Golf

Strapped for golf time? Here are 6 ways to improve on a packed schedule

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Being a new dad means really getting creative in how you practice your golf game.
Image via Nick Dimengo
Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a GOLF.com series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they face along the way.
On Oct. 5, 2023, everything changed.
That was the day I went from being a soon-to-be dad to an actual dad. Our little Livvie is big-eyed, happy and has naturally become the joy of our lives.
With Livvie now the center of our universe — and rightfully so — being a new dad has meant making some sacrifices.
Gone are the days of always saying yes to tee times with buddies, or making impromptu trips to the driving range. Now, my wife and I are using a just-survive-the-day mentality, hoping we don’t forget the simplest tasks walking between floors in our house.
But that doesn’t mean that the golf grind stops!
For the past year or so, I’ve made it clear that my goal is to break 80. While I fell short last year (in part because of Livvie’s birth), I can’t just give up now that I feel so close to achieving it, right? Hell no!
So between all the diaper changes, late-night feedings, baby talk, long walks or drives to get her to actually nap and general dad/husband duties, here are 6 ways that I’m still trying to improve my golf game. Whether you’re a new dad or not, hopefully they can help you see some gains before golf season is in full swing, too.
Whether it’s using a putting alignment mirror in my kitchen, the Perfect Putting Mat in my living room, the Divot Board (see below) to feel the bounce of my wedges, or using a launch monitor when I actually have an hour to hit the driving range, training aids might be my new best friend.
So many people only associate playing golf with, well, actually playing a round of golf — but that’s far from the case.
With training aids, you can play golf without the hassle of going to the course. And whether you’re a new dad or just a busy person, can use these types of products to always grind on your game from pretty much anywhere.
Man, I sure would love to take out the big dog and hit driver off the tee again, but for now, playing a quick 9 holes on a par-3 course is the most efficient way to sneak in a round. Depending on how backed up it is (which, knock wood, it hasn’t been because of the early-spring weather), I can finish up in less than 1.5 hours, which is just enough time to focus on each shot without stressing about getting home.
A post shared by Nicholas Dante Dimengo (@ndimengo)
More than anything, though, playing par-3 courses has helped me dial in my approach shots, because I play virtually all my shot off the turf and with no tee.
This one’s simple, because every single one of us have a mirror in our house! So when I can’t actually work on my full swing by hitting balls, I’m the weirdo swinging a club in front of his wife’s full-length mirror in our bedroom.
We’ve all seen mirrors at practice facilities (and probably ignore them in favor of hitting balls instead), but doing some mirror drills at home can be a big boost of confidence.
I’ll use the mirror to check my setup, golf posture, grip position, takeaway, and the club’s position at top — which I can snap pics of for the aforementioned golf teachers to look at for feedback.
I’ll admit that I’m pretty spoiled here, because I have access to GOLF’s Top 100 Teachers, many of whom are more than happy to send tips or give me some advice when I send pictures or videos of my swing.
Sure, it’s always more effective to get a golf lesson in-person, but being a new dad is a 24/7 gig, so it’s near impossible to make the trip to the course or practice facility these days, then spend an hour or so with an instructor.
So even if I’m not hitting a ball, I often film my swing and send it to a golf teacher to analyze it for me, providing easy feedback to try and improve. This has been super helpful (especially during the offseason), helping me get the feeling and sensations I need whenever I do have time to play or hit balls.
Yes, seriously! As a soon-to-be 40-year-old, I refuse to admit that I’m “just getting old,” and instead blame any chronic aches on holding Livvie or bending down to get her from the crib. Whether that’s the case or not, seeing a chiropractor once a week is helping me stay loose.
I don’t really have much time these days to hit the gym or do some cross-training. So getting an adjustment every week has given me better flexibility, while also strengthening key areas in my back, shoulders, and neck. I can tell a big difference in my golf game, as my rotation is much better (and less lazy!) thanks to the exercises I’m doing.
I live in Seattle, so the weather this time of year is still a bit bipolar. It’s either gray and drizzles, or it’s blue skies and warm with lots of sunshine.
On those days when spring feels like it’s in the air, I avoid going anywhere near the golf course or driving range — which is opposite of what most people do. Instead, I like sneaking in a quick 9 on days when it’s either cold or even a little rainy outside. This allows me to play a quick round without being backed up on tee boxes, while also staying laser focused on what I need to do to see improvement.
So whether you’re a new dad like me who’s getting scrappy with his golf, or just someone who could use alternative ways to see improvement, hopefully these ideas will help you shave strokes and enjoy the game a little bit more.

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