Winter weather challenges golfers in a variety ways. Cold, wet weather makes the course play extremely long and the extra clothing needed to keep us comfortable also can restrict our range of motion. Balls become buried in the soft ground and extra sand is used to help firm up soft, saturated areas. Most golf courses encourage “Winter Rules” which helps even the playing field where the course would be at a great advantage. Many golfers hang up there clubs and wait until a springtime like break in the weather reappears. Others don there winter gear and continue to play, in spite of the lousy weather.
I grew up in Oregon where winter weather seemed to last from late fall well into the spring time. Not to play was an option but I was too impatient to wait for a sunny day. I had to get my golf fix so I needed to learn how to beat the rain and cold. The first thing we did was play “Winter Rules,” which basically meant we could improve the lie of the ball six inches not nearer the hole unless it was within a club length of a tree. Some tournaments allowed the rule only within your own fairway. Because a ball collects mud when it lands, the rule allows you to mark, lift and clean the ball, then replace it to within six inches of where it came to rest. I strongly recommend playing “Winter Rules” to all my students as it will make it easier and more fun.
Preparing to play in the winter takes some common sense but you also need to make some adjustments in your thinking too. It’s not much fun to play when your body is chilled and your hands are cold. Make sure you wear a hat to keep the heat in and some under garments that hold the body heat. Hand warmers are a good idea and make sure you have some good rain gear to keep you dry. I make sure to pack my umbrella and an extra towel so my grips don’t get slippery. Golf shops also sell waterproof gloves that can help you grip the club with out it slipping.
So you’re playing “Winter Rules” and you have your warm clothes and waterproof gear. What next? The next thing you must do is adjust your thinking. If your normal seven iron travels 150 yards but you calculated that in the summer or in warm weather, you have to understand that with the cold and wet conditions plus the fact that you have more layers of clothing on, the distance you hit that seven iron will go a lot shorter. I automatically factor a loss of ten percent. On some really cold days it very well could be more. If you don’t factor that in you most likely will over swing and try to force the distance. This is the most common fault all golfers fight during the winter. The clothes restrict the backswing and slow the club head speed so right there the ball will not go as far as during warmer weather. The ball does not roll when it hits the ground and the cold air prevents the ball from traveling as far. Make sure you give yourself enough club.
It is challenging playing in these kinds of conditions but you don’t have to stop playing. I recommend a stretching program during the winter. This will keep your swing long and help you when you do start playing to regain some rhythm more quickly than if you ignored your flexibility for a few months. Keep in mind to contact your PGA Pro to jump start your season and get you back on track more quickly!
Log onto my web site at delonggolf.com to schedule a lesson or call me at 925 997-3683.