I grew up playing golf in the midwest and east coast. Our golf seasons were short so we did everything possible to extend the playing days. One tournament during high school in upstate New York they snowplowed the fairways. I am not kidding … and it was a really nice country club. In my home state of Texas, we can pretty much play year-round. It is always surprising to me when my buddies complain about it being too hot or too cold or too wet. It’s an outdoor sport, people! Get the right golf gear on, grab those sticks and hit the links! You might have to wait for the frost delay to pass but it will be well worth it. Here are some tips from the many hindrances I’ve been through over the years.
Bulk is bad.
There was a time I could throw a bulky winter coat on, any old hat and gloves, and swing like it was summer. As I’ve progressed in years, the first tee is usually a very tight swing even when wearing shorts and a light golf shirt. When it’s rainy, cold or both, you have to bundle up. Not all winter and rain golf gear offers proper movement to swing.
When it’s rainy and cold your swing will already need to be modified for several reasons. The lie of the ball, the wind, and other weather factors can call for clubbing up, shortening the backswing, and hitting knock down shots. You won’t need a full range of motion for these shots but you have to be comfortable.
This might sound like Captain Obvious. Multiple, thin layers go a long, long way to make the inclement weather days an enjoyable day on the course. Today’s athletic materials are amazing but some manufacturers still make some pretty bulky stuff. I’ve had the best experience with Under Armour and Adidas but there are many others making thin, warm, dry performance golf gear.
For me, it’s all about the lower body. I actually wear thin, warm weather pants by Adidas with form-fitting long underwear from Academy Sports. That way I am super warm but flexible. I don’t know about you but when my lower body is warm everything else feels better. If I need to throw on the rain pants, I can still use the lighter, warm-weather type without adding too much bulk.
A set of winter golf gloves will help with hand comfort. You can get mittens for in-between shots but I’ve found that to really slow me down. So I take hand warmers in my pockets and warm my hands between shots that way.
Keep your upper body warm with stretchy, form-fitting layers to round it out so you have maximum motion needed at the top of your swing and room left over for a good follow-through.
Take care of your feet.
Long gone are the days of slip-on galoshes with spikes. I can’t tell you how many golfers come out in street shoes for inclement weather rounds. If you’re gonna play, invest in a good pair of weatherproof shoes. Low on budget? Hit the thrift stores for golf gear. Head to the back of the store and you won’t believe what people throw away that you can pick up for a few dollars. There’s no shame in that.
If your feet aren’t dry, warm and comfortable playing any sport, you will be miserable. Take the time to find the right pair of thin but warm socks. Thicker sounds better in cold but it can actually be worse once your feet start swelling, especially if you are a walker. Ski socks are great alternatives that are made out of really thin, warm materials. Hunting socks are another possibility.
Winter rules aren’t just for winter. Check with your pro shop to see if they are in effect. This can make the cold, wet day much more enjoyable and totally legit. Of course, I see a lot of players improving lies as if winter rules were in place all year! That’s cheating … for more details, read the USGA Rules of Golf. Or, better yet, download their awesome app so you have it with you when playing.
The maintenance crew and golf club are responsible for the overall shape of the course. As players, we are accountable for playing our part in caring for the course. This is all the more important during inclement weather.
With all that extra golf gear on you may be tempted to keep moving but there are some things that need to be attended to after each shot. There are some additional cautions that should also be watched out for when walking and driving the course.
Just like normal weather, always replace your divots in the fairway. Most courses provide sand on their carts. If not, do your best to use the grass removed from the shot to be placed back in the divot. Make sure this is done on the tee box on par 3s. When it’s wet the chance of hitting it fat increases and also does more damage to the course. This is important even when the grass becomes dormant.
On the greens, divots become even more prominent as the greens are typically softer. Be careful not to drag your feet when approaching the green and cross the fringe. Your shoes can do major damage and leave a mess for the groups behind you.
Make sure to bring that divot repair tool and keep it handy with all your other golf gear. It is a pain to get it out of pocket when you don’t want to remove gloves. I keep mine wrapped in a towel in the cart and have made it a habit to bring to the green. No divot tool? A tee will work fine. Just fix your divots!
Take care in replacing the flags as to not damage the cup. This happens sometimes but with the softer greens, it’s worth being a little more careful than usual. With today’s rules, you don’t even have to remove the flagstick for a put.
Even if your course doesn’t demand it, I suggest always following the 90-degree rule. Not sure what that is? Click Here To Read.
Some of this might sound really straightforward but even golfers that have been playing a long time don’t always prepare for inclement weather. The idea here is to plan ahead, invest in lightweight, form-fitting golf gear that will keep you warm and increase the enjoyment of the game year-round. No one wants to be playing while looking like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story.
All the best, jerry