What can you do in off season to become a better golfer? First thing is get a lobotomy. The biggest issue with the vast majority of golfers is they interfere with their ability to do what they already know how to do. “The intended effect of a lobotomy is reduced tension or agitation” according to a posting on the internet. “and many early patients did exhibit those changes.” Most golfers are too tense and get very agitated. Problem solved. Some side effects however, “such as apathy, passivity, lack of initiative, poor ability to concentrate, and a generally decreased depth and intensity of their emotional response to life” may be drawbacks.

Not sure that isn’t how most of us are living our lives anyhow, so doubt we notice much of a change. I’m sure Doug Ford will have “Lobotomies are Us” clinics up and running at a location near you very soon. If you are not that committed to improving, here are a few less drastic measures. (If someone comes up with a reversible lobotomy, they will never go hungry setting up shop at the nearest golf course.)

Work on your short game! You need to be rather comfortable financially to purchase a golf simulator and work on your swing all winter but setting up a little putting and chipping area is simple. You can find hundreds of suggestions online costing very little that don’t need much space. Obviously most are going to be limited to how far they can putt, and there won’t be feedback on the distance of your chips, but you can ingrain proper technique and then work on precision when you get back outside. Putting and chipping is a huge percentage of your score and so many of you are so bad it drives you nuts (particularly chipping). This should not be happening. It is so simple physically that anyone can get good at it. Not everyone has the physical make-up to hit the ball a long way. Genetics, shape, size, injury, all can get in the way of your ability to do that. Everyone who has at least one arm can get really good at the short game.

Everyone who has at least one arm can get really good at the short game.

Firstly get it out of your head that you need to “perfect” your technique. Within a wide range of parameters there are many ways to putt well. Generally you have to stand comfortably and be able to swing your shoulders back and forth like a pendulum. A student remarked to me recently as I demonstrated a putting stroke that I must have very strong hands to keep so quiet during the stroke. Au contraire, I replied. First of all, if you want to know what my hands look like just take a peek at some of the skeletons that decorated neighborhood homes this festive Halloween season. You do not need particularly strong hands, you just need to swing in rhythm. If you rock your shoulders smoothly back and through, it is quite easy to keep your hands quiet. If you are jerking them back and forth, they will be trying to flip and flop.

By the way, you want quiet hands to keep the motion as simple as possible. The fewer moving parts the easier it is to adjust for speed. Just use the length of your stroke. Simpler to lengthen or shorten your stroke than to also try to decide how much wrist pop to add to the equation. This is where the indoor practice comes in. The more time you spend hitting putts of various lengths the more intuitive it becomes and the less thinking necessary, which is like having that lobotomy without the side effects.

For chipping you can use the same setup, but just tilt toward your intended target. Stand up for a putt and then lean toward the target until your head and hands are over the foot nearest the hole. Then you just use the same technique as putting. A seven or eight iron to keep the ball low. Pitching wedge to hit it medium high, and sand wedge or lob wedge for maximum loft. There are many ways to learn how to chip and then you can add in pitching and all kinds of other factors. If, however, you are one of the many who have absolute fear and loathing for this part of the game, this is a very simple way to gain confidence and stop being afraid of getting closer to the hole. Remember, it is never your job to get underneath a golf ball, or help, or scoop it in the air. It is your job to make solid contact and let the club do its job. The leaning is what facilitates the solid contact. You likely won’t have space to work on distance control but if you learn to hit solid chips consistently you can focus on distance when you head outside. Enjoy, good people. Hope you got off your arses and voted.

John Piccolo is a golf instructor and runs Piccolo’s Custom Golf Shop at Eagle Valley Golf Club in Niagara Falls. You may email him at [email protected]