1. Dress In Layers –
This is not the time to be tough. You’re going to be outside without any cover. Layer it up! It’s best to start with a base layer of warm, moisture-wicking fabric. I’d suggest either some compression apparel or modern long johns. You’ll also need all-weather golf gloves and a waterproof jacket in case the weather gets bad. And don’t forget a hat! Between 7 and 55% of body heat is lost through the head!
During winter, it’s best to use yellow or orange golf balls. A white ball can be really hard to find in the snow or leaf litter. When you pack your golf bag, make sure you take extra of everything – tees, balls, towels, water. It’s cold so tees are more likely to break. You’ll probably go through more balls. The ground may be snowy or muddy so you’ll need towels to wipe off your ball and your snotty face. Most course also don’t have cart girls during the winter, so you’ll have to bring all the water and snacks you’ll need.
3. Practice And Warm Up –
It’s going to feel different hitting a cold ball on the frozen ground, so take a few minutes to get used to it. You’ll want to warm up your body too. A walk from your car to the first hole isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to want to keep moving during your round to stay warm so take the time to stretch and bring your heart rate up a bit.
4. Have Realistic Expectations –
The weather is bad so don’t expect a great round. Golf balls don’t go as far or spin as much on the cold. The greens are going to be awful. But don’t be defeatist. Go into your game with a realistic expectation. You’re not going to have your lowest score ever, but you can still have a great time.
While it’s possible to post a low score in winter, there’s no need be be obsessed over it. Instead of stressing yourself out, why not skip stroke play, and try another type of game like match play or best ball?
6. Remember These Cold Weather Playing Tips –
-The ball doesn’t go as far in the cold, consider playing one tee up from your normal length. The point is to have a good time, not frustrate yourself.
-Play a softer ball. A softer ball will be easier to compress in cold weather.
-Switch to metal spikes. If your course allows it, change to metal spikes for more stability and to prevent slipping and falling on the hard ground.
-Allow for softer greens. Unless it is frosty then you will get little if any run on green approaches so factor this into your club choice.
7. Take Advantage Of Winter Rules –
– Preferred lies – There is a lot of confusion with this one. Preferred lies is not something that comes in automatically at the start of October and runs until the end of March. It is a local rule, so for it to apply the golf club’s committee has to put it into operation. Also, when they do put it in place they need to specify how far the player is allowed to prefer the lie. The three potential options listed in the rules are: six inches, a scorecard length and a club length, so make sure you find out which applies before beginning your round. If you don’t and you move the ball further than the allowable distance you will be subject to a two-stroke penalty. Further to this, when you are on a closely mowed area and ready to give yourself a preferred lie you need to mark your ball before picking it up or you will incur a one-shot penalty. Finally, you have to pick the ball up rather than moving it with a club and you are only allowed to prefer your lie once each time.
– Embedded ball – This is another rule that you need to check before setting out. Under the normal rules of golf you get relief if your ball is embedded in a closely mowed area through the green. This means you are not entitled to free relief when your ball is embedded in the rough. There is, however, a local rule that allows clubs to extend free relief to anywhere through the green in extremely poor conditions. If this rule is in place, then you are entitled to free relief in the rough.
– Cleaning the ball – When conditions are bad enough that your ball is picking up dirt, but not quite poor enough to merit preferred lies, clubs often invoke this local rule. It allows you to lift your ball and clean it before playing your next shot. All balls have to be marked before being lifted and replaced in the exact same spot after cleaning.
– Casual water – This rule does not allow you to get free relief if the force of your body causes water to come out of the ground. It entitles you to free relief if water is visible under your feet or the ball when you make your normal stance. If it is, then you are allowed to drop the ball within one club length of your nearest point of relief. If it’s not, then you have to play the ball as it lies.
8. Tips From Tour Players –
Paul McGinley, Ryder Cup Captain
“There’s the temptation to swing too hard, but that leaves your hands way behind, so you’re out of sync. So to get a better strike, the body and the hands have to work in unison. Match them up, so that you can swing harder.”
Ewen Murray, Sky Sports commentator
“Because you’ve got more layers on, you’re not going to be able to turn as well, plus the ball is not going to go so far in the cold. So don’t try and swing all out at 100%, lighten your grip and swing within yourself, at 75%.”
David Lynn, European and PGA Tour player
“Warm up properly, and work all the way through your bag before the round. It only has to be five balls with each club, but if you do that you’ll be warmed up and your body will be loose before you play.”
Jamie Donaldson, European Tour winner
“Don’t eat yellow snow! And use your 3-wood more, because more loft equals more carry and distance in bad weather. It’s all about rhythm. Find a saying that helps you do that, like tick-tock or Ernie-Els, as you swing.”
Graeme Storm, European Tour winner
“Always club up, especially when you need to play a punch shot, as you’re de-lofting the club. And with your driver concentrate on trying to swing a little smoother, especially into the wind.”
What are your tips for playing golf during the winter, Rock Heads? Share them in the comments below!