Make The Most of Your Winter Break

For a lot of you, this is the time of year to watch the golf season start on television and dream about playing again sometime this spring. It’s just too cold. That said, there are still couple things you can do this winter to guarantee a much better start in 2008.

First thing: Make a commitment to get in better golf shape over the next few months. You’ll be amazed how much better your first game will feel with new found flexibility and posture.

Check out one of my favorite Websites —

Mark Verstagen (founder of Core Performance) is one of the best there is in the fitness world and his Website is very easy to navigate. Simply, go to the “Fitness” menu item on the top left. From there, click on the “Exercises of the Day” on the drop down menu. There you will find a plethora of simple exercise videos with great explanations on “why” and “how.” Look for the exercises that are specific to golf and learn how to do them properly. I promise, they will really help. You know, so many times I watch people trying to make a move in their swing that their bodies will just not allow. They get frustrated and think it’s impossible. But really it’s just a physical limitation that causes their grief. A proper workout will fix this problem. Imagine taking all the great information you’re learning from Andy and Golf Swing Secrets Revealed and applying it with an “in shape” body. Your improvement would certainly come much quicker.

Another great Website for fitness is

This program is the brainchild of Titleist and was founded by Dr. Greg Rose and PGA Professional Dave Phillips. I’ve met and worked with these guys on a couple occasions and it doesn’t get much better. They really know their stuff. Almost all the information on their site is free. You just have to register with an email and can even get a customized program over the Internet.

So, make a commitment to strengthen your core this off season. Also, work on other often neglected body parts, such as ankles, calves, hip flexors and hamstrings — all vital to consistent ball striking. You will find exercises for all these areas at the above Websites.

**Remember, before you start any exercise program, first make sure you are physically capable. Contact your physician if necessary.

Second thing: Make a commitment to improve your mental game in 2008. We’ve all heard the saying that golf is 90% mental — and although I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that statement — it is very important. When I say I disagree — people usually ask why. I believe golf becomes almost a purely mental pursuit the better your physical skills become — but a great mental game doesn’t help too many people who can’t get the ball airborne. I could put Jack Nicklaus’ head on somebody who hits a 100 yard slice and shoots 120 and they wouldn’t magically become a scratch golfer. The physical skills have to improve as well. That said, lets make sure your mental skills are equal to your physical skills.

Here are a couple great mental exercises I use with my students to get their mind “quiet” and in the moment.

First one — Learn to breath deeply and quiet your mind.

Here’s how it works: Take a very deep inhale through your nose. Try to make the inhale last for 5 seconds. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth for 10 seconds. Total time for one breath should be 15 seconds. People usually have a hard time with this at first for two reasons. One, they are out of shape and don’t have that much oxygen available in one breath. Cardio exercises will help with this. And two, they aren’t used to breathing so deeply. They have been “shallow” breathing through their mouth for a long time and just need time to retrain their technique.

So, if each breath takes 15 seconds — then you should average 4 breaths per minute. This would be ideal. At first, just practice the breath. Concentrate on the act of breathing and improving your lung capacity. Do this for 10 minutes a day for the next week. You will find yourself breathing better and getting more relaxed each session. Then, after one week — add 10 more minutes a day. Spend the first 10 just breathing and relaxing. Then spend the next 10 minutes — with the same breathing pattern — visualizing yourself playing golf. Start on the first hole of your club or the course you’ll play once spring arrives. See yourself hitting a great drive. Then a great second shot. See yourself making putts and shooting great scores. Play this same course everyday in your second 10 minutes. Get to the point where it is automatic in your head and you score 18 under par. Hit nothing but perfect golf shots over and over again. But make sure you keep a consistent breathing pattern during the visualization stage.

Second one — Learn how to quiet your heartbeat and mind very quickly to focus.

Here’s how it works: When we get nervous, our heart rate goes through the roof. The best players can calm their heart rate to a normal tempo even during the most stressful of situations. I want you to be able to do this as well. Here’s how you’ll practice. While at the gym or exercising, I want you to wear a heart rate monitor. After sufficiently warming up, exercise in such a way that spikes your heart rate very high at your maximum heart rate. (Warning: Again, make sure you can physically do this before starting an exercise program). Here’s how you find yours. Subtract your age from 220 and take 70% of that number. This would be your high number.

