The Final Round of the Season

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Its early October in Minnesota. The Vikings are well into the season and the sky is becoming the shade of rotten milk. The chill is in the air and the ponds at the golf course are about to be better used as hockey rinks.
 
You find similar scenes all over northern courses where daylight savings time means the end of golf season.
 
Or does it?
 
There are three ways to approach the end of golf season:
 
1) Move to Florida or Southern California where golf season never ends. Hawaii is never a bad option either.
 
2) Make it a year-round game no matter how cold it gets.
 
3) When you know you are teeing it up for the last time for several months, just have fun and not try to knock the handicap down another stroke. As a matter of fact, most clubs in northern climates dont even register scores after Labor Day because of weather conditions.
 
Kris Gooding is a teaching professional at the Country Club of Maryland, which stays open all year, even though it can get quite chilly during the winter months. He said a lot of clubs work with the golfers to ensure that members arent overwhelmed at the thought of getting in that final under-par round before the course becomes unplayable.
We see a lot of the members with a certain amount of anxiety as daylight savings time rolls around, but we try to help. We shorten the course and the scores get better. And we dont count scores against the handicap, so it relieves a lot of tension.
 
In Minnesota, Chuck Klecatsky is a PGA golf professional at the Craguns Legacy Courses about two hours north of Minneapolis, one of the top-rated resorts in the nation. He said that golfers might want to go low at the end of the playing season, but it should be expected in the north.
 
In Minnesota, the scores go up at the end because the weather gets worse, Klecatsky said. We try to make it easy, but they shouldnt get anxious. Just concentrate on the year, but more importantly, think about ways to improve during the winter even if it is just indoors or simulators. The golf season never has to end.
 
For some, the golf season never does end. Its easy to play year-round in Florida. But Matt Mitchell, a PGA teaching professional at The Downs Golf practice facility, a state of the art practice site in the Tampa Bay area, believes that the golf season never has to end.
 
To play year-round, even in the north, you need a year-round stretching program, so golf never has to end even if you are surrounded by snow, Mitchell said. Everyone I teach says they want to hit the ball like Tiger Woods. I look at them straight in the eye and say, You cant. Its all about your upper body and making a good turnthings to think about during the winter months. Think flexibility and turn.
The Tampa area is filled with snowbirds from up north who flitter between the cold climates and Florida after daylight savings time hits. Mitchell said a lot of golfers come to him with concerns about playing that last round before going north where golf is unplayable. But he contends that there is nothing to worry about; golfers could still play in the basement not matter how bad the blizzard.
 
Mitchell recommends an easy practice lesson that only takes a quick trip to the Home Depot. All you need is a plastic pipe to place behind the forearms and back, and practice stretching by turning the hips for about 15 minutes a day. Repeat the maneuver while sitting.
 

You can do the whole thing in 15 minutes a day, Mitchell said. It involves your back and hips, the two most important aspects to the golf swing, and you can do it anywhere.
 
He also advocates buying a cheap driver, or even a shaft, and adding surgical tubing to the shaft to practice swinging on the correct plane as fast as possible, though controlled. A whistling noise indicates a proper and effective swing.
 
If you live in a northern climate such as Minnesota, you dont want to go back to where you were six months ago once the courses are unplayable, Mitchell said. It takes 15 minutes a day.
 
Gooding concurs with the idea of improving your golf game even if you live in an area where the season is limited.
 
I joined a gym last year and worked on endurance and ecliptics, Gooding said. I worked on my back, core, legs and shoulders. I wasnt going for muscle, but it improved my game so much during the winter. I was hitting it farther once we got back out on a regular basis.
 
Klecatsky believes that the most obvious choice for indoor practice is to work on putting. Buying a simple putting strip can make a difference. As any golfer knows, if you hit the greens in regulation, putting is half the game. And although golf simulators are prominent throughout most of the northern states, putting strips are available everywhere. If its true that you drive for show and putt for dough, it isnt a bad idea to invest a few bucks in a putting strip.
 
As for the simulators, Klecatsky notes that newer technology has dramatically improved the realism they now provide, compared to those of a decade ago.
 
The last shot of the year doesnt have to be the last shot of the year. If you live in Minnesota or Alaska, the golf season never has to end. There are plenty of ways to keep the season alive and, hey, you dont have to worry about long lines at the tee boxes, and you are usually a lot closer to the 19th hole than when you are out on the course.
 

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