My Dog Days of Winter


Stu and I taking advantage of no one on the practice area (Nov 2014)

My Dog Days of Winter

While it has been a tame winter in southern Ontario, unlike the Maritimes or parts of the prairies, golf has not been possible for me and like most Canadian golfers we are forced to wait until driving ranges open and shortly after, courses. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many options to actively engage golfers, maintaining both interests and skills so that come spring we’re ready to enjoy some fun and some success. Here is an overview of my ‘off season’ and my efforts to minimize its impact:

1. Pins are pulled.
I may be one of the last people to play golf in Ontario. Facts are I’ll play until they tell me I can’t. This alone compresses my off-season. I played this year on Christmas Eve and was tempted by the fact Tarandowah, outside of London, ON, opened their course briefly this January and February during an extended mild spell. Playing late is my first first tip to reduce the off season.


Christmas Eve – 2015.  A mild 14c.

2. Snow falls.
In most winters, it is impossible to think about getting out and playing. Early in the off-season, I use this time to clean and assess the state of my equipment. It can help to inform my wish list to Santa and re calibrates my thinking from playing to maintenance. My equipment is important to me and keeping it in good condition helps. I know I need to seriously consider my choice of golf ball storage, as The Grateful Golfer wrote about.

3. New Years
Like many, I assess goals and this year I have identified two golf related goals for myself. The first is to get into better shape. I am working with certified golf fitness instructor, Todd Marsh from Syracuse, NY. We met via #GolfChat and I am piloting a distance-based fitness program which is tailored to my needs based on a questionnaire and video assessment. I’m feeling great and already notice changes to my flexibility and ability to rotate around the ball in my swing. Second, is a plan to drop my index from 8.8 to under 5.  I will continue my lessons with Brian McCann from BGCC and will focus more on the short game. I am putting in my basement regularly with a focus on technique and pre shot routine.

4. Golf and Travel Show Season
I have written about this before and love the chance to engage with golf professionals and industry leaders. My engagement with the wonderful folks at Golf PEI supported important parts of my research and planning for my fall 2015 trip which you’ve all read about. The Toronto Golf Show whets the appetite for the coming year and allows a chance to try new equipment, plan golf trips, research memberships and simply immerse yourself in a day of golf dreaming and planning. When it is -15c that is not a bad thing.

5. The Masters
Where I live, this usually coincides with the opening of some courses and driving ranges. Even if winter is lingering, it is not long. I use this time to start to work on my full swing, even considering a golf dome (which I don’t enjoy), a golf simulator (which is better), or, if I could something more realistic like TopGolf or a new golf experience set to open in the United States, REALiTEE GOLF. The industry is making great advancements to allow players to enjoy golf off the course. Check them all out!

6. First Round
Nothing is better. It often looks like I am playing on the moon; the ground is wet and the grass dormant grey but I am playing outdoors and after a winter of patiently practicing and planning, I am ready to have at it.

Of course, there are other options. A trip south; reading; or even getting fitted for new equipment. All of these can generate the excitement and help pass the time during the dog days of winter.


Casting shadows on Christmas Eve early in the morning at Hidden Lake Golf Club


10 thoughts on “My Dog Days of Winter

    • Yes, Tiff. You win. Definitely the best answer to winter by any golfer I know. Love reading about your journeys and golf experiences. Hope things are well.
      Cheers, Mike

      • I am going great. I have another three courses lined up to play in Spain – Golf Peralada, Club de Golf Llavaneras and Real Club de Golf El Prat, I am also trying to plan my Irish adventure. I have most of my Scottish adventure sorted and I will be back home to PEI in May.

        Around trying to learn Spanish of course and volunteering. If you can’t make it to PEI I might just have to come tee it up with you before I head to South Africa in October.

        I’ll see how my finances go.
        Take care, Ciao tiff.

  1. Mike.

    I still can’t believe you golfed on Xmas eve in Ontario! That certainly helps to shorten the off-season. Sounds like when you are kept off the course, you make the best of it. That’s cool you are working with Todd from a distance. I follow him on Twitter too. I’ll be interested to hear how it helps you.

    Do you have any sort of putting mat (or putting aids) you use at home or do you just go old fashioned and throw a glass on the ground?

    Here’s to an early Spring and (hopefully) teeing it up in Calgary!


    • Hey Josh
      Yes, golfing on Christmas Eve is like gambling with house money. I’m enjoying the work with Todd. The routine is focused on my needs for increased flexibility with some modest strengthening. Pleased with my motivation level and he’s offering very support via distance. The pilot is working well from my end. And yes, I’ll do all I can to make sure we can tee it up when I’m in Calgary. The chance to play with you and Beth at your club would be a real highlight of my golf season! Putting at home is on a perfectly plush carpet. Good roll and not too thick or thin. Really focused on my technique and striving for consistency in thought and routine. It’s progressing! Thanks for the reply and we’ll certainly keep in touch!


  2. I don’t have an offseason, but I do play less in the winter/early spring due to work. This is some good information. My issue is motivation when working so many hours. Sometimes all I want to do is watch TV! Gotta get myself up and practice when I can. Can’t take this no offseason for granted!

    • Thanks, Jimmy. I’m envious of no real off-season but can appreciate how it is likely a convenient time of year for you to be focused on work. This is the first off season I am taking my conditioning and indoor practice more seriously. Cheers, Mike

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