Tips on playing golf in the wind
Growing up in New England, we never knew there were any other conditions in the spring or fall. If you were going to play golf, you learned to deal with the wind and adverse conditions. Later in my career, this proved to be of great value and my most productive time in tournaments. It seemed that everyone else from southern or mild climates (no offense intended) were too busy whining, wanking, and complaining about the weather instead of focusing on getting the most out of the round. I felt that half the field had quit and was done before we teed it up!
First of all, you have to respect the wind and understand that it presents tougher conditions for full shots as well as scoring. Scores will be higher, period! An even-par round of 72 might be a great score during these conditions on courses where you are used to rounds of high to middle sixties. Or for all golfers, 4 to 8 shots higher than normal isn’t a bad score on a blustery day!
To help you enjoy your rounds more, and play better when heavy winds are forecast, I would like to offer some tried and true tips on how to play better in the wind, and enjoy the game of golf more.
The general idea is to accept the conditions, learn to adjust, and take satisfaction in using some of these ideas to perform better during difficult playing conditions. First of all, dress warm, stay loose. Be aware that the standards will change and scores will generally be higher due to the adverse conditions. Practice in the wind on occasion, so you will learn how to deal with it. Learn to use it and account for it. Hit balls into the wind, downwind, and crosswind. How else can you prepare and become familiar with it? Trial, error, and experience are your best teachers!!
First of all, keep the ball down! Use less lofted clubs and good rhythm. The wind will not affect a low shot ball as much as higher ball flight.
Next, swing smooth and don’t force the shots. Less spin lends control, higher spin accentuates the effect of the wind and exaggerates offline shots.
Shorten up on your clubs for control and learn to use lower lofted clubs. Hit a 7 where you would normally hit an 8 or 9 iron.
Around the greens, focus on staying solid, balanced, and get the ball on the ground rolling like a putt as soon as possible. Chip and run shots will respond much more consistently, and be dramatically less affected by the wind than high lofted pitch shots.
I have had the opportunity recently to ask several PGA Tour players to give their advice on the subject, and here are some pearls of wisdom from the world’s best players.
Hideki Matsuyama and Jasper Parnevik, both shared “Respect the wind and keep it low. Try to swing smooth and don’t force it. Using less lofted clubs whenever possible will make this easier to accomplish and minimize the wind’s effects.”
Matt Kuchar added, “ learn to use or ride the wind. The wind is a constant force that can be counted on to influence the shape of your shot. DON’T fight it!”If it’s blowing left to right, set up left and ride the wind, and vice versa.
Several players, including Billy Mayfair, Mark Calcavecchia, and Ernie Ells said to shorten up on your swing a little and club up. (lower Loft) Shorten up on the grip to gain more control.”
The best thought was from Jon Vegas who said “focus on hitting solid shots and making good contact! the wind doesn’t affect a well-struck ball as much as a weak strike.”
Better still, get together with your PGA Pro for a session and some first-hand advice on how you can do better in the wind.