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Playing in Cooler Weather
Wow, have we all gotten blasted this past week!! Record snowfalls in the mid-west and northeast, an ice storm with snow in Dallas that messed with the Super Bowl crowds, and even record low temps all the way down to South Texas. It's a weird site, icicles dangling from the palm trees!

But aside from all that, the PGA Tour is off to a good start and we’re all getting antsy to get back into golf season, right? I know it's further off for some of you than others, but from the emails I’m getting, hardy souls are venturing out when they get the chance. And that brought the email from Matthew, who asked about playing in colder weather:
"I couldn't resist the urge (despite it being January) and played a quick round of 9 with a friend in the 40 degree weather we had in Southern Ohio last Sunday. In addition to a reminder at how much I still have to learn about this game, I also realized that playing in cooler weather can have a very distinct effect on play. Do you have any good cool/cold weather tips for those of us willing enough (read: desperate enough) to play golf in the frigid north during the winter? I’ve heard things about using softer balls, but I don’t really even know where to begin when it comes to those things."
Well, Matthew, you’re a die hard, but there are others who itch just as much as you do to get out there if given a reasonable opportunity. The softer ball idea is a good one, and Phil Mickelson was just in the golf news for making a similar change. He says it’s giving him better feel around the greens, and I’m always a fan of anything that can do that. Here are my favorite tips for playing in temperatures that are less than ideal:
1. Play a softer ball. The colder air and your reduced swing speed from having more clothes on makes balls play harder than you likely need. Drop down to a softer compression ball and you’ll pick up yards with your driver and irons and greatly improve your feel and control around the greens.

2. Swing slower. You have layers of clothes on, so that’s going to have a negative effect on your ability to generate proper timing and swing speed. Add to that the fact that you’ve likely not played much or at all for 2-3 months, and you need to ease back into it. Work on just making good swings, even if they are at 70-80% normal speed.

3. Relax your expectations. It’s cold, and you haven’t been playing much or at all. Just enjoy the fact that you are on the course, and don’t expect to play like you were at the end of summer. Winter rust is all over you, and it will take a while to chip it off. The idea is to go out and have fun because you were lucky enough to get a decent day of weather.

4. Keep your hands and grips warm. Rubber grips in the bottom of a golf bag can get really cold. And a cold grip does nothing to enhance your feel. One of the little chemical heat packs dropped into the bottom of your bag will keep your grips warm. It’s a neat trick. Another is to wear gloves between shots to keep your hands warm. Hands that are cold do not give you anything near the feel you want for chipping and putting, or for club control on full swings.

5. Drop down a club. Because your swing is restricted, and you haven’t been playing, the best tip is to drop down a club on all your approach shots. If it looks like a “normal” 7, go with the 6. You can clear that water in July with your hybrid, lay up in February. You get the picture.
So, let’s hope that we get windows of “golf-able” weather all across the country . . . right after this dang snow melts. And take the opportunity to get out there and enjoy some golf.

And congratulations on winning an EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge, Matthew. The rest of you can, too, if you’ll just send in your questions to TheWedgeGuy.

