Playing every Sunday morning with your buddies is a great way to spend a few weekend hours. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, smiles all round. But not so good during the winter months. So, what can you do to improve your chances of winning that Sunday morning fourball when it’s blowing a gale and the drizzle is steady?
Are you kidding me? Practice in the winter? Winter is a great time to get some practice in. Instead of lazing around at home, get yourself down to the golf range. But, when you get there, don’t do what nearly all golfers do, which is belt 100 balls into the far distance, especially the last one, because they want to end on a high. No, the best way to practice at the range is to hit every ball with focus and with purpose.
Start with a pitching wedge. It doesn’t matter what distance you get with a normal swing; your aim is to hit 10 shots as close to the 100-yard flag as possible. Choke down a little if you feel it will help. Choking down will probably mean you won’t hit the ball as far but in the cold winter months, the ball doesn’t travel as far anyway.
Next, try your 7-iron. Your only objective is to hit 10 shots as close to the 150-yard flag as possible. Focus on that, nothing else. Give yourself a clap on the back each time you get close. Give your 3-iron a go and try and get 10 balls as close as possible to the 200-yard flag. You get the idea. Always hit balls with purpose and focus. Don’t waste them.
There are also many things you can do to practice at home. Putting practice in the warmth of your home can be very enjoyable and useful. There are no humps and bumps to contend with but getting the speed or pace right is hugely important. You could invest in a small artificial turf mat for practicing full swings in your garden. Don’t go hitting balls over the fence though – you don’t want to upset the folks next door.
Keep the bad weather out
It will really improve your winter round of golf if you can stay dry and comfortable. If you have made it to the golf course, wear a woolly hat and weather-proof or water-proof clothing. Carry a spare glove in your bag, your first one will get wet and that’s not nice! Take a golfing umbrella with you in case it rains, and you can keep your towel dry hanging under the umbrella. Good tip. Buy some winter mittens; it’s very important to keep your hands warm.
You’ll also benefit from a decent pair of waterproof golf shoes – essential in bad weather. Golfers don’t always bother to do this but it’s important to warm up before any round of golf, especially when it’s cold. Try to arrive at the club an hour early to do some stretching exercises, swing a long club around your body parallel to the ground. And do some practice pitching and putting to get used to the speed of the greens in the bad weather. Walk rather than take a buggy, you’ll stay warmer and looser.
Look after your equipment
How is a golf ball effected by the cold, wind and rain? Average golfers don’t think about the right sort of ball to use in bad weather, however there are some things to consider. A harder compression golf ball will fly further, with less backspin and go further on hitting the ground. Use a yellow ball. Why? You can work that one out yourself! Use two balls and alternate them on each hole. Keep the spare in your pocket, a warm ball will fly further.
Keep your ball clean. Your ball won’t run as far in winter conditions, so it is important to take the right club and to know the right distance to your target (a rangefinder would help with this massively!) After each shot, get in the habit of cleaning the grooves on the club you just used. It will get muddy more quickly in bad weather.
At the end of that cold and wet winter round, be the first to buy the drinks in the 19th hole – get the smiles back on your buddies’ faces! And enjoy your winter golf.