Andrew Jowett, PGA Head Professional
During this period of isolation and strict social distancing, when a round of golf is out of the question, Andrew is using the opportunity to work on an aspect of his game that’s always been a weakness – his short game
It’s an uncertain and challenging time for everyone right now, and golfers are no different. Of course, it’s vital we all stick to the important guidance to stay inside, but at this time of year, when the sun’s out, the courses look stunning, and golf is just waking up from its winter hibernation, every inch of you longs to tread those fairways again. When the activity on which you can always depend – to maintain physical and mental wellbeing, stay connected with friends, and ease your troubles – is the very thing you can’t do, you might try to find other ways to fill that void. Dog walking, cycling and running can all be great workouts, boredom-fillers or tension-relievers, but few sports can deliver the same high as winning a four-ball with your mates on a beautiful sunny day.
However, I’ve decided that with all this time at home right now, it’s an opportunity to work on an aspect of my game that’s always been my weakness – my short game. For those of you, like me, who miss this great game, here are my top tips for sharpening your short game when you’re at home this spring. Before we know it, we’ll be out on course mis-hitting shots and losing balls again, and remembering the real reason for feeling frustrated about golf this season!
Gardens can be a surprisingly good setting for honing your short game skills. Don’t worry too much about how the ball reacts when it’s on the ground; just focus on the contact and landing point. Use a doormat to stand in for a golf mat – it will give you the same feedback to know how pure the strike is. If you’ve got a decent-sized garden, make the most of that space by identifying different targets at varying yardages. I’ve only got a small terraced garden, so I’ve been working on improving contact and delivering a consistent trajectory with a lofted wedge. Whereas at the Gleneagles Academy I might be aiming for the first green in the short-game area, these days I’m aiming to land the ball in a strategically placed washing basket! Each year when I return from the winter break, I normally find my chipping action has become very “handsy”, so what I’m working on at home right now is letting the body turn control the movement while allowing the arms, hands and club to stay connected.
Very few people will have a lawn at home that’s good enough for putting. For the firmness and speed required, it would need the daily attendance and expertise of a professional greenkeeper. This is where a living room carpet comes into its own! Position a drinking glass at varying distances and try to get the ball to rest into the glass, for the perfect pace of putt. As the carpet will provide a consistency of surface, it’s the ideal opportunity to work on technique – similar to chipping, much improvement can be made by keeping the hands quiet during the stroke and focusing on the rocking of the shoulders. The best thing about these greens is you’ll never have to contend with any spike marks!
Gleneagles – A Glorious Playground
Since opening in 1924, Gleneagles has been one of Scotland’s most iconic hotels and sporting estates. Set in the heart of Perthshire, the 850-acre estate epitomises the natural beauty for which Scotland is famed and offers guests a glorious playground of country pursuits and activities: fly a Harris’ Hawk, ride horses, play golf, go off-roading, train gundogs, shoot game, fish, enjoy Michelin-starred dining, or relax in an award-winning spa. The hotel also boasts a range of luxurious, adaptable event spaces overlooking the stunning grounds. Known as the host venue for the G8 summit of world leaders in 2005 and The 2014 Ryder Cup, Gleneagles lies within an hour’s drive of Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, with direct trains from London arriving in five hours at their own station, just two minutes from the hotel.