Poland Spring Resort head golf pro John King instructs a student.  Submitted photo

Golfers can’t go to their favorite courses due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean their skills need to go stale.

Area golf professions say there is plenty players can do in the comfort of their own homes or garage to prepare for the upcoming season as they wait for Gov. Janet Mills’ stay-at-home order to be lifted..

“In my opinion, everybody is trying to get their golf muscles ready because if you haven’t been swinging a golf club — I know when I go on vacation in the winter and I haven’t hit many golf balls, I am pretty sore after the first couple of days, if I hit a lot of golf balls,” said Nick Glicos, Martindale Country Club co-owner and director of golf. “Just trying to get your back and body back in golf shape really is a part of it. Even if you work out, the golf muscles are just different, you don’t use those like you do in a general workout.”

Glicos said taking practice swings in the garage or the yard is a good way to upkeep range of motion because bodies tend to tighten up as they age. Stretching also helps a golfer maintain a good, functioning golf swing.

There are specific muscle groups to focus on.

“I just got done with this bootcamp I follow online (Thursday) morning, and it’s a lot of hip work, a lot of strength and cardio,” Poland Spring Resort golf pro John King said. “So, if you have time to do certain things, where you can take an hour where you do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training where you can get the glutes, the abs, hips and shoulders.

“If you can, get that full-body workout; anything to get you in shape, especially the hips, the glutes and the core.”

Both Glicos and King stress the importance of posture drills.

“The biggest thing is to get into a good setup position to hit a golf ball — getting into a good posture, making sure your feet are shoulder-width a part, knees are bent and your butt is back, bend at the waist, and your arms are basically hanging straight down from your shoulders,” Glicos said. “Just get into a good athletic setup, and maybe put a couple of clubs on the ground or a couple of sticks on the ground to act as alignment. That way you can see where your feet are pointing in terms of alignment. Maybe another stick on the ground perpendicular that will act (as) where the ball position should be.”

King said a quick way to get ready is to take some swings, even if it’s not hitting a golf ball. He has a simple way golfers can ensure they aren’t wildly swinging the club for the sake of swinging a club.

“I would do as much mirror work as possible,” Kings said. “In front of a mirror — looking at setup position, posture and, of course, always checking their grip related to their ball flight. If they are a chronic slicer of the golf ball, then they do a grip check, and if they have a weak grip, that’s something they can make adjustments on. But I would spend more time. If they have time in the garage, just grab one of those closet mirrors and put it somewhere on the garage wall and check some different positions. Definitely ball position at address, grip posture is huge. Try do some things in terms of address positions, where you perform the address position or drills on a foam roller or half-foam roller, some people could use just an old pool noodle or balance board. That will provide more proprioception to the planes of movement they are working on.”

King has a few drills for golfers to do at their homes that include using household items to position yourself correctly. Put these series of drills into a training circuit, changing every 3-5 reps.

In the posture and balance checkpoints drill, establish a straight line up from the toes that goes in front of the knee, behind the butt end of the grip, behind the elbow and out the nape of the neck. Submitted photo

POSTURE AND BALANCE CHECKPOINTS

• Establish a straight line up from the toes that goes in front of the knee, behind the butt end of the grip, behind the elbow and out the nape of the neck.

• Pressure in the ground through the feet is middle of the foot.

•50-50 toes-to-heel pressure on ground prior to the backswing.

• Hands hang under the chin.

• Hips over Heels.

Variations of this drill include: Perform the drill on a half-foam roller, full-foam roller or balance board to provide more proprioception.

The swing plane for the 20/40 mirror drill. Submitted photo

20/40 MIRROR DRILL

• Place a piece of tape on your mirror in line with the shaft in the address position.

• Bring the club back so it is almost parallel to the ground.

• At this point, the hips have rotated 20 degrees and the torso has rotated 40 degrees.

• Notice how the club is still on top of the original shaft plane. The closer players are to the original shaft plane at this point the better. “I don’t see high-level players under the plane too often,” King said.

• The trail arm (the right arm, for right-handed golfers) has softened and is also on top of the original shaft plane. Pressure has started to shift into the trail leg.

• The lead arm (left) is connected to the turning chest, however, it still maintains a 70- to 80-degree angle with the chest. King doesn’t like to see the lead arm completely across the chest because it has a tendency to put the club under the shaft plane early in the backswing, and can lead to transition problems as the player starts the downswing.

In the halfway back mirror drill checkpoints drill, make sure the lead shoulder is lower than the trail and the club is still on top of the original shaft plane. Submitted photo

HALFWAY BACK MIRROR DRILL CHECKPOINTS

• Club is parallel to the ground.

• From the down-the-line or mirror view, the club head is in line with or slightly outside the hands.

• The club face is parallel or square to the spine.

• The hips have rotated approximately 30 degrees and the torso has rotated approximately 60 degrees.

• Pressure has shifted into the trail side and favors the heel.

• The lead shoulder is lower than the trail and the club is still on top of the original shaft plane.

PUTTING DRILL

There are also simple putting drills to help golfers stay sharp.

“With the putting, I like the gate drill where you can put series of gates, or one gate, (that) the ball has to go through to make sure you are, one, getting the ball started on the proper line that you intended,” King said. “Two, if you get that gate set, if you are putting a ball from a particular spot on a (putting) mat so you have a set field that you are going to be (putting) on, you are going to be starting that ball on the same position every time. Then 18 inches in front (of the ball) you can put two golf balls 2 or 3 inches away from each other and make sure you get the ball started between those two balls.”

EAGER TO PLAY

King and Glicos both said they have heard from their members regarding what they can do to avoid being rusty when golf courses re-open.

“They are very excited to get going,” Glicos said. “I think with the stay-at-home order and with no sports on TV, it’s been tough for the players, they really want to get out there to play some golf. The one thing that has kept people at bay a little is the weather has been a little bit cooler and cold — not golf-like. The demand will be there once the weather turns; they will really want to play some golf.”

King said Poland Spring’s members are doing a little bit of everything while they wait out the stay-at-home order.

“I have talked to a few of the guys, and most of them, they are getting a little itchy,” King said. “They want to get out and play. I think some of them are taking the initiative to do some things: hitting some balls into a net in the garage and working a little bit on their putting, maybe do some strength training and some cardio training.”


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