By Rashed Mian
With leaves on the ground and snow soon in the forecast, golfers begin to migrate and their clubs recover from the abuse of crushing golf balls all summer long. That is the mind set of most golfers on Long Island, but what they do not know is the fall is still a prime time to go out and work on your game.
The idea of cozying up by the fire with hot cocoa in hand may be a more inviting idea than hitting golf balls into a pile of brown and gold leaves for most golfers. But more experienced golfers do not care and will brave through the blistering cold just to get 18 holes in and keep their game in tip-top shape for the summer. Since golf cart traffic dwindles at courses in the off season, beginners too have more time to improve their skills.
Beginners often suffer through nervousness that comes with keeping a fast pace in attempt to appease the assembly line of golfers behind them on the links. With many golfers resting their clubs while taking in college football and the NFL, rookies should hit the course and prepare themselves for next season.
“Beginner golfers can’t spend enough time working on golf,” said Mike Darrell, a PGA professional and the director of golf at the Mill Pond Golf Course. “It’s true that the number of rounds dwindles at this time of the year, and there’s definitely time for them to get out and work on their game.”
Golf can be a demoralizing game—all the money spent on it can leave golfers hurting in the pocket—unless they go to many of the nine-hole courses that Long Island features. The problem with driving ranges is that they are not a good gauge of how good you’re getting as a golfer. The only way to improve is on the green.
“When it is busy it can be disconcerting for beginning golfers. They can improve because they’re not being hassled,” Darrell said.
Teaching professional Chuck Kupfer of the Lido Beach Golf Course agrees. “If you’re a beginner golfer the winter time is probably the best time to work on your golf game because you don’t have the stress,” he said.
Another benefit of golfing during the off season is cheaper rates. A number of 18-hole courses on Long Island drop their greens fees, which could be beneficial since golf can be an expensive hobby.
Darrell gives clinics and said the cold doesn’t bother a lot of people. One of his beginners is a 70-year-old man who just began golfing a year ago and recently went through a kidney transplant. This student was golfing in shorts and a T-shirt on a recent November day. The cold was not a factor, and he was just excited to be out improving his golf game, Darrell said.
It is also beneficial to take up clinics during the off-season, because the number of group clinics drops down considerably after Labor Day. “People should not miss the chance to take advantage of fall clinics. They are not well attended so that means you’re going to get more attention,” said Darrell.
The drop off in group lessons is dramatic, according to Darrell. After Labor Day he has a 90 percent dropoff in group lessons, but private lessons stay about the same.
Golf is not like most sports where you can practice without paying, but those serious about getting better need to start sooner rather than later. “Traffic definitely picks up in the spring,” Darrell said. “Everybody is itching to get outside. “