What advice do you have for players to improve their score while playing in windy conditions? Any drills to help?
28 Professionals Contributed
When Playing In The Wind, Manage Your Spin
When playing in windy conditions, a key element to a player’s success is to manage the amount of spin put on shots.
Many player’s try to hit down on the golf ball to flight it low in the wind (ie: ball position more back in stance at address). Unfortunately, this can lead to also creating more spin, negating any benefit to the low launch. Maintaining a relatively neutral ball position and simply taking a 3/4 swing with a less lofted club can be a far better option for the majority of players.
Managing spin off the tee is crucial, too. The common advice of teeing the ball lower with driver in the wind can actually cause an increase in spin rate, due to hitting the ball lower on the club face. Many players will also strike downward on the ball when it’s teed lower, resulting in a further increase in spin. It’s best to assure an upward angle of attack with driver by teeing it normal to reduce spin. If possible, hitting a draw off the tee can be a good option to maximize distance when heading into the wind.
Reduce spin for success in windy condition
Having played a lot of golf in Las Vegas, you have to learn in very short order how to play in the wind. And the key to success, if to control how much spin you impart on the golf ball. This includes backspin and side spin. Too many amateur golfers have bought into the mantra “put in back in your stance and hit down on the ball”. This in essence applies more spin than a normal golf shot, and the wind will grab ahold of this excess ball spin, and will compound any errors in the shot.
The key is to reduce golf ball spin. I like to take one of two extra clubs, and use the full arc of my swing, but go at it at 3/4 or half speed. Slowing the pace of the club down will lower the amount of spin on the golf ball, and give the wind less to work with, and the ball tends to be impacted less. You’ve heard the phrase “the wind rarely affects a well struck golf shot”, and there is some level of truth to that. A ball that is spinning less right or left will not slice or hook nearly as much.
Furthermore, a ball that is struck with a descending, steep angle of approach will typically have an absurd amount of backspin. Combined with an oncoming wind, that backspin is compounded and the ball immediately flights upward, and the attempt at low trajectory is overwhelmed by the spin and wind, and shots instantly are destine to come up short. By reducing the speed of the club, and spin on the ball, the trajectory of the shot automatically comes off lower, and with less spin for the wind to focus on and ruin a well intentioned idea!!
Control in the wind
To help get better control in a windy situation, first you need to question is the wind into me or going with me.
If the wind is going with you. Don’t think “grip it and rip it” off the tee. That may lead into an over swing and that’s never good. Think make a full back swing and accelerate my body through impact, do no let me arms take over. This will give you solid impact and acceleration at and through the ball. Helping create speed and height to get the ball to travel with the wind.
If the wind is into your face.
Club up, move the ball back around 1 ball length, and choke down a half inch.
After making these adjustments. We are going to make a very controlled and smooth swing. Maintain control, balance, and rhythm for this swing. This isn’t about how far you can hit it, it’s about how well you can strike it.
The harder we swing when the wind is into our face, the more the wind will effect the ball flight and have the ball coming up short of your target.
Patience and solid contact
Having spent 3 summers as the Teaching Professional at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket Island has given me vast experience playing in the wind. Nearly every day the wind would blow 30 MPH. It was more common to se 50 MPH than below 20 MPH.
The most important thing in my opinion is center face contact. Balls struck solidly tend to pierce through the wind. Miss hits really get eaten alive!
Obviously a lower ball flight is preferable but I see a lot of poor attempts to hit low shots. I would rather see a player use plenary of club and swing at a slower pace than try to manufacture a different swing. Tom Watson won multiple Open Championships employing this method rather than changing his swing.
A good rule of thumb is into the wind 10 MPH means one more club and down wind 1/2 a club. Also generally swinging softer into the wind lowers spin and ball flight while down wind swinging hard will keep the ball in the air by increasing spin. I see players swing hard into the wind and hit spinning up shooters then swing easy downwind and the ball falls out of the sky.
Finally, be patient. You are gonna get beaten up. Accept it and move on. Bogeys are much better than doubles or worse!
Hit an Extra Club, Hit it Solid, and Play the Wind
I tell my students three things when playing in the wind:
1. Hit an extra club. If you hit your 7-iron 165, hit a 6-iron from 165 instead (assuming a cross-wind that doesn’t really affect your playing yardage). The ball will come out lower, and with a bit less spin, both of which stabilize the ball flight in the wind. Your shot won’t balloon or curve as much. It also helps you to…
2. Hit it solid. Taking a smaller swing with an extra club will lead to more solid strikes. A ball solidly struck flies through the wind much better than a poorly hit shot.
3. Play the wind just like you would the break on a putt. If the wind is going to move your ball 10 yards right to left, aim to hit a target ten yards right of your actual target, and just play your normal shot. Let the wind move the ball for you, just the way you let a right-to-left putt break downhill.
