Playing in a Cross Wind

Playing golf with absolutely no wind is rare. Most of the time we have to battle the wind and playing in a cross wind can be especially difficult. Riding the wind and working the ball back into the wind can prove to be very useful in certain situations. Knowing when and where to try these shots is the key to playing consistently well in the wind.

Riding The Wind

Riding the wind means matching your shot shape to the wind direction.  For example, if the wind is blowing from right to left, a right handed player would hit a draw to allow the wind to "push" their ball.

Riding the wind is ideal for tee shots. It will maximize your distance. It is also a very useful strategy when you need to add some distance for an approach shot that is in between clubs. Be sure to understand these fundamentals when riding the wind:

  • Ball Travels Farther
  • Curves A Lot
  • Harder to Stop

Be sure to take a nice full swing when riding the wind. This will allow you to put the maximum amount of spin on the ball to help it stay in the air.

The ball travels much farther when you ride the wind. The ball go as far as it would straight downwind. It's important to adjust how far each club goes accordingly. It can be anywhere from 1/2 in a light breeze to as many as 3 clubs in 20 - 25mph breezes.

The ball will curve more both in the air and on the ground after it lands. Be sure to adjust your aim and play for the ball to continue moving left or right when it bounces.

It's harder to stop the ball when you ride the wind. The side spin and initial bounce forward will make the ball travel farther. This especially makes it more difficult to stop the ball quickly on the green. Make sure when riding the wind you pick a landing spot 5 to 10 yards short of the pin allowing your ball to bounce and roll out.

Working The Ball Back Into the Wind

Working the ball back into the wind means shaping your shot the opposite direction of the wind. "Fighting the wind" like this causes the ball to travel much shorter than normal. When the winds are strong and you ride the wind, many times it is virtually impossible to get the ball to stop. If this is the case, you will need to work the ball back in the wind to get it to stop. Working the ball against the wind is ideal for approach shots that you want to stop quickly. It is not generally recommended for tee shots. The result will be a very short tee shot leaving you with a longer approach. If you can avoid working the ball into the wind off the tee, do it. Working the ball into the wind is often a good solution for approach shots:

  • The ball stops faster
  • The curve is less
  • Goes shorter

Ball stops on a dime - Working the ball from left to right into a right to left wind will create a lot of backspin. The result is your ball stopping very quickly on the green.

Less Curve - The wind and the curve of your shot will likely be nullified by the wind, producing a relatively straight shot. Make sure you don't over-aim when trying to curve the ball back into the wind. For example, most people aim left of the target when attempting to hit a fade. But in a right to left wind, the result is almost always a shot that ends up left of the target because the wind doesn't let the ball curve to the right. It holds the ball straight. Instead, aim directly at your target and try to get your ball to curve into the wind. In this example, it will feel like you're actually trying to miss right of your target. But the result will be a straight ball that is right on the money.

Your ball goes shorter -  When you are faced with 150 yards and a right to left wind and you play a fade back into it, you will need to take your 160 yard club and take a 3/4 swing. The curve and the wind kill your ball which makes it go much shorter. If the wind is extremely strong (more than 15mph) it is very unlikely that working the ball back into the wind is your best solution. It is often too difficult to predict how much distance you will lose.