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Via GCA lead coach Trent Wearner: The weather outside is frightful, and the golf on TV is delightful, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your golf game on ice this winter. There are many things you can do indoors to keep your swing and putting stroke sharp, so that you don’t have to de-ice your game come spring. So on the next commercial or halftime break, put aside the remote and the bag of Doritos, get up off the couch and try a few of the following games and exercises. You’ll be thankful come March and April.
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Don’t throw out that Christmas ribbon just yet! Tie some ribbon around the end of your driver and make some full swings trying to get the ribbon to flutter down by the imaginary ball. You’ll create more clubhead speed and distance if you can make the ribbon flutter fast at the bottom, and not at the start of the downswing.
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I play this putting game often with my two boys. Set up two teams of Army Men (chess pieces will also do) about 10 to 15 feet apart on opposite ends of a room, and see who can knock down all of the plastic figures first. Not only is this a lot of fun, but it makes the hole seem A LOT bigger when you finally get back out on the course.
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Hold a club and an alignment rod together so that when you take your address, the rod extends past your rib cage toward your left armpit. The lie angle of the club and alignment rod represent your swing plane. (Picture Ben Hogan’s famous image of a pane of glass running from the ball through his shoulders.)
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Swing to the top. The goal is to get the alignment rod and the club to change ends, so that the alignment stick is pointing at the ball at the top of the backswing. (At impact, they would change ends again.) There’s no better way to generate more clubhead speed than to keep the club on-plane, where it will feel lightest in your hands.
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Find a relatively hard surface (i.e., a large piece of plywood) and chip some plastic balls trying to get the clubface to contact the ball at the exact same time the club’s sole thumps the ground. If you can consistently make simultaneous contact between the ball and the ground, you’ll hit the ball solid every time and have excellent distance control.
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Add a little more difficulty and fun to this exercise by placing a waste basket 5 or 10 feet away and chipping balls into the basket. The bucket not only forces you to make simultaneous ball-ground contact, as that’s how you create spin, but it trains you to hit your landing spots more consistently, which is critical to chipping the ball close.
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Make several slow-motion swings on a pair of inflatable balance discs. The unstable environment helps heighten your senses for balance (i.e., proprioception), promoting the use of your core muscles to keep you stable and in good posture. After spending a few minutes on the discs you’ll feel as if you’re glued to the ground, a key to make more solid contact on the course.
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Break out an aluminum yardstick and set it down on the ground. Place a ball several inches from the end of the stick and align your feet, hips, forearms and shoulders parallel to the stick. Your eyes should be directly over the ball or the inside edge of the stick, and the putterface should be dead square, or perpendicular, to the stick.
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Hit several putts, rolling the ball straight down the yardstick and over the end of the ruler. If the putterface is open or closed the ball will leave the yardstick. This exercise teaches you how to hit your putts with a square face and start the ball on line. And if you can consistently roll the ball straight for 3 feet, you’re going to make a lot more putts.
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Trent Wearner, PGA, is owner of the Trent Wearner Golf Academy at Meridian Golf Club in Englewood, CO. For more information about Trent, the No. 1 teacher in Colorado as ranked by his peers in Golf Digest, and to book a lesson, please <a href="http://golfchannelacademy.com/trent-wearner/" target="_blank">click here</a>.
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