Not all of us live where the weather is warm and sunny 365 days a year, but loving golf means never putting your clubs into storage. Continuing to play all year round will keep your skills sharp and maximize the investment you put into your game during the golf season. And, while playing through the off-season is accompanied by numerous advantages like fewer players on the course and lower greens fees, golfing in cold and inclement weather also presents one of the game’s greatest challenges. It can be downright difficult to become comfortable playing golf in low temperatures, rain, wind, or even snow, but managing these conditions is in no way impossible.
We’ve established that you aren’t the type of golfer who simply gives up and packs it in at the first sign of bad weather, you are a die hard, but what are you to do? Based on the experiences of seasoned year round players, we’ve put together some recommendations and advice that you can incorporate into your trusted pre-round routine during the winter months. Cold and tough weather conditions should never keep you on the couch when you’d rather be on the course!
Prior To The Round – Cold Weather Prep
Your journey to cold weather golfing success begins long before your arrive at the course. Check the weather report the night before and determine to what extent the elements may factor into your round. Always plan for the worst case because if it happens, you’ll want to be ready. The most essential preparation you can make is properly outfitting yourself. When faced with cold or harsh weather it is best to avoid wearing cotton and dress in layers.
Dressing in layers instead of one thicker coat gives you the versatility to remove one or more layers as conditions change. A snug-fitting thermal base layer can really lock in body heat and will not inhibit your range of motion. For a free and easy swing outer layers should fit neither too tightly, nor too loosely. Pullovers, sweaters, and vests are smart as they provide warmth and in many cases wind protection. They can also be easily shed should you get too warm.
Make sure your trusty rain gear (and an umbrella that can handle high winds) is packed and ready to go as well. There are all kinds of rain coats, pants and full suits with varying levels of waterproof protection. In the case of rain, their utility is obvious, but rain gear can also help as an additional outer layer in the extreme cold and wind.
Pay special attention to your feet, hands, and head. Wear thicker thermal socks to keep your feet warm and pack an extra pair just in case you end up with completely soaked feet in the middle of your round.
Along with extra clothing interfering with your swing, being able to grip the club is the primary challenge of playing in the cold and wet. Your hands are your connections to the golf club, and keeping the feeling in your fingers is the key to maintaining proper feel and finesse. Invest in both a pair of cold weather and rain grip gloves. If you are still having trouble keeping your hands warm, hand warmers will help a great deal.
Lastly, ditch your typical ball cap and opt for a warmer winter hat instead. Covering your ears and head will keep the amount of body heat that exits out your noggin to a minimum.
Arrival At The Course – Preparing For Your Round
Now that you’re clothing and gear is locked and loaded, it’s time to crunch your way to the practice green, the range, and prepare for your round. Take extra care and time to stretch in the cold. Getting loose can take longer than normal and the risk of injury is greater. You’ll be pounding your irons and wedges into frozen, hard packed turf all day, so don’t forget to loosen up your wrists and forearms.
Get a feel for the course before you attack it. Take note of the green speeds on the practice green. A more controlled swing will work to your advantage in the cold. Your back and shoulder muscles operate in better sync, and will help you make consistent contact swinging through a lot of layers. Focus on smooth, even strokes as versus trying to maximizing distance at the range.
Teeing Off – On Course
You’re finally ready to hit the first tee and prove your true mettle as a year round golfer. Here are a few final thoughts to keep in mind out in the elements:
Your golf ball isn’t going to fly quite as far in a cold weather environment (especially if raining or windy), even on purely struck shots. Avoid swings that require large divots, as the turf isn’t going to react in the same way you’re accustomed to in warmer temperatures. Try to pick the ball more to avoid mishits as well as painful slams into the ground. Your muscles also won’t be expanding and contracting at their normal, optimized levels, further hindering distances. Keep this change in mind and consider hitting an extra half or even full club.
Lastly, remember to hydrate well and often. It’s easy to forget about drinking water and replacing electrolytes, as cold beverages sound less refreshing when your teeth are chattering. However, given the thick socks, gloves, stocking cap, and extra layers, the body heat you’re creating and preserving can cause you to sweat more which will require you replenish liquids to stay on top of your game.
So fear not, while golfing in cold and bad weather can be difficult, there is no need to be intimidated by the harshest of elements, in order to succeed all you need is some strong preparation and the right gear.
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