How to hit the ground running after a lay off

Golf is one of those sports that once you stop playing, even for just a little bit, it’s so easy to get out of the groove. Returning to the course after a layoff can be downright depressing as the layers of rust flake off with each swing. Every year I must take a 4-5 month hiatus while the snow falls and the ground is frozen during the winter months. Eventually I made an agreement with myself that I would never keep score during the first 2-3 weeks of the new season. Who feels like carding a score that’s 15 strokes worse than normal? Not I.

However, in addition to taking it easy and not expecting too much I could have done more to be ready. After all, it’s not like I didn’t know that the golf season would be coming! Also there are more things than just bad weather that get in the way of playing golf. Remember that game called life? Yea, that gets in the way too. I have a friend with chronic back trouble which means she can barely walk sometimes much less play golf. I intended to have a nice healthy pregnancy which including walking 9 holes at least 3 times per week but mandatory bed rest waylaid that and I was relegated to playing video games or watching TV for 6 months. There are work deadlines, family priorities, you name it. Basically there are often extended periods of time when you simply can’t play at all. Without being obsessive there are ways to not lose ground. Why take one step back before taking two steps forward if you can always move forward?

  • Visualize your swing – remember “those” shots? Yes, the ones that keep you coming back and those are the ones you should keep in your mental arsenal to remind yourself of how good you are.
  • Watch golf on TV – Phil almost shot a 59 a few weeks ago and Tiger is back at  #1. The LPGA has its first major coming soon. Watch golf on TV when you can to whet your appetite.
  • Practice during the off time – This one is a toughy. We could all practice more but when you’re a busy mom it’s often hard of find the time to get all the laundry folded much less knock the ball around a bit in the house or yard. However, it will pay major dividends if you can push through and make it happen regularly; even during the season.
  • Visualize/Imagine how you would play certain holes – Visualization is huge in golf. See yourself hitting the shots you want to hit and you’re much more likely to make it a reality its time.
  • Relax when you get out there – Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when you finally get to play. Unless you’ve spent time in warmer climates or did some serious practicing during the winter you’re simply not going to play as well in April of the new season as you did in August of last season. Just have fun with it and don’t expect too much.

Even if you didn’t hit a single ball all winter it’s not too late to set yourself up to have a successful golf season. Start by picking a reasonable strategy and adhering to the process rather than worshipping the end score. In fact, don’t even keep score during your first few sessions back. Spend extra time in the beginning at the local driving range. Relish the opportunity. If you are one of the few people on earth lucky enough to have the time, money, life circumstances, and health to devote the time to golf you are lucky indeed. Rather than grumbling that things aren’t perfect on the golf course be glad you have the opportunity and be happy instead♣