Here’s How You Can Enjoy Winter Golf!
Conditions on the golf course are different in the winter. The fairways may be softer, wetter, with less roll. The rough may be thicker, longer, and more difficult to get a clean hit. Greens may be must softer, slower, and may not run as true as they do in the summer. Then there is the issue of dealing with cold temperatures, especially for those of you who tee off in the early morning when temperatures can hover around 40 degrees.
Here are some tips from Sierra View’s Golf Pro for managing your game in the winter months. I hope you find this helpful, or if you have additional tips for winter golf, please leave a comment.
- Check your email first thing in the morning. The Golf Shop sends out an email blast to members, warning if there is a frost delay. Plan accordingly.
- Walk, don’t ride. If you are able to walk the course, do so, at least for your first nine holes. Walk the front; ride the back. Walking will keep your body much warmer than riding in a cart. Also, oftentimes in the rainy season the rule is “cart path only” which means you will end up walking as much, maybe more, by opting for a cart. If you do ride in a cart, make sure the windshield is up to reduce the cold air flow.
- Keep your hands warm. Here are some ideas: For winter golf, Velcro a pair of mitts to your push cart’s handle and slip your hands into the mitts while you walk or wait. Wear two golf gloves; winter gloves are great and we stock those in the Golf Shop. If “Tommy Two Gloves” can do it, so can we! Keep hand warmers in your pockets, and again, we carry these in the Golf Shop.
- Keep your golf balls warm. Cold golf balls mean significantly reduced flight distance. When you leave for the course in the morning, put your golf balls in your car’s interior and keep them close to your body during the round. Keep one in your pocket while you use the other one. Switch balls on every tee box. Many golfers also say to switch to a softer ball in winter.
- Adjust your expectations. Reaching the green in regulation during winter golf may be commonplace for you in the summer months, but due to winter conditions, you may have to adjust your strategy. I advise you to “club up” to adjust for the difference in temperatures. Your approach shot becomes highly critical in the winter, as you may end up having to one-putt for par.
- Allow for softer greens. Winter greens are usually considerably softer and slower than summer greens. This also means that you all need to be very conscious of repairing your ball marks which can look a bit more like a crater than a dent. Know how to perform a perfect repair and everyone will benefit.
- Observe the winter rule of lift, clean and place. This winter golf rule is not only to give you a more pleasurable round, it is also to protect the course. On every shot, take advantage of the rule, even if your ball looks like it doesn’t need to be cleaned. It could have a big ugly blob of mud on the underside. We stock those small, handy towels that clip to your belt for use on the green. Your winter towel is your friend.
- Be smart from the rough. The winter rough is often longer, thicker, and wetter than in the summer and it could grab your hosel and leave you with a nasty outcome. Many golfers find that a rescue or hybrid performs better in winter rough than the typical iron.
- Hydrate. It may not seem as important to you to hydrate yourself in the winter, but it’s just as important to carry water in the winter. And coffee, although it seems like a good idea, is dehydrating, not hydrating.
We are so fortunate in Northern California to be able to play golf twelve months out of the year. Our envious friends in other climates put their clubs away during the winter, or travel to warmer climates to have the experience we have year-round. All we need to do is keep in mind how to manage the changes in what we wear and how we strategize our game.
Happy winter golfing, and Happy Holidays!