When it’s Breezy, Swing Easy!
When it’s Breezy, Swing Easy.
“Tee it high and let it fly” is a good thought that can prove beneficial to the golfer who feels the wind at their back. And remember, when it’s blowing hard, the best thing to do is “swing easy.” Tempo is the key.
Golfers typically work too hard when they feel wind. Golfers tend to fight the wind, and we should not fight it. Take it easy and “swing, don’t hit!”
When the direction of the wind is directly in your face, so to speak, take a few simple precautions at address to combat the wind. Play the golf ball in the back of your stance. Lean the golf club shaft forward, so your hands are ahead and the golf club face is de-lofted. Take a three-quarter backswing and keep your head still. Swing easy and let the club do the work. Your modified set up will ensure that the flight of the ball stays low and does not get up into that face wind.
Stay smooth in the Wind
We have all heard the phrase: “Swing easy when it’s breezy” this is easy to say and difficult to do. When the wind picks up I have watched players that are normally good ball strikers become very poor ball strikers because they feel the need to muscle the ball to the target, I play and teach that when the wind picks up and is in our face we must take an extra club for every 8 to 10 mph of wind then make sure we keep our best tempo. The more solidly we can strike the ball the better it will fly. Choking down on the club a little (1/2″-3/4″) should help you to keep your tempo.
When playing in a cross wind we really need to keep it smooth because the wind will really make a poorly struck shot curve well off line. I will also play the ball back in my stance and abbreviate my follow-thru to help keep the ball lower. (think Tiger stinger) The key though will be to make sure you keep your body rotation just like normal. If the rotation stops the ball will not fly online.
When practicing at the range you can try this shot to see how low you can keep the ball while still making good contact. If you have the space you can put tow alignment sticks with a pool noodle across the top (think soccer goal or upside down goal posts) and try to hit shots between and under.
As always you can give your PGA Professional a call to help you work on this.
How to play in the wind
First of all, be patient. You have to take what the weather gives you. Realize that everyone is playing in the same conditions as you. Those who are patient and calm and think there way around will do fine. An example of this hitting a tee shot into the wind. Every ounce of you is going to want to crush it harder to offset the wind. That is a bad idea because swinging harder you curve it more. Wind just makes curves worse. Realize that you will have a longer approach shot and embrace it.
Second, lets talk about full swing. The biggest factor that will affect your game in the wind is SPIN. The harder you hit it, the more spin you create. The more spin you create, the higher the ball goes and the more it curves. To fix this, you should master a ¾ length swing and take more club. A ¾ 6 iron could go as far as a full 9 iron and go much lower. A ¾ swing for most is when your lead arm stops at parallel to the ground in the backswing. Any higher and you will get closer to full distance.
Third, lets talk about putting. Higher winds can affect your chips and putts, but only at the highest levels. If you are an average, 90s shooter, don’t worry about wind and the line. Make your stance a little wider so your don’t get wobbly and focus on speed. When it comes to chipping, chipping into the wind will reduce your roll out and chipping downwind will add to your rollout.
Respect the wind, Use the wind, own the wind!
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.
Make the wind your friend!
We’ve all probably heard the old saying, “Swing easy when it’s breezy” and I would have to say I’d agree with that most of the time. The tendency into the wind is to tense up and swing harder but that only adds backspin and makes the ball shoot upward into the wind and come down shorter. Down wind shots can be hit harder because you want to get the ball up in the air where the wind can help. So, swing easy into the wind, (maybe even hit a draw or hook into the wind to keep it lower) go ahead and swing harder with the wind…But what about cross winds? There is a little bit of guess work when estimating how much the wind moves the ball but the way I approach it is simple. If I have room, I let the wind move my ball towards the target by starting it into the wind. If there isn’t enough room to do that then I try to curve the ball back into the wind to hold it straighter. For a right handed golfer that would mean drawing or hooking into a left to right wind and fading into a right to left wind. Keep in mind that a draw will fight the wind better than a fade because of the trajectory. A draw will be a lower trajectory shot than a fade in most cases. (the open face to the path will add loft)
As in most things with golf shots, it helps to practice these shots so you’ll have a little experience when it is showtime. During practice rounds, hit the same shot with two or even 3 different shapes, trajectories and clubs. This is the best way to get some feel for these type shots. Some of my most memorable shots have been working a ball back into the wind and having it turn out as planned. Now that’s golfing your ball!
Swing easy when it’s breezy
Playing in windy conditions is one of the most difficult things for a tournament player. The better a ball striker you are the less the wind effects the flight of the golf ball. Most players try to knock down shots but in my opinion they use the wrong technique. Most play the ball back in their stance, hands forward to deloft the club. In no wind conditions this method produces a nice low penetrating shot. But for many players this produces too much backspin which when you introduce windy conditions and produces a shot the balloons up in the air. I prefer players to learn to swing easier take one or two or three more clubs which produces a lower flying shot with less backspin. Best drill to practice this is to take a 7-iron and say your normal 7-iron goes 160 yards practice shots with it in no wind conditions where it only travels 120.
