to not only improve your game, but to also make for a better experience while you’re out there. I sat down with Chris Goodwick, General Manager and Director of Golf Operations at Wild Rock Golf Club in Wisconsin Dells, to give us some professional advice.
- Understand the season. Spring is a great time to find golf deals on courses throughout the state. But do you know how the weather affects your game? The ground is wetter – even underneath the top surface of the grass. This results in deeper divots. Make sure to repair your divots if (ok, when) you make them. On the green, the grass is just beginning to grow. This along with the dampness will result in slower putts with less break than they will have when summer rolls around.
- Warm up. Why? 1. You may have been slightly inactive for the last 5 months. (Guilty.) and 2. Golf can take a toll on your muscles and joints. Chris mentioned that hamstrings are often overlooked as people concentrate on their shoulders, back and arms. In fact, your legs and hips also do a lot of work when you swing the clubs. You may want to consult with your physician on “best practice” stretching and strengthening exercises for you.
- Practice and start slow. One thing Chris sees a lot is people trying to kill the ball with their drivers the first time out. And I’ll admit, I fit into that boat. Well, driving off the tee isn’t the skill that diminishes most when on hiatus. It’s definitely your short game – chipping and putting. Chris’ tip: Start with a wedge and get the “feeling” back in your swing. Don’t power the shot, let the swing do the work. And, practice putting indoors just to get the feeling back again - so you have a consistent putt when you’re on the actual greens. Odds are this will save you more strokes per round than your drive. Lower score → happier golfer → you won’t throw your clubs into the lake.
- Dust off your clubs. Literally. In addition to making sure the club faces are clean, (If you’re like me, you may have put them away last year after a bad round still clumped with mud), take a towel with lukewarm water and wash your grips. This not only takes care of the cobwebs but it will also brings back some of the tackiness to the grip. This could also be a good time to replace your grips, check the cleats in your golf shoes and make sure your glove is hole-free.
- Restock the golf bag. Make sure you didn’t remove any essentials from the bag. Even the pros like Chris, keep a supply of sunscreen, mosquito spray, band-aids and aspirin; along with balls, tees, green repair tool and ball markers. In spring, with the added dampness to the course and increased chance of rain, you may want to add a second towel to keep your clubs clean and an umbrella to help keep you dry.
With even these few tips, your experience on the golf course can be greatly improved. Feel free to talk to your local pro to see what they recommend doing to start your golf season. And remember, golf is a game… at times a very frustrating game… but it’s still a game. Have fun!
Chris Goodwick has been the General Manager and Director of Golf Operations at Wild Rock Golf Club and Wilderness Woods for 14 years, along with being a Class A PGA Professional. He is also the 2014 PGA Resort Merchandiser of the Year, marking the second time he has won that honor.