Why is winter the best time for golfers to improve?
(NC) Enrolling in a winter golf instruction program is a little like hiring a personal trainer—there's a sense of enforced discipline. And no matter whether lessons are taken up as a personal decision or kindly gifted by another, winter is the perfect time to do it.
“Given the choice to practice or play in the summertime, players will almost always choose to play,” explains Andre Cuerrier, the director of academies and services for Golf Town, known as Canada's largest golf retailer.
This means there's little opportunity for improvement. And what driving range activity there is during the summer months typically involves a repeated banging away with your driver or simply reaching for your favourite clubs again and again, says Cuerrier. Winter golf lessons, however, help wean a golfer off of bad practice habits, not to mention their obsession with the bottom line—score—and focus on something more practical, like upgrading their consistency and control with every club in their bag.
“Your score is not always reflective of how well you play, and it can be emotionally distracting,” notes Cuerrier, whose winter golf program is administered by 48 Class-A PGA of Canada professionals at Golf Town facilities coast to coast.
Freed from the bonds of a scorecard, Cuerrier's team employs the high-tech V1 video analysis software. The process begins with an extensive one-hour full-bag assessment that uses both static and dynamic fitting techniques to determine your effectiveness with every club, from spin rate and trajectory to accuracy and distance. If your grips are too small, the shaft too strong or the lie angle off a degree, the V1 and your instructor will advise how to adjust each weapon in your bag to maximize its efficiency. The computer also suggests the ideal new model on the market to match your personal swing, should you elect to go that route.
“The full-bag assessment, since it involves everything from the full swing with your driver to chipping and putting, helps identify weaknesses that most players prefer not to address during the golf season,” says Cuerrier.
The winter program is offered in three tiers, gauged toward the amount of time and money players are able to commit. Cuerrier gives the details: The Bronze tier ($199) offers seven private lessons after the initial assessment. The Silver tier ($249) also adds a concluding full-bag assessment to help players harness their improved swing technique. The Gold tier ($349.99) includes 10 private lessons, the two bookending club evaluations, as well as a nine-hole playing lesson on one of the simulators. “The playing lesson provides a great opportunity to learn course management—perhaps why you would use a seven-iron to chip with instead of a wedge in a certain situation,” notes Cuerrier. “So many strokes are lost simply to poor decision making.”
The evolution of Golf Town's winter instruction program is reflected in its consistently increasing popularity among Canadian consumers. “Last year was a record year for us,” says Cuerrier. “Part of the process has involved explaining to people that we offer these services and they don't have to stop playing golf just because it's wintertime. If you join a gym, you don't take half the year off.
“We've also tried to make it more practical and affordable for everyone – and there's more interaction with the teacher than ever before,” he explained. “Your lesson video and statistics are emailed to you afterward, and there's more communication back and forth. We'll see players emailing their coaches from their winter golf vacations, asking why they were hitting it left today. It's more time consuming, but we're building better relationships..”
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