The Nights are Drawing In
That time of the year has arrived when evening golf on the course after work becomes a distant memory. The sun sets hours earlier, the temperature plummets and the weather becomes even more unpredictable in general when the rain suddenly turns to hail and then snow! The autumn/winter months are full of festive cheer with people gearing up to Christmas and spending time with their loved ones but it is also that cold, dark time of year where energy levels tend to dip and then the January blues hit.
I often use golf to unwind after work so the alternative options for evening golf for me become finding a floodlit range (or doing short game practice using the car headlights - don't judge!), using a golf simulator, drills at home or seeking the sun abroad. I chose the final option last year and had my trip to Dubai to look forward to but have no such trip planned this year!
I know many fair weather golfers and this time of year is one in which they will pack away their clubs and not touch them again until spring next year. If you've been following me since the beginning on here or on Instagram, you will have seen that I have played golf in all kinds of weather before - for me there is no "golf season." However, I really don't like playing when it is pouring with rain in winter because you get wet and cold which just makes the game unenjoyable for me. Other than that, I don't mind playing at this time of year. When I do have the chance to get out to the course they tend to be quieter so I can focus a bit more on trying some new things.
There is no doubt that there are days when I wake up and as it is so cold that I do not want to go to the effort to even just get ready for golf. Once I'm out, the cold weather doesn't bother me too much because you can wrap up. However, finding the balance of the right number of layers to make sure you don't get too hot or too cold but can still swing a club is difficult. I love wearing my winter gloves and I become so used to them in the winter that I don't normally like taking them off when spring comes around because I find I grip the club a lot more gently so hit better. I've yet to master the right number of layers to wear but my bag is full of lots of them at the moment. I think one of the key things you should do at this time of year is to make sure you have the right gear so you should invest in good clothing to stay warm and comfortable.
I had a very productive lesson with my coach last week who I hadn't seen for months. We focussed on a couple of things in the lesson and discussed how winter is a good time to start drilling in any swing adjustments because I am forced to practise them on the range as I can't get out on the course as much. For me, having a bit more strength after my injury means that I do want to play a bit more too. I have 3 games in the diary before the end of the year so that gives me golf to look forward to and also motivates me to practise.
In general, finding the motivation to play in these conditions can be difficult. My best advice is really just not to force yourself to play if you don't feel in the mood to. Play when you want to play and don't be influenced by others being out on the course and thinking that you should be too. This time of year is a good time to also give yourself a bit of a break. If you do want to play, I sometimes call the driving range "my safe space" because I can focus on a few swing changes, practise new things off the course and start to understand my swing a little better. Many people use the winter to work on their short game too and you can even do this at home with some putting drills in your living room. If you have a coach I'd definitely recommend seeing them soon and deciding what you can work on over the next few months.