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Posted: April 4, 2013 7:57 p.m.

Break off the winter golf rust

Now that the weather is starting to change and the Masters is right around the corner, it’s time to get back into golf.
As I know all too well, many of you have been itching to get back on the course. Here are a few things that need to be done in order to get the most enjoyment out of your first round of the season:

Do an equipment check
Before starting the season, I always recommend checking the state of your equipment. How are your grips? If they’re shiny and slick, it might be time to have them changed.

Make sure all your clubs are clean and free of rust on the shafts, which may rust over long inactive periods, leading to breaking during your round.

Lastly, make sure you have enough balls, tees and gloves to get through the day. It’s awful embarrassing if you run out of balls on your first trip back to the course. If your buddies are anything like mine, they won’t loan you a $4 golf ball to save their lives.

Stretch
Many people don’t understand how important it is to stretch before playing golf. Stretching allows your muscles to warm up and helps protect against muscle pulls and cramps.

It’s especially important after long layoffs.

After the winter, make sure to do several stretches of you back, legs and chest to ensure your first round doesn’t end up being your last.

Hit some range balls
Running out to the course without properly warming up is something only kids can do.

For those of us past the kid stage in life, we need to hit some balls to regain our rhythm and timing.

I suggest starting with your sand wedge and hit ½ shots for the first 10-15 balls. Then work into full swings.

One of the most important things you need to remember is that timing and rhythm are essential to hitting a good golf shot.

Running out to play without properly warming up will lead to high scores and probably a few less dollars in your pocket.

Don’t forget your short game

One of the most overlooked parts of golf is the short game.

I know it’s not fun to work on chipping, pitching and putting, but it gives you a distinct advantage after a long layoff. Start with short putts, then increase to medium and finish with lag putting. After your stroke is feeling consistent, work on hitting chips of varying lengths. A well executed chip will take a lot of pressure off your putting stroke.

Finish the short game practice with a few lofted pitch shots.

Now get out and play your round but most importantly have fun!

The Ashton Hills Invitational is just around the corner.

The Invitational is an Individual Stroke Play Tournament to be held on April 20–21. The tournament benefits the Eastside Golf Team. If you are interested in playing please call the golf shop for details at 770-385-0064.

Bryan Raines is the golf professional at Ashton Hills Golf Course, and can be reached at braines@pga.com.

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