April 24, 2012
Every golfer needs a spring tuneup
By Jon McCarthy, QMI Agency
You know it’s a bad start to the golf season when the computer that tracks your handicap heckles you.
More on that later, for now let’s try to keep it positive.
The Masters has come and gone and it snowed this week, which can mean just one thing — Ontario’s golf season is officially here.
So much for keeping it positive.
Despite the recent spell of frigid weather, golfers across Canada have come out of hibernation and are on the prowl for energy bars and sport drinks.
Before hitting the links, there are a number of things that golfers should do to properly prepare themselves for the start of the season.
The first thing to do after lugging your bag up from the basement is to empty all the junk out of the pockets.
Carrying your bag is a great way to stay focused on your game and get some exercise — carrying your bag when it’s full of 10 extra pounds of old sandwich wrappers and pocket change makes you wish you had taken a cart.
Next up is to take out your old putter and see if it has turned into a belly putter. If you’ve been following the weekend warrior workout regimen over the winter, you might be able to join golf’s latest fad for free. A beer gut that has grown to the point that it touches the top of your putter can be an advantage. Anchor that baby in there and start making every putt you look at without spending the dough on a fancy long putter.
Your touch around the greens is often the last part of your game to come back after a long off-season. Rolling some putts into a drinking glass on your carpet is an easy way to get a leg up on your buddies while they are busy pulling muscles on the range.
Another thing you can do to make your old clubs feel like new without spending any bucks is to wash your grips. The easiest way to do this is to mix some warm water and mild soap in a bucket and use a washcloth to scrub down your grips. When finished, rinse them with water and dry them off. If you haven’t done this in a while — or ever — you will feel the difference.
One important thing to keep in mind is that all of the above tips should be done in the middle of your living room. This way, once you are finished your wife or girlfriend will be so thrilled to have you and your junk out of the house she won’t mind that you are skipping out for five hours to go golfing.
On Saturday, I arrived at the golf course for my first round of the season. It was seven degrees and the wind was gusting — perfect weather to work out the kinks after five months off.
I understand that most recreational golfers aren’t very interested in stretching. After all, if you arrive at the course early enough to stretch you probably have time to grab a quick drink.
Even if you arrive huffing and puffing on the first tee there is one stretch that takes less than a minute and will have your lower back thanking you the next day.
Stand on your left leg and lift your right leg up and across so your right ankle rests on your left knee. Hold a club in your right hand for balance and slowly sit into the stretch until you feel a stretch in your hip and glutes (See cartoon).
Hold the stretch for 20 seconds or so and then switch legs. Do it twice with each leg before teeing your ball up and pounding one down the middle. Repeat this stretch after your round.
Our last tip for the new season is to always keep your wedges clean. Keeping the grooves of all your irons free of sand and dirt after each shot is fine for some but if most weekend warriors enjoyed cleaning, they would have stayed home.
The grooves in your wedges shouldn’t be neglected though. The spin they create is vital to these scoring irons and hitting shot after shot with sand on the face is the quickest way to wear them down. Think sandpaper without the paper.
Cleaned, stretched and ready to go I hit my first drive of the season at Devil’s Pulpit in Caledon… into the fairway bunker.
I double-bogeyed the first five holes and finished the round in 97 strokes with a runny nose.
How’s that for a nine handicap?
Despite the painful afternoon on the course, the beverages at the 19th hole tasted as good as ever.
My sour mood had changed. The golf season was back and I had no doubt my game would also return soon.
Before heading home I stopped by the clubhouse computer to enter my score for handicap purposes. I typed in 97 and a message popped up on the screen.
“Your score is exceptionally high. Hit OK to continue.”
Wow. Everybody’s a critic.