On a separate note I don’t think most people realize how much the wind effects yardage. I use my TrackMan to help track the ball and learn just how much wind effects my shots.
Shots into the wind are much more adversely effected than shots downwind are helped.
My last note is this. While I talked about knock down shots at first I find unless you really really really practice and master those shots many players are better off taking normal swings especially with driver and taking their medicine when into a strong wind. And accordingly learning their yardages. A good rule of thumb into the wind is one club added for every 10mph of wind.
Shallow your swing
I love this question. The drill I would recommend is also a drill I use with students when they are coming down to the ball with the shaft too steep. So this is a multi purpose drill. When you are playing shots in windy conditions, especially if you are heading into the wind, the clear mistake golfers make is they inherently start swinging too fast and as a result they get steep and now ball contact is erratic. You hear professionals talk all the time before the Open Championship how important ball contact is. Here is a great drill I learned from listening to Nick Faldo and his preparation for the British Open.
Faldo said that even for elite players the tendency is to put the ball back in the stance and hit down on it and really punch it. He said the problem with that is for better players they get too steep and end up spinning the ball too much and the ball ends up ballooning into the air. That is the exact opposite of what you want. Well we know that the average recreational golfer usually is already too steep, so this drill can help golfers of all levels and help them train so they can improve their swing in general.
Faldo said that about 3 weeks before The Open he would start working on this drill. Take a 5 wood which usually has a very shallow face. Then tee it up really high, almost as high as you would do if you were teeing up a driver. Then make 3/4 swings and just try to brush the ball off the tee with the intent to hit low bullets. If you get a nice wide arc and focus on a smooth transition you will find your approach angle into impact will be very shallow. If you really get used to this the tee shouldn’t even move very much. If you are steep you will go right under the ball and pop it up into the air. Once you get the hang of this then you can take something like a 9 or 7 irons and hit little shots off the turf and do the same thing. You will see that you will barely brush the turf, the ball will fly lower but you will make wonderful contact. The picture you want in your mind that I tell my students is that you envision the descending clubhead like a fighter jet landing on a aircraft carrier, the club is descending but it is approaching on a very shallow glide path. I use this drill even for my advanced students when they start getting narrow in the downswing and the divots are too deep. So this is good for learning to play in the wind and a wonderful way to work on your basic swing.
When Its Breezy, Time To Swing Easy
There is a tendency to swing harder in the wind. While it takes mental discipline, the best approach is to swing with less swing speed and focus on solid contact. Ever notice how some of your best shots seemed almost effortless? Use a relaxed, slower tempo, with more club (less loft) into the wind. It doesn’t matter if you take out a five iron for 130 yard shot. It’s much easier to hit as the ball will more naturally stay down and not balloon up. Also, for better players, try to move the ball with the direction of the wind versus trying to fight against it. Wind can be your friend, so swing easy when it’s breezy!
When at all possible try and let the wind be your friend. On down wind shots, especially tee shots try and get the ball up in the air a little higher than normal. It should give you more distance.
If you know how to curve the ball in both directions, again try to ride the wind. If you can’t just know that if the wind is blowing left to right and your natural shot shape is left to right it will curve more, but also should go a little farther. If the wind is right to left and your normal shot shape is left to right, the wind will knock it down and it won’t go as far as normal.
The hardest shot for most of us is when you are playing into a head wind. Most people just want to try and hit it harder, this is the last thing you want to do. By trying to hit it harder you are just going to spin the ball more which in turn will make it up shoot and get knocked down.
The best way to play back into the wind is to play the ball back in your stance a little; take one or two more clubs; make a 3/4 backswing and 3/4 finish; also try and swing just a little easier.
By playing it back in your stance with more club it should launch lower, but by swinging easier you are trying to take spin off of the ball which can help it bore through the wind more easily instead of up shooting when you swing to hard.
One reason why players struggle in the wind is because they don’t like playing in it, they have a bad attitude about it and try to change their game to deal with it.
The best advice I can off is DO NOT CHANGE THE WAY YOU PLAY. Trying to swing too hard into the wind or holding the ball up against the wind or playing the ball back in your stance and trying to hit punch shots are are bad ideas.
Realize that the harder you swing the more you will spin the ball and the more it will rise into the wind. Try making a full but slower swing into the wind, the ball will come out flatter with less spin.
Cross wind shots just aim more left or right and let the wind move it.
Down wind shots are going to have less spin and will get knocked down sooner.
Think you are a good wind player, enjoy playing in it, don’t change your game and rely on your short game and you’ll be fine playing in the wind.
