(Cough), no not that! I mean dealing with windy weather conditions on the golf course. Just like the conditions the tour players are facing this week at the Open Championship. A windy day can turn an easier course into a tough one and a tough course into a nightmare. That is if you don’t know how to handle it.
Here are a few simple tips to help you tame the tornadoes on your next round.
Hitting into the wind
There are a few obvious things about hitting into a headwind and a few that aren’t so crystal clear. Firstly the wind will hold the ball up, which means you will need more club to get to your target. A little known fact about headwinds is that hitting a club harder to get the extra distance needed will probably result in even less distance.
Why? The harder you hit a club, the more backspin you will likely put on the ball. Backspin will make the ball climb higher and get hit harder by that headwind. So If you’re 150 yards out straight into the wind and would normally hit a 7 iron, hit a 6 iron, maybe even a soft 5 iron. Always take more club and hit it softer when playing into the wind.
Keeping the ball as low as possible will also help get your ball to the target. You can do this in several ways: moving the ball farther back in your stance, take more club and hit a ¾ shot, hit more club and grip farther down the grip.
For the more advanced players who are happy hitting a draw, you can really cheat the wind with a nice low draw. Keeping the ball low will keep the ball below the stronger winds and gain you distance. The nature of the draw shot also puts less backspin on the ball so it will tend to drill through the wind rather than holding up and dropping out of the sky like a dead bird.
Fun fun fun! Hitting downwind can be fun on a long driving hole but can be just as challenging as into the wind for accurate approach shots. The ball will fly a little farther and will tend to bounce and roll on more than usual. So hit a little bit softer or take less club to get that distance right.
One problem is holding the ball on the green when shooting over an obstacle to a tight flag. Here you want as much spin as possible and a higher trajectory. So try hitting a cut shot to gain height and backspin.
In general, when deciding how to play a shot in windy conditions, try to think how the wind will help your shot. Will it fly it farther? Will it hold it up and drop it on the green? Try to visualize what will happen and play a shot that will fit the conditions on that hole.
Photo Credit: Windy Day on the Links by John Haslam at Flickr Creative Commons.