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There’s no place like Dome

It’s January in Chicago, and the snow is trying to make the world look nice. Golf is back on television and a chap called Tiger Woods just demolished the field at his own personal Southern California playground, Torrey Pines. So what are your plans for the upcoming season?

Here are my best suggestions for the next two or three months until the grass is green again and the siren’s song can be heard from the clubhouse of the local course.

Set some goals for the season – write down, yes WRITE DOWN some of the things that you want to achieve in golf next year. It may be as simple as breaking 100 or playing in your first golf tournament or hitting the range at least once every week, but once you have committed it to paper, it will carry more weight than if you just keep it in your head. A colleague of mine from South Carolina set himself the goal of hitting balls every day for as long as he could. He is over four years now and still going strong.

Practice in a local Dome – there are a number of domes in the Chicago area (I teach at the White Pines Dome in Bensenville from November to March every year) where you can hit shots in a heated environment and work on your swing. Even a weekly one hour session will ensure that you come out of the box ready for the season and in “golf shape.” Although the golf mats are a more forgiving surface than grass, you will still be able to tell if your shot was well struck or not. I would even recommend practicing Driver more as the environment is identical to that on the course (flat lie, ball ted up, etc.).

Take a lesson – although this is a shameless pitch for me and my fellow professionals, when better to take one than when the outcome of the shot doesn’t really matter? You may really find out some good information on some of your fundamentals that have gone awry. Good setup, grip and posture don’t happen automatically, and when they are wrong, you need to make compensating moves in your swing. This may lead to inconsistency, bad shots, or even worse, injury. Find a PGA professional through word of mouth or through the website and get yourself on the straight and narrow.

Practice your putting – most of you have a carpet at home that is pretty smooth and could double as a putting green with a little imagination. Once again, it is great to work on the stroke when the outcome doesn’t matter. You may even want to videotape your stroke to see if it is on line or the face is square.

Bottom line is that even though it is January, there are some things that you can do to prepare for the upcoming season and get a jump on the competition.

Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at

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