Don't Get Blown Away
By Snyper on 5/24/10
Matt Snyder is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Spring is a season of crazy weather. One of the biggest challenges that Mother Nature can throw at us during this time of year is the wind. After playing 54 holes of golf in nearly hurricane conditions this week, I thought it would be a good time to look at some of the keys to finding success when the wind is howling.

First of all, you should realize that the natural tendency of all players is to rush their game when they play in the wind. This is true also when playing in the rain. Nature's forces have a way of convincing us to hurry up and get our round over with so that we can get back inside where we belong. If you are going to play well in the wind, you have to be able to maintain your natural rhythm and routine. For example, you cannot alter your number of practice swings or take less time than you normally do to read the greens. If anything, while avoiding slow play, you should take a few more seconds than normal to think about your shots, as the wind is quick to maximize your mistakes. Stay in your rhythm and make good decisions about each shot that you take and you’ll be set up for playing well in spite of the adverse conditions.

I believe that it is better for mid to high handicap players to just deal with the effects of the wind on their normal ball flight and shape as apposed to attempting to alter their shots in hopes of success.
On the technical side of things, it is always better to be able to keep the ball low on windy days for all the obvious reasons. Now, before I offer any technical suggestions, I think it is important to note that if you are a 12 handicap or higher, you should probably just ignore the technicalities. I believe that it is better for mid to high handicap players to just deal with the effects of the wind on their normal ball flight and shape as apposed to attempting to alter their shots in hopes of success. With that said, keeping the ball low is most easily achieved by keeping the ball further back in your stance than you normally do. Additionally, choosing to use an extra club and playing more of a three quarter punch shot with an abbreviated and low follow through can help you drive the ball low and hard through the wind. If you have the ability to shape your shots, it is always best to shape your shot against the wind. Too many times, when a player tries to ride the wind with a cut or a draw, they end up overplaying the shot. It is just too hard to judge exactly how much effect the wind is going to have on a shot that is shaped in the same direction as the wind. So, shape your shot against the wind and play for the final result to be a straight shot. Usually, the wind will win against the spin of your ball, but at least that only results in a slight variance from the plan. So, take dead aim and fight the wind with your shot shape.

Ok, back to things that everyone can do to be a better wind player. When judging the wind, you should always consider what will happen if you are wrong about the wind’s effect on your ball. For example, if there is trouble over the green and I’m hitting a shot against the wind, I want to make sure that if the wind stops, I am not hitting enough club to end up long and in the trouble. So, if that means only hitting one more club instead of two and missing the green a little short, so be it. You have to error on the side of safety when clubbing and shaping your shots in the wind, because there will be multiple times during every round when your calculations are incorrect. If those shots result in penalty strokes, the wind is going to get the best of your score. However, if those miscalculations only result in a chip out of the rough or a greenside bunker shot, you will live to play the
next hole giving back one stroke at the most.

You have to expect that some bad shots and even more bad breaks are going to happen over the course of the round.
This concept leads well into the last suggestion that I have for playing in the strong winds that are prevalent in the spring season. That suggestion is that you must remember that golf is not a game of perfect. You have to expect that some bad shots and even more bad breaks are going to happen over the course of the round. You are going to hit some shots that you think are great that are going to turn out much worse than that. The wind is going to blow and stop at the worst time every now and then. It is going to happen, but the key is that you don’t let those times ruin your round. Roll with the punches and do not get frustrated. Playing in the wind can be frustrating enough. You have to make a conscious effort to not let the weather get to you and just keep on grinding when a bad break or bad shot happens. Remember, mistakes are magnified, good shots are not always good, and even the pros struggle in the wind. So, relax and do your best to make good decisions as you navigate your way around the links. Keep in mind that you chose to pay good money to play your round, so don’t be in a rush to get the round over with. Maintain your rhythm and your patience to grind out a solid score in spite of Mother Nature's toughest test.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
Agustin says:
Nay wind, nay golf.
Bryan K says:
Good article taking a slightly different approach than most wind related tips. Any tips on how to keep one's balance through a swing when the wind is gusting over 50 mph?
activesense says:
I always look for that right to left gust, just as my ball starts to slice.
dottomm says:
I am a high handicapper. (24) On a lark I went out to play 9 holes alone in some pretty windy conditions last week. I felt like a fool standing on the 1st tee as one of only 4 people on the course. The wind was howling at me head on, blowing my hat off my head twice etc.
"This is crazy!" I told myself before swinging. It was so windy, I half expected the ball would blow back and maybe even land behind me. Anyways with nothing to lose... I took a very easy swing at the ball. My jaw just about smothered my toes as I watched my ball go 200yds down the middle. I hit the ball longer and straighter into the wind on the rest of the holes, better than if it was a calm day.
Bryan K says:
I played in heavy wind (again) last night. In fact, most of my rounds over the past couple of weeks have been in heavy wind. I tried hard to keep my tempo through the round, but I found it hard to keep my balance during my backswing. It was especially hard with the wind coming from my right (which would mean it was in my face at address).

I think that's the hardest part about playing in the wind for me. I hurry through my backswing because if I don't, I'll be unable to keep my shoulder height. I ended up topping the ball a couple of times yesterday, which is something I rarely do, simply because I was subconsciously trying to keep my balance. But I concentrated on my tempo the entire round, and even though I didn't feel like I shot very well, I hit my handicap.
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