Spring has finally arrived, and with it the start of golf season, a time when golfers’ hopes spring eternal. Like most golfers, I dream of improving my game; straightening the hook out of my drive, owning the greens and, dare I say, breaking 100. However, as is the case with any sport, getting ready for the golf season requires taking care of yourself physically and taking care of your equipment. So, here are a few tips that will help you get your season off to a great start and put you in reach of this year’s objectives.

Tip 1: Start exercising before you hit the links

Anyone who has played the game knows that golf is a demanding physical sport. It requires great flexibility, range of motion, balance and physical strength all working together to move that little white ball across thousands of yards and 18 holes. While it is tempting to hit the links on the first sunny day of the season, it makes more sense to start training and working your golf muscles a week or two in advance of your first round.

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do is injure your back on your first round and risk missing the entire season. Start off working your irons at the driving range, or practicing your chips and putts, before taking on 18 holes. The little things you do for yourself physically at the start of the season will pay dividends all summer.

Tip 2: Clean and repair your equipment NOW

A golfer’s equipment can make or break his/her game. So, why do so many golfers start their season by digging their clubs out of the basement 15 minutes before the first tee time of the season? Golf clubs can be very expensive. Taking proper care of them before, during and after the season can lengthen their life and improve your game.

Before even swinging a club, take the time to do proper cleaning and maintenance on all your equipment.

• Brush the dirt and turf (left behind from last season) off the grooves of your irons.

• Inspect the grips on all your clubs. If they are worn down, shiny or slippery, replace them. New grips can give a whole new life to old clubs.

• Your golf shoes are important equipment. Dirty or poorly maintained shoes will hurt your swing and are just plain uncomfortable. Clean your golf shoes and replace any damaged or missing cleats.

• Treat yourself to a new glove, and wash your towels.

• Empty and clean your entire golf bag and top up on new balls and tees.

• If you use a pull cart, inspect it to make sure that all moving parts are in good working order and won’t break, leaving you stranded somewhere on the 7th hole.

Tip #3: Shop for deals in the spring

Golf lovers know that the game can be an expensive passion. But the shrewd golfer can find deals on equipment and green fees.

If you think that you need to replace a club, or if it is time to upgrade your entire set, there is no better time than right now to shop around for some incredible savings. Most golf stores will have last year’s models of clubs on clearance right now.

Used clubs can also be a source of bargains, especially for the rookie golfer. Websites like eBay, Craigslist and Kijiji often have lots of used sets available for sale. Another great resource is www.callawaygolfpreowned.com, where great deals can be found on some of the highest quality golf clubs on the market.

Great deals can also be found on green fees. The local golf club wants you to come back every week. So, from time to time, golf clubs promote early season green fee specials on websites like www.accesgolf.com (French only) and www.golfbutler.com. Or, unadvertised specials can be had simply by calling the golf club or asking for them when you arrive at the Pro Shop.

And while it may be too late this spring, be on the lookout for trade shows like ExpoGolf, which holds events (offering great show deals on green fees and a fabulous golf equipment cash & carry) at multiple locations across Quebec in February and March each year.

Follow these few simple steps and you will be ready to shock your golf buddies and own the course from now until the snow flies again.