It happens every once in a while. Your beautiful day of golf has started to get dark and gloomy as the rain and wind startup. You’re playing the round of your life, but the course conditions keep getting worse and worse. So how do you keep playing at a high level? It’s unfortunate, but you’re not going to have perfect conditions every time you play. Playing in a wide variety of weather conditions is essential when trying to master the sport.
How to Know if You Can Continue Playing In Poor Conditions
Occasionally, course conditions can get to a point where your round may be postponed or suspended until conditions improve. Below is a list of possible reasons why golf play may need to be stopped out on the course:
- Did you hear a siren? This usually means that the course is unplayable due to lightning in the area or excessive rain so you will need to head back to the pro shop
- Is there standing water on the green
- Is there standing water on most fairway
If you are playing a casual round, you can quit at any time and head back to the pro shop to receive a raincheck for the holes that you did not get to play. If you are playing in a tournament or outing, you must continue to play until either the course or outing coordinator deems the weather “too bad” to play in. This is why it is best to learn how to play in all types of weather conditions!
To play golf in bad weather, you will need to make minor adjustments in your game to compensate for the poor course conditions. This article will teach how to play in rainy, windy and cold weather conditions!
Playing in the rain is pretty common occurrence out on a golf course, and you will have to learn how to adjust your game to avoid complications.
You’re going to want rain equipment for when the weather gets bad. Make sure that you have:
- Rain Suit
- Golf Bag Rain Cover
- Water Proof Golf Shoes
- Rain Golf Gloves (Game Changer!)
- Golf Towel
- Extra Golf Balls
Having these items in your bag will make playing in the rain a lot less intimidating, and you will feel more confident in poor weather! Check out my recommended products page here so you can double check that you are playing the right equipment!
Know the Rules When there is Bad Weather
If you are playing in a tournament or outing, it is imperative that you know the local rules of the course if the conditions are poor. Most courses allow a Lift, Clean and Place rule if the conditions are very wet and your ball is “plugged.”This rule, however, is only allowed through the green. If your ball is on the green, you must first put a ball maker down and then repair the divot. To use the lift, clean and place rule:
- Put a tee down behind your ball
- Pick up your ball to clean
- Drop your ball as close to the divot as possible
- Hit your shot without penalty
To learn more about other golf rules, click here to view my full article on golf rules every golfer needs to know!
If your ball is in a large puddle created from the rain we call this standing water. Don’t worry; you don’t have to play from there! Here are the steps if your golf ball is in standing water:
- Pick up your ball
- Clean off the dirt
- Go to the nearest point of relief: NO CLOSER TO THE HOLE
- You get ONE club length from the relief
- Hit your shot without penalty
Hitting Shots in Wet Conditions
Now that you have your rain equipment, and you know the rules of wet weather, How do you hit shots in the rain? Is there any difference?
1. Keep Your Weight Over The Golf Ball
Because of the wetness, the ground is going to come up faster than when it is dry. The most common fault that occurs in wet conditions are chunked (fat) golf shots because of a swing that is:
- Too steep on the downswing
- Weight is behind the ball at impact
To get consistent contact in the rain, you must keep your weight over the golf ball and rotate the hips without “sliding” back. A good way to prevent this lateral slide is to put more weight than usual on the front leg (About 75% on your front side)
2. Drag the Club Back Further
Dragging the club during the backswing will create a more shallow angle coming down to the golf ball. To do this:
- Get into your golf stance
- On your backswing, drag your club about two feet on the ground before starting your backswing
- Remember to keep your weight over the golf ball!
Dragging the club will allow for a longer swing and prevent coming down too steep at the ball, avoiding chunk shots
3. Swing Softer and Club Up
You will lose some distance to your shots playing in the rain as there will be little roll when your ball lands. To compensate for this lack of distance:
- Swing softer to prevent overswinging. Swinging around 80% of your normal swing speed will help with consistency. This will help you focus more on keeping your weight over the golf ball! (this must be important ????)
- Club Up, one club to allow you to reach the same distance you would in normal conditions.
Putting on a wet green will be a slower speed than normal. Plan on trying to putt two feet past the hole to compensate for the wet greens. Also, remember to put your ball marker down and clean your golf ball as dirt will affect the ball’s roll. To learn more about putting etiquette and ball markers, click here for a full explanation.
Another unavoidable obstacle in golf is the wind! Some courses will be more susceptible to wind depending on how flat the course is and its geographic location. Wind of 5mph will affect your golf ball distance by about 5 yards in the direction it is blowing. So with this knowledge, wind blowing in your face at 10mph can potentially take away 10 yards of distance! That is almost an entire club difference!
Test the Direction of the Wind
- Before your shot, pick up some blades of grass and drop them in front of you to which direction they move
- Look at the flagstick and observe which way the flag is moving.
- Look at the weather forecast and observe the projected wind speed and direction for the day
It’s always a good idea to look at the weather “before” your round to see how much wind is expected throughout the day. Is the wind headwind (coming against you) crosswind (going across you) or tailwind (going with you)?
Hitting Shots in Headwind
Hitting shots into the wind can cause a lot of confusion and frustration because of how it affects your distance. So to make up for that loss of distance, you have to: Club up & Swing Lighter “When it’s breezy, swing easy.” Just like hitting shots in the rain, clubbing up will help you gain back the distance you will lose going against the wind.
Rule of thumb:
- 5-10mph- Club up one club (7 iron to a 6 iron)
- 7-15 mph- Club up two clubs
- 15-20 mph- Club up 3 clubs
You have to swing softer into the wind so that you avoid putting too much spin on the ball. The added spin of swinging too hard would cause the ball flight to be higher and therefore cause a lack of distance which we are trying to avoid!
