Foul Weather Golf
I am finishing up a trip to the Richmond, VA area this weekend, and we played in a charity golf tournament at Trump National up by D.C. yesterday. Well, coming out of Texas where we have almost forgotten what “rain” is, I was overwhelmed by the amount of water this area has dealt with the past few months. As I was marveling at a completely washed out stone bridge, the club manager drove up and explained that they had had 11” in one day a week ago!!! We haven’t had that much rain in my part of Texas this whole year.
We played in a light drizzle to mist, and temps were in the high 50s, which made conditions challenging at the very least. I haven’t played golf in anything but shorts and lightweight shirt for months, so adapting to the long sleeve polo, vest and windshirt (which was all I had with me) was pretty tough. As we enter fall and press our golf as far into winter as we can, we’ll all be dealing with an increasing tough game. And adjustments are in order.
First of all, relax your expectations. This game is tough enough when you can swing freely and the temps are warm. Add in a chilly day, moisture in the air and a breeze, and your muscles just don’t perform as they did when it was in the 80s and 90s. Accept that. Your swing will be shorter and that affects your tempo and swing timing. Put some time in on the range to get your “new feel” for colder weather golf.
Then you have to factor in the bulk clothing aspect. When you put on a few layers to stay warm, it will also shorten your backswing and affect your rhythm and timing as well.
But the toughest condition for me to deal with yesterday was the softness of the turf. I had played a tough Rees Jones course on Sunday and struck the ball very well, so I felt good about playing in the tournament, even though it was a simple charity scramble. They had the range set up where we were hitting off mats, which I personally don’t like because they are so forgiving. But I was swinging well and hitting it nicely. Then we went to our assigned hole and teed off.
The first iron shot we had, I watched as the earth literally exploded in a shower of water and mud for each of the first three players. The red dirt was so saturated with rain that it squished under your feet and absolutely “ate” a golf club. There was no amount of bounce on any club that was going to reject from that. And it got to me. After a few very poor iron shots, I found myself trying to pick the ball cleanly, and things got worse. All in all, it was a terribly disappointing day for me, and I felt as if I had never played before.
So, the moral of this post is that you will find yourself in situations some days on the golf course where it just seems that the stars are aligned against you and you can’t do anything. My advice is to just accept that, keep on trying and make the best of it. That’s what I tried to do yesterday.
The whole day was made “worth it”, when we met Amanda, a brave little 9-year-old girl who has battled a rare form of bone cancer and has adapted well to her “J-leg” prosthetic. She was bouncing around with her little sister during the after-ceremony, and was so full of life that it embarrassed me to think about how I was grumbling about my golf. The event raised almost $200,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, and that money will help more little girls like Amanda.
My less-than-stellar golf for the day became very insignificant.
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Being in Michigan, the conditions you describe above take up about 30% of our golf season. I'm sure Terry has his own ideas, but my best advice for soggy turf - put the ball back just a touch, take one extra club and swing easy. You won't dig as much into the turf, but the extra club should still give you good distance.
Oh also - choke up a little bit too. This helps compensate for your feet settling in to the wet fairways/rough.
I was having this problem this weekend too, everyone in our group was taking huge pelts and we normally don't. I finally got into a better groove on the back nine doing what jrbizzle suggested... ball further back in the stance to make sure I was hitting it first and an extra club.
I noticed this weekend that my distances were especially off on longer clubs like fairway woods and hybrids. I was getting divots on everything, even fairway woods. I thought maybe I was coming in too steep but now I think that this was at least partly due to the soft conditions. Would that make sense?
Being from the Eastern Shore of MD and having the same conditions I can totally relate. I've had 3 charity tournaments in the last 6 or so weeks and not one of them was free of soggy fairways, pond sand traps and saturated greens. Luckily lift clean and place was in effect (scramble format) as we had many plugged shots. Ball first contact is much needed. Not conducive to my swing at times.
I think last year about the only time I didn't play was when the temps went under 35 or snowing/raining. It's fun to play in adverse conditions, but I have to lower expectations with all the drawbacks you mentioned above (shortened swing, extra clothes etc). Great article and reminder of what's to come.
Just finished a very wet winter of golf in Melbourne and I am enjoying the spring version of the game. However, I just try to use the time over winter to improve my game. With irons it becomes important to take the divot after striking the ball, and this tends to improve my ball striking. The bit difference is in the short game. Anything fat goes nowhere. So it is important to chip and pitch with a strong left side like Terry keeps telling us. Both habits good for your game. Just treat paying in the winter like practice and use it to hone some good skills that will hold you in good stead when Spring comes around.
Did you play a round in Richmond? I live near there and would love to see where you played and what you thought of the course.
And .. yes .. the last month and a half have featured some incredibly awful weather for golf around here. Until yesterday, I'd forgotten what it was like to have a day without rain.
I also experienced this recently, normally play in the Yakima, Wa. area the courses are fairly dry and forgiving of "fatish" hits but when I played a course close to the Cascade mountain range that was quite wet, i couldn't believe how many fat shots I was hitting. I wish I had thought to put the ball back in my stance though, might have saved me 20 strokes or so..........
Tim Horan says:
just so we don't mis the point of Terry's post...I appreciate how lucky most of us are to be playing at all. And it doesn't really matter what the conditions are it is only a game. Well done all of those guys on that and every charity golf day. It brings it home and keeps us grounded.
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