Playing In Any Weather Condition
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The best thing you can do is accept the conditions. Accept that you are going to be faced with a difficult challenge. Getting upset won't do you any good. It will simply drain your much needed energy and make your day even longer. Instead, try to adapt to the elements before you play and anticipate the adjustments you will need to make. 80% of players don't want to play on difficult days. They spend all their time thinking about how difficult the conditions are instead of constructing solutions. Accepting your surroundings and adapting to the conditions will give you an edge over the competition. Below are some tips for playing in all weather conditions
Layer your clothes! Thin insulating shirts and leggings work best under your clothes. Golf is an athletic game and requires the freedom to move. If you decide to throw on a big ski parka as your solution, you will hardly be able to swing the club let alone make solid contact with the ball. Lee Trevino once told a reporter, "I can't swing the way I want to with four rain jackets and my pajamas on!". Funny, but true. Layer your clothes to keep you warm and swinging freely. Consider these items before your next frigid round.
- Under Armour and other clothing companies that offer tight warm clothes are great, except they can restrict your swing when too tight. Be sure to try on your clothes and swing in them. If you already have one of these shirts and it is restricting your swing, you can cut holes under the armpits. Its not the classiest thing to do, but it's only an undershirt. This will free up your swing more than you could imagine and save you from having to go back to the store.
- Cashmere is the optimum material for cold weather. It's warm, thin, and allows total freedom to swing. It and can be very pricey but the investment is worth it.
- Long Johns or chilly willys under your pants will help to keep your legs warm. Never underestimate how important your legs are in golf. Don't leave them out in the cold.
- Hot Hands can be purchased at Wal-Mart or a similar store for a dollar or two. They are absolutely fantastic for playing in the cold. Take them out of the package about thirty minutes before you get to the course on a cold day. Remember to shake them a few times to allow the heat producing chemical reaction to begin. They should be warm by the time you get to the course and will stay warm for hours. Put one in each pocket and enjoy the heat.
On extremely cold days when your miss hits shock your fingers, try to adapt to the elements before you play. Go outside and feel the cold on your body. Soak it in like you're sitting in a hot tub soaking in the warm water. Let your fingers feel the cold and accept that it's going to be cold for everyone. Your advantage will be that you are mentally prepared and have let your body adapt to surroundings. Other players will be thinking about how cold they are, not focusing on their golf game, allowing the elements beat them. Don't let that be you!
The very first thing you should remember to do when you get to the course is stretch. Cold days are the breeding ground for injuries and stretching helps minimize the risk of hurting yourself. A good stretching session will get your muscles loose, your blood moving, and make the cold that much more manageable.
Adjust Your Yardages
The shaft of the club can’t bend or flex as much when it's cold. It can feel like you're swinging a 2 x 4 at times. Because the shaft is so stiff and inflexible, its much more difficult to create speed. Understand that the ball will not be traveling as far as it normally goes. If you hit a 9-iron 140 yards in normal conditions, expect your 9-iron to go 125 yards when 60 degrees or below.
Swing Within Yourself
The amount of speed you generate is reduced in the cold weather, making it more difficult to hit the ball high and to spin it. Once again, accept this reality and don't try to be a hero. Count on your ball bouncing a little bit more than normal. Swing at 80% of your maximum power on full shots and plan on playing to the areas of the course where there is room to run it. A bit more conservative strategy will pay dividends.
Playing in Rain
Playing in the rain can be frustrating, exhausting, and a mental grind. When playing in the rain, if you don’t have an umbrella, rain pants, a jacket, and rain gloves, it's like showing up to a math test without your calculator.
In The Bag
- Rain gloves- Rain gloves are amazing and take up practically no space in your bag. Always have a pair of rain gloves in your bag. If you are ready for the rain in no other way, a good pair of rain gloves will give you a chance to survive. You don't have to use 10 different leather gloves and ruin them. Rain gloves are designed to absorb the water and can be used over and over again. They actually get more tacky when they get wet. Incredible invention.
- Rain Gear - High quality rain gear is often expensive but it's worth it when you need it. Make sure you get rain gear that is 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. Also, it's tough to get rain gear that fits properly so be sure to try it on and take a few swings in it before you buy it. Finding a jacket that allows you to swing at your full potential is key. Jackets without sleeves may not be as warm but they allow you to swing freely and still keep you dry. A jacket that is too tight won’t allow you to make a full turn and will result in low, quick shots. Avoid rain gear that is baggy in the mid-section because it will often get in the way of your hands when you set up to the ball.
- High Quality Umbrella - Make sure you have an umbrella that is designed for golf -- not one of those rickety ones that will turn inside out like Mary Poppins when the wind blows. You can pretty much bet that any umbrella with a major club company logo on it will do the job.
- Hang your towel inside your umbrella to keep it dry. - Keeping your towel dry is paramount. Your towel is your last line of defense if your grips get wet. Keeping it under your umbrella is your best bet. When it's really pouring out, even that can stop working after a while. Which leads us to the next item.