Once you get to that high zone, practice getting your heart rate low in a hurry. Here’s how you do that. Just repeat the breathing exercise in step one. Deep breaths through the nose and out the mouth. Shoot for (4) breaths a minute. Watch the heart rate monitor. You’ll see how quickly your heart rate drops. It is the quickest way to calm yourself down. This is exactly what you’ll do on the first tee or when you encounter a nervous situation. Breath!

If you spend the winter learning how to breath and visualize, your mental game will improve tremendously.

I promise you this — if you enter your 2008 season with a better body and stronger mind — you WILL play better.

Good Luck!

8 Responses to “Make The Most of Your Winter Break”

  1. Hi Andy,

    A friend of mine alerted me to your blog, and I am thrilled to have found it. This post in particular makes a lot of sense to me. So many people who play the game of golf, seek improvement via the latest new club or swing trainer. They fail to realize that their are limits to how far they can hit the ball and how well they can hit the ball. Those limits being their physical conditioning and their mental conditioning – how well they see of themselves playing the game.

    Your mental tips remind me of Maxwell Maltz’s classic book “Pyscho-Cybernetics”, which is a fantastic read for anyone who wants to realize the power of their mind.

    I am going to add your blog to my blogroll – under golf blogs – I hope that you will stop by for a look.

    Chris Melton

  2. Peter Killick says:

    Hi Andy

    Have been having some minor problems in the breathing department and
    your tips have been very helpful. Yet to see how my golf benefits..

    Many thanks and best wishes for 2008

  3. Pat Whelton says:

    Thanks Andy,

    Will take all your advice on board, and look foward to trying it on the course.

    Roll on the spring.

  4. Roger Garrett says:

    In New Zealand where i live we play all year round. In fact the winter is our competition time. I have been in golf admin for a large part of my 60+ years of playing THE game, and have tried and tried to change this pattern without avail. Certainly any of our professional tournaments run here are in the summer months, and the pros would not dream of struggling round our courses, particularly those in the South Island in winter, even though we club golfers have to. The answers I have been given have mainly hinged around the desire of the New Zealand Golf Council to “Keep in synchronisation” with the European summer. This has never been altered. Certainly as I have aged it has become much more pleasurable to play in the Spring, Summer and Autumn months, but I still enjoy my winter golf, though if the weather is too bad I give it a miss. Other countries such as South Africa, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, and the host of tropical lands enjoy all year round golf, and many people at our club play our summer and move back to the Northern Hemisphere (Canada, Ireland, the US, England) for your summer. Wish I could do the same. Sometimes I manage a trip to the Gold Coast in Queensland, very balmy in the winter, and beautiful for golf, as is Perth, in Western Aus. in the winter.

  5. Barry Cain says:

    Andy very informative and helpful even for someone with a few minor lung problems.

    I feel better able to cope under stress, and my game has improved.

    Many thanks

    Barry Cain

  6. Rick Cutting says:

    Hi Andy,

    Having just retired I have found the information I have been getting a great help. I’m new to the game (18 months) and wish I had taken it up years ago. Never had a very active career and find that golf is just what I needed. The tips given in this email for keeping fit in the winter months will be a great asset.

    Many thanks,


    PS Anyone needing a not very good playing partner in Cambridge, UK?

  7. Gary Dykes says:

    Thanks for the reminder on breathing Andy. I have practiced it for years to improve my breathing as an asthma sufferer and still use it before a round. Us “oldsters” sure do need to slow ourselves down and get a positive outlook on our upcoming round of golf.

    Thanks for your interest in improving all aspects of our golf performance

  8. Darryl Brook says:

    Great read Andy you are right on the money with the breathing, I have been doing that type of breathing and control for almost 30 years and works great, not just for the issues as stated but helps with the whole body health and calmness.

    Cheers for 2008

    The next eagle is just around the corner.

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