Getting ready for golf season

Kyle Thornburg practices at the golf simulator at the Incline Village Championship Course. | Courtesy the Championship Golf Course

Golf season is right around the corner, but are you ready to get out there and play?

Since Tahoe’s golf courses are closed during the winter because of the snow, it can be easy to slip on one’s game. Fortunately, there are ways to keep practicing on and off the mountain.

“Some good ways to prepare for golf season are to go to the gym and take some golf-specific fitness classes to get loosened up.”
–Travis Alley

“Some good ways to prepare for golf season are to go to the gym and take some golf-specific fitness classes to get loosened up. It’s good to tune into the Golf Channel to get into the mood of golf season,” says Travis Alley, director of golf at Tahoe Mountain Club/Old Greenwood Golf Club.

Next winter, be sure to check out Old Greenwood’s snow-golf program. “We have nine holes set up on our driving range. Each one is about 50 yards long. You can get some exercise by cross-country skiing or snowshoeing to them and you only use one club [usually it’s a 6-iron], hitting tennis balls into holes the size of trash cans,” Alley says.

Several local courses offer golf-simulator experiences that allow one to play a virtual golf course indoors where it’s a little bit warmer. Incline Village Championship Golf Shop offers a FlightScope X2 Elite launch monitor where you can be transported to a tropical course and play 18 holes in an hour.

“Our simulator is open to the public; it’s most popular when it’s snowing outside,” says Kyle Thronburg, the head golf pro. He says that the FlightScope uses a form of Doppler radar to calculate swing speed, smash factor, ball speed and a variety of other factors.

“We use the FlightScope on lessons, as well. As instructors, we are looking at the impact with the ball, how fast they’re swinging, their stroke,” he says, adding that Sierra Nevada College’s golf team regularly uses it and Incline High schoolers will start coming in.

“Locals and visitors come in when they can’t ski or snowboard, but well over half of the FlightScope’s usage is from residents,” he says.

Out of its 22 virtual golf courses, Torrey Pines is one of the most popular, but on this particular week staff has been recommending Bay Hill since that is where the PGA Tour was recently.

“The best way is to stay active in the winter is go skiing, go hiking, keep your muscles active and engaged. Grab a club and tap a few balls around the house or go outside and play in the snow. Balls don’t go very far. The important thing is to keep that muscle memory,” says Thornburg.

The Martis Camp Golf Shop also offers a digital swing golf simulator, which allows its members to virtually hit balls on a driving range, targets in a chipping area and play a full 18-hole course.

“Members will ski in the morning, play a couple of holes in the afternoon,” says Bryan Pate, director of instruction at Martis Camp. “Winter is a good time to make changes to get ready for summer, to work on your motion, function and alignment. Trained motion helps you get into position for more consistent results.”