- Keep an extra towel in your bag This one is self explanatory but make sure that the pocket that towel is in is completely sealed otherwise it will be water-logged and useless when you need it most.
Now that you're ready for the test, keep these keys in mind when you're playing
Swing at 80 Percent
When playing in the rain it is easy to try and force the ball or swing hard because the feeling is you have to grip the club so hard. The key is to swing easy and concentrate on solid contact. Take more club and swing at 80% of your max.
Ride the Wind
It is so difficult to spin the ball in the rain. If you are a good golfer who is used to being able to work the ball back into the wind, its probably best to throw that shot out the window in the rain. The wind is going to win because you can't spin it. Also, if you do actually manage to curve the ball into the wind, it is going to go much shorter than normal. It's already going to go shorter because it's raining, now you've made it worse. It will almost always work out better if you let the wind push your ball in whatever direction its blowing. You will have a much easier time controlling your distance and it will be much easier to predict. Riding the wind can be a great tool if used properly.
Playing in the Wind
Wind in Your Face
Mistakes are magnified when you're hitting a shot into the wind. Swinging full into the wind creates too much spin and makes it more difficult to keep the ball on line. This can cause a lot of trouble for the average golfer. The average player takes 1 extra club, which isn’t enough. They always and end up swinging too hard. The harder you swing the more the ball spins, and the more the ball spins, the more the wind will affect it. In short, more spin = more friction = more curve = problems.
- When It's Breezy, Swing Easy - It's a cliche because its true. But it's only really true for shots INTO the wind. To minimize the effect the wind will have on your golf ball, you have to hit it lower. To hit it lower you need to spin it less. And to spin it less, you need to swing with less speed than normal. This does not mean decelerate! Always accelerate through your shots.. To swing with less speed simply take it three quarters of the way back and three quarters of the way through. Taking spin off the ball will allow it to pierce through the wind better than a shot spinning at a high rate.
- Soften Your Grip Pressure - When playing a shot directly into a head wind, be sure to use less than normal grip pressure and position the ball a little further back in your stance. The swing speed should be 60-85%.
Wind at your back
Sometimes when hitting shots downwind, the wind can actually knock the ball down instead of making it carry further. This is a spin issue. When hitting a shot straight downwind, spin is your friend. You want to impart as much spin on the ball as possible to make sure it stays up in the air. Here are the keys to making sure the wind helps you.
- Swing Full - If you're in between clubs, take the higher lofted club (e.g. 9-iron instead of an 8-iron) and hit a nice full shot. This will help you launch it higher, spin it more, and give you the ability to hold the green.
- Ball Forward - Move the ball and inch or so up in your stance to help you hit it higher.
- Finish High - Your follow through controls your trajectory. The higher your hand finish, the higher the ball will go.
Playing in the Morning
Unlike many sports, golf can be played at 6:30 am. At that time of day different weather conditions come into play. When the sun is just coming up, the dew hasn’t burned off yet. This means your club always has some moisture on it. This excess moisture makes it more difficult to spin the ball and decreases your shot control. When chipping on greens with dew on them, the first bounce usually skids forward instead of digging into the green and checking. This typically makes the ball go farther that you would expect. The ball goes shorter in the early mornings and can also collect mud on it. Be sure to be aware of what time it is, and adjust your yardages as the temperature warms up. The bunkers are usually a little damp with the sand compacted. This makes it much easier to play from rather than the fluffy hot sand in the afternoon.
Playing in the Fog
Fog can also be a factor in the wee hours of the morning. While fog doesn’t make it difficult to swing or hit the ball, it still can affect the flight of the ball. Usually fog will make the ball go a little shorter because of all the moisture in the air.
Playing in the Heat
Playing when its 90+ degrees outside can have its challenges too. First and foremost stay hydrated!!! Drinking water can’t be emphasized enough when playing in extremely hot conditions. Besides staying hydrated remember to:
- Adjust Your Yardage- When the temperatures in the summer get hot it is important to remember that your golf ball will travel farther. A 7-iron that normally travels 160 yards could reach 170 yards if not more. Try and gauge how much farther the ball is going before you play so you can pick the correct club on the course.
- Keep Dry Towels- Just like when it rains, a dry towel can be a savior in the heat. Keeping your hands dry is extremely important or else you won't have any control of your shots. Wet hands will make you grip the club stronger making you lose any feel.
- Stay in the Shade- Wearing proper sun block and standing under shade will help you to conserve your energy.
Playing in the snow
REALLY? How desperate are you to get out of the house. If you insist on playing in the snow we only have a few useful tips for you:
- Keep Warm - Layer up and be sure to check out the playing in the cold section.
- Colored Golf Balls - Virtually every company sells golf balls in various colors. For obvious reasons a white golf ball will be hard to locate in the snow.
Golf is a wildly changing game when you factor in the weather. Everyday is different and taking the necessary steps to be prepared for all of the challenges is key to shooting your best round. Make sure you have the proper equipment and you are mentally ready for what's out there.