The great Arnold Palmer once said; "It's a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get."

Golf doesn't have to be a seasonal sport for Minnesotans. There are plenty of indoor facilities to work on your game and get ready for when the grass greens, the weather warms and outdoor courses open.

Braemar Golf Dome in Edina has been a hotspot for golfers for decades in the winter months. It's the largest and longest hitting indoor practice facility in the Twin Cities. It has 44 tee areas on two levels.

Golf Zone in Chanhassen is reopening in March under new ownership. Its doors have been closed since May of 2018 after initially opening in 1998. It has an indoor putt putt course and a 40-stall heated driving range.

Inside Edge Golf in Eden Prairie has three different level of simulators, including up to 70 world-famous golf courses like Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, the Old Course and even Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska.

Bunker Indoor Golf Center in Shorewood is open seven days a week with a full list of simulated golf courses like Inside Edge Golf.

Upping your game

It's easy to hit a bucket of balls in the dome or play a simulated course, but what else can a golfer do to improve?

Corey Carney, the head golf professional for Three Rivers Golf Academy at Cleary Park in Prior Lake, said you should start with a practice plan.

"Indoor facilities allow golfers in cold climates the opportunity to work on their game throughout the winter," Carney said. "One mistake a lot of people make indoors and outdoors is they commit too much of their time to the driver.

"There are a lot more shots taken with clubs that don't have a big head cover on them," Carney added. "A mid to short iron is easier to manage and easier to try to introduce newly learned techniques into your swing. If you can groove your swing with a 7-iron then you should be able to transfer that to other clubs in the bag."

Brad Bulver, the boys varsity golf coach at Prior Lake, advises his players to do more than take a bunch of swings in the winter indoor facilities. He said staying fit helps golfers in the winter, which includes walking, lifting and stretching.

"That will keep your golf muscles as prepped as possible to avoid the four- or five-month layoff," Bulver said.

Bulver added that reading golf books to learn about the swing and calming strategies for mental preparation will also help your game over the winter.

Back to basics

Carney said the winter months are also a good time to learn about the rules of golf.

"The rules can be a bit overwhelming, but knowing them can help a player," he said.

Building strength is more popular now in the golf world, Carney said, and the offseason is great time to improve your body physically.

"I believe that flexibility is the best physical ability to work on during the offseason," Carney said. "There are a lot of players on tour that bomb the ball without looking like Lou Ferrigno, but they all have one thing in common: flexibility.

"I would recommend finding a personal trainer that is knowledgeable in the needs of the golf swing," Carney added. "Make sure to focus on the twisting motion of the torso that is so important to the golf swing."

What about the short game, putting and chipping? There's more to the game than just a 300-yard drive.

Working on your short game in March can be mean lower scores in April and May, instead of June and July.

"Any area in the house can be turned into a putting practice area, preferably with thin carpet," Bulver said. "Cement floors can work if you are planning on making it to The Masters. Chipping nets work well."

The Braemar Golf Dome has a large putting area, along with group or private lessons.

"I have found that a putting mat is the best form of practice during the winter months," Carney said. "These mats are an inexpensive way to work on your putting from inside eight feet. It takes a lot of pressure off of your lag putts if you have confidence in making five footers.

"Chipping with a soft foam golf ball can be very useful as well," Carney added. "Take a video of your form and compare it to Youtube videos of some of the best players in the world. Always practice with a purpose."

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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