With the Winter weather on us here in the Northern Hemisphere, here's a guide to help you play better golf in the colder, wetter and windier conditions.
- Warm Up – warming up before playing has many proven benefits, improved performance, injury prevention etc. and it’s even more important when the body is colder in the winter. A few simple movements like leg swings, arm swings and body rotations will gently warm up the body and prepare it for swinging the club, 8 repetitions with each movement should take only around 2 minutes and can easily be done in the locker room before heading out. Warm up to swing a club don’t swing to warm up.
- Layer Up – keep your body warm with layers as opposed to big bulky pieces of clothing, a base layer for warmth and comfort, a mid layer for thermal regulation and an outer layer for protection from wind or rain. If it gets warmer layers can be taken off
- Keep your clubs dry – wet club faces cause less friction between ball and club face causing fliers with irons and a dipping flight with woods, it also negates the effect of gear effect with woods meaning mishit shots will go further off line. Keep a spare dry towel in your bag to keep your grips dry too when raining.
- Swing with ease – extra layers of clothing make rotating and turning your body harder, rather than focusing on a full turn and maximum effort focus on swinging with ease and keeping the proper sequence in your swing
- Carry your clubs – some clubs protect their courses with ropes to move traffic away from worn areas, carry your clubs to avoid the detours and give your course some extra rest by not having a heavy caddy car moving through wet areas. You might be wearing all your rain gear too leaving your bag lighter. Also, consider carrying only half a set, less weight and introducing more flair and shot making to your game.
- Consider foursomes – Foursomes is a great winter game, quick, enjoyable, less walking and less wear on the course, different thought processes required and someone else gets to recover from your bad shots!
- Hats and mittens – keeping your extremities warm is crucial, hats and mittens are and easy way to do this. Consider hand warmers for your pockets too. Avoid rain gloves as when they get wet your hands get wet too and get colder quicker.
- More loft on the driver – with wet fairways the ball will run less so consider adding loft to your adjustable driver to give you more carry and more overall distance, also a three wood can be used off the tee.
- Use your sand wedge more, less lob wedge – the higher bounce on the sand wedge means the club won’t dig as much in the soft conditions making it more forgiving. A low bounce lob wedge might dig too easily leading to a dreaded duff. The lob wedge would work better in hard compacted wet sand, not bouncing like the sand wedge would
- Wet rough lies and mud on the ball – consider using more loft from wet tangly lies, the wet rough can grab the club and deloft it leading to smothered shots, using high lofted irons will help avoid this and give much better results. With mud on the ball the shot will curve away from the side where the mud is, just a rule of thumb, prepare for the worst to happen
- Less break on greens – longer grass and wet greens mean slow greens, play less break then you normally would
- Low sun and watching the ball – Playing into the low rising and setting sun is more common in winter. To follow your ball, watch the initial flight and rather following the ball into the sun estimate where you think the flight will go and change your gaze to there, helping you find your ball quicker
- Ignore par – Imagine playing a 400-yard hole into a 50km/hour breeze(gale!), you’re not reaching this hole in two shots, ignore that it might be a par 4 and adjust your strategy accordingly.
- Lower Temperatures mean the ball flies less, factor this into your club selection. A rule of thumb to use, is for every 2 degrees Celsius difference in temperature the ball flies 1 yard less. So the difference between 5 and 25 degrees would be 10 yards less carry.
- Should you keep your golf balls warm? When the balls had liquid centres and rubber thread wound around the core, temperatures had an effect on the ball and it was a good idea to keep them warm. However, today's solid centre balls are not effected by temperature and they will not be affected when you leave them in the car on a frosty night.
- Plan for next season – Maybe next year you want to play your best golf yet, now is the time to put a plan in place to make that happen, figure out how much time you have a week to work on your game, a lot can be accomplished in just 1 or 2 hours a week, contact a golf coach and devise a plan between the two of you to get the most return from your practice time.
- Work on your fitness – Golf fitness is about how well your body moves, being more mobile, stable, stronger and more powerful will help you play better golf, with the longer darker nights spending 15-30 minutes a day on your body will have great benefits come summer
- Work on your mental game – golf is a game where the mental side can either diminish or enhance your physical skills. Winter is a great time to read a few books or listen to some podcasts some books to look for are from Bob Rotella, Joseph Parent, Fred Shoemaker, Garret Kramer. Bhrett McCabe does a great podcast. Some other good golf podcasts include 18Strong, Coach Glass Podcast and Golf Weekly from News Talk
Some links to podcasts:
- Head to the sun – what’s better then summer golf with the sun on your back? Winter golf with the sun on your back! Spain and Portugal are just a short flight away and for the more adventurous there’s South Africa, Australia and Florida!
Comments are always appreciated.