Playing In The Cold
By birdieXris on 11/2/10
We asked for readers to send in blog posts- and Chris Embardino didn't disappoint. These articles continue to keep coming in and I want to encourage you guys to keep writing! The feedback and new perspectives are fantastic. Chris covers the topic of playing golf as the weather is colder and the days shorter. Sweet!

Here in the northeast, the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting downright chilly. If you're like me though, you play whenever you can all year round. While there is a "season" to golf and you may or may not have to worry about your handicap in your area of the country, here's a few of my tips on how to play your best over the winter when only the nuts come out to play.

1) Play a lower compression (softer) ball. It doesn't matter what your price range is because all manufacturers have them. That may mean changing from that Top Flite gamer to a Srixon Trispeed or, Dare i say it, - Play a ladies ball. Let's face it.... balls get cold in winter (stop laughing), but seriously even a well struck shot is going to sting like the dickens (ok that's enough of that). By playing a lower compression ball you can counteract this a little bit and spare your fingers and hands the pain of hitting that "brick shot". It will also help you hit truer distances.

2) Dress in thin layers. Dont' underestimate the power of long johns. Dress in layers to insulate while still retaining your freedom of movement. My favorite winter gear goes like this: Long johns from the neck down. On top: a long sleeve cotton shirt, medium sweater or fleece shirt (preferably with a high neck), then top it off with a windproof/waterproof shell. Bottoms are normally a pair of flannel PJ bottoms under a pair of dockers. Winter socks and whatever footwear i see fit to swing in. I try to keep my footwear waterproof too because as the ground warms up, it sweats too sometimes. Top it all off with a knit hat or ear warmers. That's good down to snowy weather (break out the orange balls!)

3) Ditch the "winter gloves". Manufacturers have made "winter golf gloves" in the past. Ditch them. Use your regular glove and keep a few chemical hand warmers handy. The same ones you would use for hunting. Throw them in your front pockets and that's where your hands should stay when you're walking. If you drive, a pair of mittens with the hand warmers in them will be just as good. Your hands are only out for about 30 seconds at a time. This won't hurt your feel for the shot at hand and you'll have much better control over the short chips and putts.

4) Swing easy with more club. While it's not a good idea during the season, you'll thank me later. During the cold months, the ball won't fly as far. On top of that, if you hack at it you may end up hurting your wrists on the semi frozen ground. Swing shallow, swing easy, and make good contact. You'll be surprised at how well you swing the club next season because of it too.

5) Allow for the bounce. Thats in regard to the ball AND your club.The ground is hard. Some days, harder than others. Pay attention on your first couple shots of the day to see how far they run and how they bounce. You may find yourself playing links golf no matter what wedges you're using. The club will bounce too, so make sure you play the ball a little back in your stance and nip it with a shallow swing.

6) Hydrate. It's cold, but your'e still walking and working hard playing. You'll be sweating at some point, if only a little. I'd recommend something warm like coffee or hot cocoa as well as water or gatorade. The warm will be nice of course, but the water or gatorade is the IMPORTANT part.

7) Protect your skin. The last piece of advice i have is no different than during the regular golf season. Protect your skin. I use some lotion about 30 minutes before i go on the course just to add some protection to the skin. If you're fair skinned, you may even want a little sunblock. Just because it's not hot, doesn't mean the sun, wind, and cold aren't going to completely batter every area of exposed skin - in this case - your face.

Winter (at least winter golf) is soon upon us. Hopefully you're in an area that has courses open year round as long as there's no snow laying. Thank goodness for that here in PA, otherwise i might go crazy... er.

This was written by Chris Embardino, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

photo source

[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
Well written post on a timely subject. My attire is similar although I often wear long johns and my breathable rain pants rather than regular pants when it is windy. Generally I consider the season over once the greens freeze although I have played the occasional round in snow showers or with concrete putting surfaces.
Bryan K says:
They don't let us play when the ground is frozen around here.

A couple of things I'd like to point out...

I can't wear cotton when I sweat. That means that cotton is not acceptable on the golf course for me whether it is winter or summer with the exception of all-weather gloves.

But don't completely discount the gloves when it's cold. I wear a pair of Wilson all-weather gloves when it's cold outside. I still get good feel with them, and they keep my hands warm.
OffCoursegolfer says:
Nice post. I grew up in NJ so cold weather golf was a norm, especially when I wanted to get a jump on my spring competition. In scotland they actually use a kind of pocket shag in the winter because the grass doesn't come back when you divot in the winter. Also, my course closes, so I just take my off-course balls, (almostGolf or Callaway...but they aren't as good) and play around the neighborhood. The off course balls are much easier to hit and don't hurt my hands. Plus my wife joins me for my 45 minute sojourns.
srogers13 says:
Being a native Floridian, I do not feel comfortable playing in long pants. I always wear shorts when I play, but I do layer up my upper body. But I gotta wear shorts.
lcgolfer64 says:
Great article! Trying to get in as much golf as possible up here in the frozen tundra. We've had some pretty nice weather here for November - 50's and lots of sun, but it's always inevitable that the snow is coming. Layers and fast-paced walking from shot to shot helps keep the blood circulating well. Playing the MC Lady currently through the fall, softer compression ball and cheap!
dartboss04 says:
Great post. It was one day too late for me. I played Lake of Isles in CT yesterday. It was pretty miserable when I was on the practice range, so much so that I dropped too much for a winter hat in the pro shop and almost purchased these ridiculously sized titleist mittens. It warmed up once I got out there. I can't stand wearing bulky long sleeves. I go with a tight thermal for the the inner layer and a short sleeve outer shirt.
cshelton17 says:
We have played winter golf for the past couple of years(last year being the exception, lots of snow and ice). A cart heater and cart cover make the cold more bearable. This is a little more pricey but well worth it on those cold windy days.
sepfeiff says:
Good article BX.
birdieXris says:
I'm playing on Nov 13th. hopefully i won't have to use any of my own advice.
Kurt the Knife says:
still near 80 in NCal.
Maybe I'll read this one again in January.
legitimatebeef says:
They're not long johns they're thermal undergarments!!! Avoid cotton, the silk ones are the best, so comfortable and lightweight. Mobility is so important when you're layering up for golf. I usually wear on top a thermal longsleeve, microfiber fleece vest topped with some kind of windbreaker, then I'm good for down to 45 degrees or so, and still able to swing pretty normal with this getup.

40F with calm winds is my cold weather threshold. Although weeks without golf can do funny things. Suffering severe withdrawal, I've played in as low as 35* temps. :/ But in general I try to enjoy winter in NYC the winters aren't that bad and barring snow accumulation, courses stay open all year. I love the emptier courses and faster pace of play. It's almost worth it.
DougE says:
I wrap up and warm 5 or 6 balls in a heating pad immediately before the round (completely legal as long as you don't do it DURING the round), then unplug the pad and stuff it into my bag with all the balls still in it. I can usually tee off within 10 minutes, as the course is close by and there is never a wait to play when it's cold. The balls stay nice and warm for a good portion of the round. Try it. It works.
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