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Golf Instruction: Top 10 Ways to Deal with Lousy Weather

w/ Kevin Haime, PGA of Canada Professional

Fall golf in Canada means colder, windier conditions are inevitable, and a little rain will also be part of your upcoming rounds. Keeping your wits about you while mother nature is punching you in the nose can be difficult, but here are 10 bad weather tips so you can shoot low scores no matter the conditions.

Adjust your warmup: I usually recommend a 45-minute to one-hour warmup, but you should streamline that in the rain or cold. Just hit enough balls to loosen up your body and hit a few putts to make sure you know green speeds. Being warm and dry on the first tee is a priority. Even if it’s just really windy, back off on the number of balls you hit before playing. Hitting balls in high wind isn’t that productive.

Pack Extras: If it’s really raining, not only should you have more than one towel, you should also carry extra gloves, an extra pair of socks, and an extra ball cap, so you don’t feel like a drowned rat on the back nine. If you feel fresh, you’ll swing and even think better.

Keep Your Hands and Grips Dry: You just can’t play golf with slippery grips and wet hands, so rule No. 1 has to be to keep those two things dry at all costs. I don’t care how wet the rest of you might get, your towel dries your hands and grips first. In the rain, I always pack at least two towels in my bag because no matter how well you protect it, a towel will get wet during a four or five-hour round.

Be Prepared with the Right Equipment: Every golfer should own a quality Gore-Tex rain suit, waterproof shoes and a tour-sized umbrella. Your Gore-Tex rain suit will keep you warm in cold weather, insulate you from wind and keep you dry in heavy rains. A tour-sized umbrella is big enough to keep you and your golf bag dry. When it comes to surviving a long day in the rain, these items play a critical role.

Layering is Critical: In the Northeast our weather is so fragile in the fall, so you need to be prepared for lots of different temperatures and amounts of rain during any given four or five hour round. You should always have waterproof gear with you even if its sunny when you tee off. Also, wear a few thin layers rather than 1 bulky sweater. I always start with a moisture wicking base layer then add a thin sweater, a wind shell of some kind waterproof jacket. Those 4 layers give me every option I’ll need to get through the round.

Maintain Your Pre-Shot Routine: The worse the conditions, the more attention you have to pay attention to every shot. You should never hit a ball before you’re comfortable and confident over it. Patience, attention to detail, staying in your process and your pre-shot routine are so important in challenging conditions.

If It’s Breezy, Swing Easy: In the wind, it’s never a good idea to swing at 100%. Smaller swings with a little more club will keep your ball lower and out of the wind. Those easier swings will also guarantee better contact. As a matter of fact, most golfers would play better if they always took this advice. In the rain more controlled, smaller swings are also a good idea since you’ll be swinging in a jacket and may be susceptible to slipping on wet ground. 

Pay Attention to Details: A wet golf course plays very differently than a dry one and conditions can change from hole to hole. Greens can slow down on you, sand will be thicker, rough will play longer and fairways can soften up and even become less stable, so you may need to pick the ball off them. Also, don’t forget to fix ball marks in your line and check your yardages carefully.

Adjust Your Short Game: In the wind, you’ll want to hit lower, links-type bump – and – run shots whenever possible. Believe it or not, big winds can affect pitch shots and even your putts. In the rain, you can expect less roll on the greens and little to no release from the front of the green, so be sure to fly your ball to the hole.

Stay Positive: Bad weather rounds are usually long and can really be exhausting. It’s critical to keep your chin up and to try on every shot no matter what the course throws at you. Frustrating things will happen to everyone and the players who stay positive and focused will always come out on top.

Bad weather golf can be the most rewarding golf you’ll play if you’re prepared and if you have the right attitude. The most fun I have playing golf is in Ireland in terrible weather every October. Here, I’m hitting a punch draw 4 iron off the famous par 4 11th hole at Ballybunion. This particular day the rain was coming in sideways off the ocean in 45 km winds. Awesome stuff!!
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