Fall is over and winter is on the way (if the snow hasn't already fallen where you are). But, that doesn’t mean it’s time to put away your golf clubs for the season, because the indoor golf season is upon us. Indoor golf simulators grow in number and functionality all the time, and they are a great way to continue the last golf season and stay fresh for next year.
But, not all indoor golf simulators are the same — some track your shot, others give feedback on your swing in informative readouts, and they all get you swinging a golf club. We spoke with Nick Sage, first assistant golf professional at North Oaks Golf Club, to find out the best way to use an indoor golf simulator this winter, and Nick had plenty of sage advice.
Know What You're Looking For in a Golf Simulator
Many golf simulators use state-of-the-art shot-tracking equipment designed to give a golfer feedback on their shot. They are great any time of the year (and can be a lot of fun with friends), but there is plenty of decent “range work” to be derived from them. You can simply keep your swing in shape or work on your irons — and you can even hit full drivers and get that club going straight for the coming season.
“It really depends on what the individual would want,” Sage says. “The key is to keep swinging and practicing during the winter in order to avoid slow starts in the spring. The goal of an indoor simulator is to keep your swing sharp in order to have a fast start in the spring and not struggle right out of the gate.”
In Minnesota, that “gate opening” for golf may be a ways off, so in the meantime, there is plenty to do at a golf simulator.
Pick a Few Weaknesses and Work to Perfect Them
“My goals would be to pick a few things that you struggled with over the golf season and perfect them over the winter,” Sage says. “For example, if you struggled with long irons or short delicate wedge shots, that should be your key focus during the offseason.”
Book Lessons With a Pro
Do you need a golf professional on hand to work with you?
“If you're at a simulator with your buddies just messing around, I do not think there is a need for a pro,” Sage says with a smile. “However, if you are serious about making improvements to your game over the winter, having a lesson plan with a professional is a great idea.”
Visit the Simulator At Least Once or Twice a Week
How about the time spent at the simulator — do we need to grind away every day to get the best benefit?
“It depends on how serious the golfer is about improving their game over the winter months,” Sage says. “I would encourage at least once or twice a week to keep things sharp and dialed in.”
Ultimately, golf simulators are a fun and efficient way to keep your clubs from collecting dust and your swing from becoming a rusty gate. You can find one at North Oaks or other locations throughout the Twin Cities. But, the idea is to take a little time off at the end of the season to refresh your mind, perhaps develop a winter golf program, or identify aspects of your game to work and then start getting back into the “swing of things.”
“Hitting balls in the winter is a fabulous idea,” Sage says. “It is tough not to touch a club for 4-6 months and come out the first day the course opens and expect to be swinging well. Keeping your touch with your wedges — and putting is also very important.”