Adjust Your Expectations
If you are fortunate enough to live in a climate where the golf season really never ends, then count yourself among the lucky ones. Living in South Texas my whole life, it is easy to forget that many of our customers at SCOR Golf and many of my readers here at WedgeGuy are about to put away the sticks for the next few months and just tough it out. For you guys and ladies, I’ll write regularly over the next few months about drills you can do during the off season to give your golf game a head start when the snow melts and the sun comes out again.

But today, I’m addressing something that all of the rest of us need to keep in mind as we begin to play golf in cooler temperatures, winds that blow from the opposite direction and on courses that either have grass that goes dormant or are over-seeded with winter rye or bent mix.

The game is going to be harder until Spring, so adjust your expectations when you go out. You’ll probably be playing a little less often and the shorter days are going to cut into your afternoon practice sessions (if you do those!) You’ll have more clothes on which restricts your swing, and the courses are simply playing harder than they did in the summer, most of the time anyway.

So, here are a few keys to playing in the off season, but the most important one is to relax your expectations of yourself and your golf game. So what if your scores are a little higher over the next few months? At least you’re out there playing, while our friends in the north are cooped up inside.
  1. The ball doesn’t go as far in winter. The cooler air and the usually softer ground will limit how far you will hit shots with all your clubs. That’s also a function of the extra clothes you have to wear which restricts your swing. And you’re probably not playing as much which affects your golf muscles. Don’t fight it, just adjust your thinking and shot planning about a half club backward and go play.

  2. “Par” changes daily. If you are teeing it up in 40+ degree temperatures, and have a chilly north wind blowing, shooting your usual score just isn’t very likely to happen. That long par 4 that plays downwind in the summer with a 5-iron approach is probably unreachable now, so just accept that it’s more like a short par 5 today and play it that way. All that matters is the score in relation to your buddies, right?

  3. Your feel is not as good. The colder air affects your nerve endings when your hands are a little cold. So your touch with your short shots and putts will not be as good as usual. Go with it. And if you play on greens that are not over-seeded, as we play at our club, the greens are going to be even faster and trickier. Once again, the course is playing harder while you’re skills are diluted a bit. Just accept it.
So, have fun this winter and get in all the golf you can, but realize that your scores are going to climb for the next few months, most likely. But at least you’re playing!! Think about our online golf buddies in Minnesota and other “hinterlands” who won’t give you an ounce of sympathy when you whine about the conditions.
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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
That's an awful way to look at it. Sure there's other variables but if you know how to overcome them, then you should be fine. You can still shoot great scores in colder weather, you just go about doing it differently. If you're going to blame differences in climate and weather for bad scores, you might as well not play in anything outside of perfect weather. It's obviously not your ball striking or physical conditioning. I put extra stretches on the pre-round schedule, along with a few extra warm up balls. I also play slightly softer balls in the winter to compensate for the cold weather and diminished distance. Pocket warming packs keep my balls and hands warm during the round when not in use. If you adjust and say "i'm not going to shoot my usual score" then you've already ruined your round mentally. Hit the bar, IMO.
GolfSmith7 says:
@birdieXris, he is probably trying some reverse psychology lol, seriously I like to think more positive and except whatever the round turns out to be. I do make adjustments for the winter.

@wedgeguy, I just ordered a set of five wedges does that mean I can't judge how they improve my game because it is winter? lol Can't wait to get them in, make them the best I ordered the 44, 48, 52, 56, 60.
unmnorth says:
yesterday I took the so called double bogey challenge with a 7 wood, 8 iron and putter. The goal for every hole was double bogey. The goal was to 3 putt every green. The size of the cup for the first putt was 20 ft wide, for the second was 6 ft wide. It took me a total of 15 putts. My score was 48 instead of the 52 and 53 last week. It is interesting how a change in expectation can do wonders!
legitimatebeef says:
Adjust expectations? Never!! As long as the course is playing fair my expectations are about the same. The only thing I expect is that I might have to try a little harder to get the same results. Cold makes everything tougher but there's usually still a way to score. The first time I ever broke 80 was on a late December day in NYC.
Rob64 says:
I personally try to lower my handicap every time I'm on the golf course now... I just can't help myself. I don't care if it's cold, wet, windy etc. If it's cold wear more clothing, If you can't hit as far use more club. I just had my best score ever yesterday in cold wet windy weather. I shot level par for the first time ever and I'm a 10 handiacapper. It's all about trying your best!
jpjeffery says:
Either this theory is, as I think you Americans say, a load of baloney, or it's working.

Saturday last week I scored 51 over nine holes where my previous best was 54. Yesterday I scored 46 on the same track. Both times in cool, damp (foggy/misty) conditions.

Something's working...
DougE says:
My swing is greatly affected by uncomfortably old weather. Either I can't get loose or I've got on so many layers on my swing is definitely restricted a little. Either way, the precision required to make a perfect swing is slightly off. I still hit the ball okay, but can rarely make that perfect strike I can often make under better conditions. And, in the cold, I can really FEEL how imperfect any off-center contact is. Ouch! Goes right through you. Played over the weekend in what felt like 35 degree temps. My distance off the tee and my irons was way shorter than normal. Played an extra club in most situations. Shot a couple strokes higher than normal.
DougE says:
Oops. The weather wasn't "old," it was "cold." I'm old. Freudian slip I guess.
Matt McGee says:
I played in 39 degrees with a 30 mph wind last weekend. My group had to play the back nine twice because the snow hadn't melted off the front. I shot 15 strokes above my handicap, and had a good time. I'll worry about my handicap next spring. Golfing is better than not golfing.
nswynnerton says:
Gotta throw in with Terry on this one (I'm also from South Texas and what he says is true).
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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