Play the Conditions
It is best to not fight the conditions of the day that you can’t control. Learn to play your ball flight with different conditions. For example, if you are hitting into the wind, don’t swing harder, just take more club and make a balanced swing. Too many people try to fight the elements and end up hitting poor shots. It is also important to accept the conditions of the day and understand that everyone has to play through them. Evaluate the variables of each shot (wind, distance, ball flight, ect.) and commit to a club.
When Windy, Change Your Club; Not the Swing
I have a lot of my students ask me about different playing conditions. For instance, they ask me if their swing changes when it gets windy. My answer focuses around a golfing methodology that tries to keep as many variables the same in whatever environment you’re playing.
For instance, you could certainly put the ball further back in your stance if the wind is against you to keep the ball under the wind, but you’ve changed the bottom-out position at impact. What I like to do is simply change the “tool” in my “toolbox”. For instance, if an 8-iron goes 150 yards, and there is a strong prevailing wind coming straight at you, I simply take a 5-iron and swing the same swing. The 5-iron is made with less loft, so it will not go as high, but the player will get to keep the same swing fundamentals with every shot. When it’s breezy, change your club.
Playing in windy conditions
“When it’s breezy, swing easy”
Before you begin your round, try making full swings at 50% of your normal swing speed. You can increase the percentage of power until you find YOUR rhythm. Players tend to swing harder than usual in windy conditions. Do the opposite and you’ll really notice a difference in ball flight, direction, and your balance.
Growing up in it helps
Best advice is talk to and learn from people that grew up in windy areas. There is always the when its breezy swing easy train of thought, or play it back in your stance and hit it low. Both work but not everyone is comfortable seeing the ball back in their stance at address. Best advice I can give is practice is the wind. Try some different flights and see what works best for you.
Hit Longer Clubs Shorter Distances
Playing in the wind is a creative art form, oftentimes of just making your best guesses. But, there are proven strategies that are effective. A good method for many is that for every 10 mph wind, club up or down 1 club depending on if you’re playing into the wind or downwind. I think the best strategy most of the time when you’re hitting into a wind is to club up (maybe even more than 2 clubs) by taking a longer club (to keep the trajectory down to penetrate through the wind) and finesse those longer clubs shorter distances. So, practice on the range hitting your 200 yard club 150 yards and your 150 yard club 100 yards and so on. This will really help you gauge in your wind game. As for downwind, just club down with the 10 mph wind per club strategy.
Wind = Higher Scores
Understand all scores will be higher.
When wind is 10mph or stronger it changes the roll of a putted ball.
Drill- Go to center of putting green and putt a ball to all 4 corners of the green. This will help you adjust your feel for speed in all wind directions.
Remember (in making club selection)as Sam Snead said if the wind is not with you it is against you .
When it's breezy...Swing easy!
Take one more club into the wind and stay in balance…Down wind, take one less club and stay in balance…
DONT PANIC !
“OMG, It’s windy and I am a high ball hitter, I don’t have a chance today !” I think a lot of people think this way, and destroy the opportunity the embrace one of the many challenges of this special sport. Here are a few things that I recommend playing in the wind!
1. Grip down on the club !
2. Swing Low to Low – which basically means feel like the swing is short and wide backwards and forwards!
3. Take 2 more clubs to make up the distance, one for the shorter swing and one for the shorter club ,
4. Try to feel like the swing is more of a chest rotation movement, than a hands and arms swing!
Those should lower your flight, and give you some more control on windy days !
Let the wind be your friend!
In windy conditions, most amateurs try to fight the wind. They usually swing harder, it’s human nature. Into the wind, take more club and make a controlled 3/4 swing. You want less spin on the ball to cut thru the wind. Downwind you can hit it hard to get it up in the wind and carry as the ball will spin more. Regardless, let the wind be your friend and allow it to move your shot. Play for the movement, don’t fight it! A more skilled player can hold the ball against the wind with movement but the majority of players would be better off making allowances for the wind.
Practice Makes Permanent
My advice for all my players is to always hit punch and 3/4 shots in practice. This normally has a few benefits for timing and contact help. The other side of this is always having a shot to hit in windy weather.
Hit it Low into the Wind
Well in todays golf we are told to hit it as far as possible. This is great, but into the wind this is NOT GOOD. You could SPIN it too much and could be knocked out the air. So how do we improve upon this?? Take ONE Extra club, place the golf ball in the MIDDLE of your STANCE, GRIP DOWN on the golf club, put a little weight on front foot, lastly HOLD your finish lower. You should see your ball flight lower, it’s also a good way to improve your ball contact.
Windy Golf Course Strategy
Try to swing in slow motion. Will help tempo and reduce ball spin.
Get your putting stance wider and stable. The slightest movements kill any putt
PGA Golf Professional
Hobe Sound, FL