It might be possible to ignore the fact that our phones insist that it’s October. It might be possible to ignore that we’re seven weeks into the NFL season (and my Chiefs are already looking toward the draft). It might even be possible to ignore that the leaves here in Kansas City have already started to cover our fairways. But it was impossible to ignore what happened when I left my house last Friday for a morning round: It was “holy crap, I need pants, gloves, a jacket and maybe some long johns” cold.
Yep, winter is coming here in the Midwest, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
The notion of winter golf in the Heartland is a tricky one. Having spent a bunch of time in the Twin Cities, outdoor winter golf doesn’t exist—so much so that all the munis turn into cross-country ski courses in December. If you’re going to practice from October through March, you head to a dome and work on your swing indoors. Conversely, when you head just a few hours south (my wife is from Oklahoma City, so I’ve played quite a few rounds around Thanksgiving and Christmas), it seems that you can practice and play outdoors all year-round. Unfortunately for me, Kansas City is in more of a “tweener” climate—we don’t have the indoor facilities like our Northern neighbors, but we don’t have the temperate weather to guarantee 12 months of outdoor play.
So what do you do to itch the golf bug over the winter? Normally, now is about the time I’d shut it down for the year, only dusting off my clubs for a vacation or an unseasonably nice day. Not this year, though—I’m heading into the winter mid-way through my first significant swing change in decades and shutting it down now would be devastating to my game come spring. But before I get ahead of myself, let me give you a bit of backstory:
I’m not a great golfer. In fact, if you ask me, at 37 I’m no longer even a good golfer (my current index is a frustrating 7.8). I haven’t been a good since I’ve had children, and I’m not certain that I’ve ever been great. The last time I was close was the summer after my senior year in high school — right before my college golf plans were interrupted by a reconstructive shoulder surgery brought on by a bizarre comedy/tragedy that involved a trampoline, a snowboard and (at least) a 12 pack of Milwaukee’s Best Light.
By the time I was cleared to swing a golf club again I was fully engrossed in all of the wonderful things a state school could offer a virile 19-year-old moron—none of which seemed to be located near a driving range. In fact, I fell so far away from the game that when I moved to Chicago after graduation, I didn’t even bring clubs. Fast-forward 15 years, a wife, three children, a couple mortgages and a small business later and here we are, standing on the brink of my first significant golf winter in 20 years.
Here’s my plan on how I’m going to get through it (and hopefully come out on the other side a better golfer):
- Hit 3000 to 5000 balls over the winter
- Hit at least 5000 putts
- Road test training aids, separating the gimmicks from the one’s that actually help.
- Get stronger and more flexible through golf-based exercise.
As I’m committed to doing this, I’m going to drag you WRXers with me—sharing what I learn along the way in a series of columns. But for now, I’m headed to the range. It might be the last time I see 70 degrees until April.
Next week’s column: Setting up an indoor practice facility.