Keep the Ball Low
Keeping your golf ball low will increase your roll and avoid high pockets of air that would cause a decrease in distance. To hit the ball low follow these quick tips:
- When hitting off the tee box, tee the golf ball lower This allows you to make contact more on the bottom of your club which creates a lower ball flight
- Play the golf ball in the back of your stance. This change will cause a steeper angle down at the golf ball and promote a lower ball flight.
- Shorten your follow through so that the arms are away from the body. The stopping of momentum will cause the ball to stay low as you are taking away some of the acceleration of your swing.
Hitting Shots in Crosswind
We know that 5mph of wind causes a change in golf ball distance by about 5 yards. So wind is going across the hole, we need to adjust where we aim our shot.
- If the wind is coming left to right, Aim Left
- If the wind is coming right to left, Aim Right
There is no need to club up or down in a crosswind. The amount of wind will determine how far you need to aim in a specific direction
Hitting Shots in Tailwind
Everyone’s favorite wind shot! Hitting shots with a tailwind will increase the distance of your shots. Be careful though! We don’t want to hit the ball too far and out of play. To hit a shot when the wind is behind you, we use the same rules as before. The only difference is that we club down to increase the loft of the club.
Rule of thumb
- 5-10mph- Club down one club (7 iron to an 8iron)
- 7-15 mph- Club down two clubs
- 15-20 mph- Club down 3 clubs
Driving in Tailwind
Driving in tailwind is always fun. If you can get the golf ball into the air, you can see substantial gains in your distance off the tee! Who wouldn’t want that? Before you hit though, determine how much landing room you have in the fairway and how many hazards are out on the hole. If there are few hazards or obstructions, follow these steps to get maximum distance!
- Tee the ball up slightly higher than normal
- Play the ball off the front toe
- Use a wider stance
- Tilt your back shoulder down somewhat more than usual
- Drag the club back 2 feet before starting the backswing
- Keep your head down
- Swing Away!
Making these adjustments will allow you to come slightly “up” at the golf ball and add more loft to your drive. The more loft you add when the wind is behind you, the more the wind will carry your ball! To learn about how to add more distance to your drives, click here to see my full article on how to impress your friends off the tee!
So by now, we should know how to play in rainy and windy conditions! But what about cold weather? For many golfers, the golfing season starts to get cold during the later months of the year. This doesn’t have to stop you though! Plenty of golfers choose to play in the colder months when temperatures start to drop!
What You’ll Need
To play golf in colder weather, you are going to want to have the following golf equipment so that you won’t be limited on the course:
- Hand Warmers
- Golf beanie or earmuffs
- Winter Golf Gloves
- Golf Cart Cover
- Low Compression golf balls
- Compression Under Shirt
- Rain Pants
- Golf Socks
I have a full article here you can look at where I go into detail about what specific products are best in the cold weather!
Different Playing Conditions
Playing golf in cold weather will be different than normal playing conditions.
- The ground will be harder so you will have to make sure that you are hitting down at the golf ball to compress the golf ball.
- The ball will not travel as far because golf balls become denser as molecules in the air grow closer together.
- The greens will likely have been aerated for the winter (holes punctured around the grass to prevent the ground from freezing)
- Leaves on the ground (Depending on how quickly the grounds crew blows off the course)
How to Hit Shots in the Cold
To score well in colder weather, you have to take into consideration that your distance is not going to be the same as when it is warm outside. This is why I tell my students to club up with every shot they hit. For example, if you usually hit a 7 iron, hit a 6 iron instead. Next, because the ground will be harder in cold weather, play the golf ball slightly higher in your stance. This simple change of moving the golf ball more towards your front foot creates a more “shallow” angle of attack and create a sweeping swing that will help avoid digging into the ground.
Purchase Low Compression Golf Balls
As mentioned above, your golf ball isn’t going to fly as far because of the compression of molecules as the weather gets colder. So to compensate, look into getting low compression golf balls. My choice is the Wilson Duo which has a very low compression rate of 29!
Grass doesn’t grow as fast in the colder months, so golf courses don’t need to mow the greens as often. This causes the speed of the greens to be slightly slower when putting. Most courses will have started the process of aerating the greens which will also slow down your putting speed.
So to compensate for the slower speeds:
- Aim about 2 feet past the hole to make sure your ball has enough speed to make it to the hole.
- Take your time on short putts. Sometimes the holes from aeration will bounce your ball in different directions so take your time on smaller putts using a firmer putting stroke.
To learn some putting secrets from the pros, take a look at my full article here.
Playing golf in bad weather doesn’t have to hinder your performance out on the course!
- Pay attention to local rules and available relief options you can use in your round
- Check your golf bag to make sure you have the right equipment for different weather conditions
- Take note of the wind and make adjustments based on its direction
- Use the swing tips from this post to make minor changes that improve your ball striking in different course conditions
- Bundle up when its cold and use low compression golf balls to make up for the lack of distance
To avoid a lot of the frustrations of playing bad weather, try to plan and look at the weather forecasts before your round. This way you will know which type of equipment you may need and what to expect out on the course. If you are a beginning golfer and are curious about what equipment you may need, click here to view my recommended golf gear to get started.
Bad weather is sometimes unavoidable on the golf course but with the right techniques and preparation, your game will be less affected, and you can continue playing at a high level! Heck, You Might Even Enjoy It!