Here is a question you may not have considered before: how do golf courses and country clubs operate over the winter? What does their staff do? Do they shut down entirely, or do they offer alternative activities for golfers to take advantage of over the colder months? The answers to these questions are likely to vary based upon the golf course or club, but it is an interesting and relevant question nonetheless. When the AtTheTee.com team did a bit of research on the subject, we discovered that there are a wide variety of options for golf courses. This blog post will be centered around the topic golf courses in winter, and we have also gathered a number of tips on how you can continue to practice and improve your golf game during the colder months.
Forbes Travel Guide
“Top 10 Ways to Save Your Golf Game This Winter”
According to Hayley Bosch of Forbes Travel Guide, when it comes to golf, “if you don’t lose it, you lose it. Which is why winter may be the most important season of all–if you take a few months off, you’re likely to lose your fine-tuned touch and have to start from scratch come April.” The editors at Forbes “consulted golf pros at the helm of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star golf resorts to glean their best off-season tips so this spring you can hit the fairway in fine form.” Ms. Bosch’s best advice includes hitting the weights, “improv[ing] your mental game, learning yoga, “swing[ing] weighted clubs,” “practic[ing] in the mirror, visit[ing] the driving range, “chip[ping] and putt[ing] on carpet,” “do[ing] one-armed drills, head[ing] to the simulator, and watch[ing] the Golf Channel.”
Ms. Bosch consulted Shawn Cox, the director of golf at The Grand Del Mar in San Diego, for advice on hitting the weights. Mr. Cox recommends focusing on “strengthening your glutes and maintaining your core [because] strong glutes help with balance and power. [In other words], you’re more apt to strike the ball harder and farther, hit after hit.” If you’re looking to improve your mental game, Todd Wagner of The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, “suggests working on your inner pre-shot routine. Take a deep breath, relax, and visualize shots in your head [because] developing a pre-shot routine for every shot will help lower your scores.”
Visiting the driving range is another important aspect of keeping your golf game in shape over the winter. Ms. Bosch spoke with Dennis Clark of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania. She explains that although “this may seem obvious, [it’s] important. Nothing helps your game more than actually hitting golf balls. If you can’t hit the links, head to the indoor range to practice your drive. Mr. Clark agrees that visiting the driving range “will keep your swing in a groove and keep your golf muscles in shape.” He also recommends a simulator, which “monitor[s]–and display[s]–club speed, trajectory, spin axis, launch conditions, distance, and a slew of other club and golf ball variables, helping you get a real feel for your game. Clark adds that simulators “give the player feedback ‘simulating’ ball flight one would get outdoors.” For more information on Bosch’s Top 10 Ways to Save Your Golf Game This Winter, click here.
“14 Winter Golf Tips”
When it comes to tips on keeping your game sharp this winter, we recommend a helpful article compiled by the folks at Golfshake.com. In this article, they provide advice for golfers who will be hitting the links this winter. To start, “don’t use a golf cart in winter, you will get cold and your swing will suffer. [Instead,] walk to stay warm.” You should also always make sure that your hands and golf balls are warm, as “cold golf balls don’t fly as far as warm balls.”
You should also “check your club distances now in readiness for winter, [as] your distances are significantly less in cold winter weather.” Another thing: always “allow for soft greens,”as “you will get little if any run on green approaches” unless it is frosty. You should “adjust your strategy and expectation for winter,” “use the winter green function for accurate winter green distances,” and remember to “be smarter from the rough” in order to account for wet grass.
This may not always be possible, but Golfshake also recommends changing to metal spikes “if your club allows it.” “Ensure a solid set-up on winter tee mats [by widening] your stance to form a more solid base on slippery tee mats” and “continue to keep your stats through winter.” They also advise you “clean your ball whenever possible” and always “make the most of empty courses.” They conclude by urging players to “get out there [and] play as fast or slow as you like. Experiment with different strategies, [and most importantly], enjoy yourself.” To read more on Golfshake’s 14 Winter Golf Tips, click here.
“Winter Golf: Possible and Enjoyable”
In a fascinating article for PGA.com, Kevin Weeks of Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Illinois, discusses the multitude of possibilities available for those looking to enjoy golf over the winter–even in snow! Mr. Weeks begins his piece by emphasizing that “just because Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, toes, and every other part of your body doesn’t mean you should put your clubs away for the winter. You just have to be like a boy scout…prepared.” The first thing to consider is how to keep yourself warm. “You lose most of your body heat through your hands and head, [so] to stay warm, you need to keep them covered.” What about finding a white golf ball in white snow? Mr. Weeks recommends getting some colored balls, which will be easier to find. “Due to the elements, check your ego at the first tee, realize shooting your summer score probably isn’t in the cards, and the goal for this day will be to have fun.”
Interestingly enough, Cog Hill holds an annual tournament called The Eskimo Open, which has been played since 1966 on the first Sunday in January. He reports that this is “one of our most popular events [and] is held rain, sleet, snow, or thaw. If a hurricane ever visited Lemont in January, we’d still have golfers show. It is the one event [where] the worse the weather, the bigger the smiles. This year, we had 149 players enjoy a slightly overcast 25 degree morning of golf and the chili afterwards.” In conclusion, Mr. Weeks reiterates that “winter golf is a different game than the summer variety [because] there are no lines and slow play doesn’t exist [because there] is no one on the course behind…it’s not exactly the same game…but if you prepare correctly, it can be just as, if not more, fun and exhilarating [than your mid-spring and summer rounds].” To read more on golfing in winter, visit this link.
Bob Paley (Kananaskis Country Golf Course)
“What A Golf Professional Does Not Do in Winter”
During our research, the AtTheTee.com team discovered an entertaining and informative blog by Bob Paley, a golf professional at Kananaskis Country Golf Course in Alberta, Canada. Although the course is currently closed due to a flood, Mr. Paley’s blog post on “What a Golf Professional Does Not Do in the Winter” is still very relevant for our purposes. Mr. Paley’s first sentence is especially relevant for our purposes: “I have to tell you that in my twenty plus years in the golf business in Canada, I have been asked at least 20 times every off-season: ‘What do you do in the winter as a golf professional when the course is closed?’” As it turns out, “people are surprised to find out that we are normally just as busy in the winter time as we are in the summer time.”
Mr. Paley then provides a humorous list of “some of [his] favorite things that people have thought [he does] in the wintertime [to keep busy].” These include becoming a professional dog walker, starting a side business as a gigolo, “play[ing] golf on TV with Tiger and Phil,” collect[ing] unemployment, and watch[ing] soap operas. In the rest of his blog post, he walks readers through the wide variety of tasks he completes each off-season in preparation for spring. These include buying all of the club’s merchandise, creating purchase orders, working with various tournament groups, developing policies and procedures, working with the PGA of Alberta, hiring, training, answering emails, attending education seminars, servicing the course’s power carts, planning for the on-season, and receiving all of the purchased merchandise.
Regardless of the many tasks Mr. Paley completes during the off-season (some of which are a bit boring), he “truly believe[s] that [he] has the best job in the world because there has never ever been a day (in the winter or the summer) that is exactly the same as any other day. There are new challenges, new environments, new focuses, and new demands…every day.” Sounds like the perfect job to us!
Note: Kananaskis Country Golf Course is in the process of rebuilding and will reopen in two or three years.