When the wind blows, the rage flows. Blustery days can be extremely frustrating, good shots turn out bad, and bad shots turn out worse. Distance control suffers, confidence disappears, and concentrating becomes next to impossible. Even if you’re playing a course like you know the back of your hand, your entire strategy you normally play with gets tossed out the window when the wind picks up.
One of the most common problems for a majority of golfers is uncertainty on how to play in these conditions. They basically try and force their normal game, and tend to really suffer because of it. But fear not, we’ve put together a few quick tips to keep your ball cutting through the wind like a hot knife through butter.
Swing Easy When Its Breezy
One of the biggest mistakes people make when hitting into a head wind is they think they have to hit the ball harder to compensate for the wind. This actually makes things worse. The harder you hit a golf ball, the more backspin it generates. Combine this with a headwind, and you’ve got a recipe for a sky ball that lands short every time.
Next time the gusts are blowing in your face, try making a smooth, controlled swing at about 80%. You’ll take some spin off the ball, get a lower ball flight, and take some of the wind out of play.
Club Up, Choke Down
A driver generates more clubhead speed than a wedge. Why? Because the club is longer and generates greater centripetal force, and as we learned speed = spin, and spin will kill your score in the wind (take a look at how hard the pros hit their wedges when they’re trying to spin them back).
Since we’re swinging easier, take an extra club and choke down a bit. Chocking down will give you a bit more control of the club and stiffen your shaft. A stiffer shaft will whip less and generate less clubhead speed, all helping to keep the ball lower with less spin.
Ball Back, Weight Forward
The longer the ball is in the air, the more opportunity for the wind to affect it. If you look at places where the wind blows constantly, likeScotland, players scoot the ball around the ground and hit very few high shots. In the wind, low shots = low scores.
By moving the ball back in your stance a bit, you’ll be sure to hit down on the ball with a de-lofted club, and loft is definitely not your friend in these conditions. And keeping a bit of your weight forward will help your hands stay ahead of the ball at impact, also contributing to less loft and a lower ball flight.
Fight it or Ride It
If you have a forced carry or need to get over a tree, hitting a low shot is no longer an option, so understanding how the wind will affect certain shots is critical. Where the shot starts and where it will end up depends on the winds direction and spin on the ball.
In the wind, a straight shot isn’t going to fly straight. The wind is going to drift the ball a little or a lot, depending on the strength of the gusts. However, it you absolutely need a straight shot, trying fighting the wind. What that means is, if the wind is right to left, try hitting a fade (for a right handed player) right at your target; the sidespin on the ball should counteract the wind and produce a fairly straight shot.
If the hole is cut on the far edge of the green, let the wind help you feed the ball in nice and close. In a far left hole location in a right to left wind, start the ball at the right side of the green with a little draw. The wind will exaggerate the spin and push the ball farther than normal, letting you hit a safer shot that ends up close.
Don’t Risk It
One of the hardest things in golf is knowing when to cut your losses and back off. If you’re playing in the wind, you better learn this lesson or the wind will expose you. Don’t shy away from laying up on par 3’s an 4’s; often times you’ll have a better chance to get up and down than getting the ball on the green from far out. Don’t chase sucker pins or challenge fairway bunkers. Play for the fat part of the green and the widest part of the fairway, and just take your medicine and move on when you get in trouble.
So next time the gales blow, use these tips and you’ll be as cool as a summer breeze. If you’ve got any tips or techniques you’d like to share that have been successful for you, please leave your comments below.