photo source
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
billbadaz says:
I am hoping to get out and play this Sunday in KY. It is supposed to be 57. My first round last year, when I thought I would play terrible, I shot 75 swinging nice and easy. Hope I am fortuanate enough to do it again
Banker85 says:
ya i am starting to really feel the itch! great tips. the best tip i have is to walk and carry your bag.
Dazinkster says:
I haven't played in anything over 40-45*F since November. Wish I'd have read these tips before then...had to kinda figure them out for myself. lol. All true stuff though, I look forward to reaping the benefits of battling the cold when Spring/Summer rolls round.
birdieXris says:
I feel a lot of this sounds familiar. :)
stedar says:
There is one thing that gets me: After playing for 2-3 days a week during the season and getting a handicap to be proud of (single figure), the off season when 1 round a week is fortunate means the game slips. All the practice, the mental attitude and preparedness means nothing if the consistent swinging of a golf club in hand is not achieved.
I played recently with a friend who was a scratch golfer 10 years ago. He stopped playing for one reason or another and has picked up his clubs again. He was lucky to go under 100! Why, he was a good golfer and yet not playing means he wasn't good. Can't be a natural thing, he was good and had ability. Yet lack of game time meant he was like the rest of us high handicappers? Golf must be more about playing time than anything else, which comes back to an article about the pros who play everyday - if we had time to do that, could we be that good? - no, but we would definitely be closer to a scratch golfer... My 2-cents worth
ppinkert says:
good tips for sure... but with wind chill down to -20 and -30 here in the Texas panhandle looks like it will be a few days before I get a chance to try them out..
dottomm says:
It was 70 degrees today. February. Just sayin.
Joness says:
Not really on the topic but I couldn help it. Beautiful day playing golf today (in Melbourne Australia). Blue Skies, no wind and a Very Comfy 28C (82 Farenheit). We have had plenty of rain this summer and my home course (Eastwood Golf CLub) is in magnificient condition. If only I could hit one of the lush fairways.
bkuehn1952 says:
@birdieXris: Yes, I seem to recall someone from a northerly state gave us an excellent primer on cold weather golf already.

@dottomm: no risk of a major earthquake today. Always. Just sayin. (okay - maybe I would risk an earthquake right about now with 5 degrees outside)
birdieXris says:
I wish i could play golf right now. Actually, i WOULD be playing if there wasn't still 9 inches of snow on the ground :( Mother Nature FTL.
lcgolfer64 says:
We are finally getting our first hint that spring *might* be coming sometime before 2012. Woke up to -11 with -26 windchills but our fair weatherpeoples say that there is a chance of breaking into the 30's, thats a heat-wave here.
Been to the dome to swing at sill targets for an hour a so a week - bought a new Cobra 4Hy a week ago to fill needed gap - c'mon global warming do your stuff!!
mantajim says:
Fourteen rounds so far this year in East Texas. My golf cart heater works wonders. Even though I've been able to keep playing, my ability to score has dropped. Shots don't go as far (cold balls, encumbered swing) Layer your clothing, and warm your balls. My practice time has been very limited. I try to warm-up, loosen-up at home. The greens aren't growing and have firmed up. A high spin, soft ball is essential to holding the greens. Going back to one of my favorite 'Golf' magazine articles on balls Feb'08, they have a chart of softest and hardest balls. Softest included Nike One Platinum & Black, Callaway HX Hot Bite, Titleist Pro V1 & 1x & NXT Tour, Taylormade TP Black. These are all high spin balls also. (Soft covers grab the face longer) I play Pro Vx's but will play any of the others if I find a good one. I also use my 'Texas wedge' a lot more around the greens, trying to avoid the 'mud-chunk' I hope everyone is able to get out a play a round or two real soon.
pennsafety says:
I live around Philadelphia, PA and always keep up on the local weather forecast. (17degrees this moning) Even if Philly gets 18" of snow --- Jersey/Delaware/Maryland may of only coating to an inch...I managed to get out and play 4 rounds since December and have a scheduled tee time this coming Sunday. Partly sunny 46degrees forecasted!
larrynjr says:
going out this afternoon, high of 42 and sunny today!
Dusty23 says:
last played on Dec 19th, temps when we started were about 30, finished around mid 30's, snowed that night. have had snow on the ground ever since. i hate winter.
mseifert says:
Terry, thank you for answering my question! Also, thank you to the other oobgolfers who have added information.
jel1011 says:
hi i play year round my first round was jan 1 live in nc love cold weather play we get the course to our self
jfurr says:
I picked up some Soft Feel balls to try this weekend as an experiment, going to be around +/-40F at tee off.
billbadaz says:
jealous, I have not played since November. When you get shoulder tendonitis and have 4 bulging disc's, a few months off was needed though
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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