Musings on real winter, and what I learned about golf in the tundra

February 18, 2015

No reasonable golfer would ever choose to live in an area that for half the year is ungolfable.  After spending the majority of one winter in Detroit, I am only further entrenched this view, but with maybe one small caveat.  Below is photographic evidence of this craziness in real life.

IMG_5109

If it wasn’t obnoxious, I’d repost the same image again just for emphasis.

Rather than move to a place with real sunshine and grass, someone decided this was a better idea.  The above image comes from the heated tees at a golf shop in Bloomfield Hills, MI.  This Sunday was the warmest day of the winter thus far, registering a balmy 37 F on the comically large thermometer next to the range.  I wasn’t the only hacker who decided to take advantage of the “sunshine.”  Indeed, I waited for patiently for 35 minutes to get one of 40 or so mats that were all teeming with eager beavers shanking away.  It was one of the few times I can say I was actually happy waiting in line because it was the first time I’d even heard a golf ball being hit in over a month.  All of this being said, the conditions on the heated tees were actually very nice.  Despite the tundra in front of me, It got so warm under the heaters that I had to take off my jacket and sweater!  I was never worried about my hands being cold, but the range balls were a different story.

Range balls have their own inherent issues – limited ball flight, low compression, but in these conditions the balls and air are so cold that distances and, indeed, ball flight become all but irrelevant.  Sure, the direction still tells you something about your swing path, but spin (peak height), compression (ballspeed), and general body temperature all become somewhat fluid and not meaningfully measurable in these conditions.  There was a kind of serene obliviousness to hitting balls this way.  Who cares where it lands?  I’m not going to see it anyway.  The targets are basically meaningless.  Honestly, I’m more concerned with just making sure the balls I’m hitting are not so frozen that they’re going to crack the hosels on my SLDR irons.

100 balls in, I find the bottom of my swing.  I’ll blame that on the conditions too.  But after the next 100, I feel as though I’ve had one of the best range sessions I’ve had in the last 6 months.  Why, you ask?

The conditions forced me to detach from my (totally unreasonable) expectations of my golf game.  Once I realized that I wasn’t going to see the ball land, that my 7 iron wasn’t going to go 165 yards, that my driver wasn’t going to rise beautifully to 2.5x the height of the net at the back of the range, and that generally any expectations I have of those things happening with any regularity were probably just as ill conceived, it became much easier to focus on the one thing that I actually could control and measure – contact.  Focusing purely on the quality of the contact I was producing for 100 balls did wonders for my confidence and allowed me to test various setup positions and tweaks to see how I could adjust this one facet of my game.

Focusing on a single measurable and focusing on improving that one element of my game was far more satisfying and likely helpful to my game than worrying about a host of interrelated issues and results.  The snow helped me realize a truth about practice I hear all the time, but rarely act upon in my own game: focus on one measurable at a time.  I hope the lesson sticks, but who ever heard of digging their game out of the snow?

-LG

Bonus:

If you’re a true PF-er, you might understand why this photo makes JK and myself crack up every time we see it:

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6 Responses to “Musings on real winter, and what I learned about golf in the tundra”

  1. Jason Says:

    Is this your first winter in Michigan? It is tough! Two winters ago, I was able to get out almost every month. However, the last two have not been the case. Enjoy! Keep grinding!

    • JK Says:

      LG has lived in the South or California his whole life. He knows nothing of real winter (of course, I only lived in MA for one winter and decided i couldn’t stand it, so I can’t really talk).

  2. JK Says:

    “But after the next 100, I feel as though I’ve had one of the best range sessions I’ve had in the last 6 months. Why, you ask?”

    Because it’s been so cold where you live that you haven’t had another range session in the last 6 months?

    • LG Says:

      JK, it’s called a rhetorical question.

      Rhetorical question: (n.) – inquiry that does NOT require the obvious sarcastic answer from JK.

  3. Jason Says:

    I have been hitting indoors. TC Golf has a large net with 8 bays plus a simulator that I hit in. You can buy buckets and swing away. You can’t see flight, so contact is all you can worry about as well. I like Carl’s because they had the heated tees. King Par in Flint also has heated tees year round.

    I also swing an orange whip in the garage or basement. Ceiling is a bit low, so I feel like I am flattening my swing too much though inside.


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