Winter golf divides players. Winter is a challenging time for golfers, as the cold temperatures and unpredictable weather make it difficult to play your best game. So should you take a winter break from golf, or is there value in playing through the season?
In this blog post, we'll explore some ways to deal with the weather, why golf during the winter can be beneficial, and offer tips on how to stay comfortable and play your best.
With tips on finding indoor options and making sure that your equipment is up for whatever course Mother Nature throws at you - it's time to get ready for a successful snowy season!
Challenges Of Playing Golf In Winter
Playing outdoors, during winter brings a number of challenges that make people reconsider if it's even worth playing. Some of these challenges include:
Limited Daylight Hours
One of the challenges of playing golf in winter is that there is limited daylight. The days are shorter, which means that there is less time to play golf. This can be a problem for people who work during the day and can only play golf on weekends, or only have a few hours in the evening to go out and play after work.
Baby, It's Cold Outside
Another obvious challenge of playing golf in winter is the cold weather. It is difficult to play golf when it is cold outside. The cold weather can also make it difficult to grip the club and hit the ball accurately.
Snow and Ice
Another challenge of playing golf in winter is the snow and ice. Snow and ice can make it difficult to walk on the course and can also make it difficult to hit the ball accurately, or even attain distance when making a shot.
Playing golf in winter can be a great challenge due to the frequent windy conditions. Gusts of wind can drastically change the shot trajectory, affecting accuracy. Even if a golfer is an experienced player, the unpredictable gusts of wind can still give them trouble when it comes to judging how much power should be used when hitting the ball.
Furthermore, heavier winds come with colder temperatures and make playing uncomfortable if players are not wearing proper protective gear. For this reason, many golfers opt out of playing in winter or look for ways to reduce the impact of strong winds on their game performance.
Course Availability Is Limited
One of the challenges of playing golf in winter is that many courses are closed due to weather conditions. This can be a problem for people who live in areas where there are not many courses available.
Alternatively, you might need to seek out a course that permits play owing to better weather or temperature, at a greater distance away than your local course.
High Playing Fees
Another challenge of playing golf in winter is that green fees are often higher than they are during other times of the year. This is because fewer courses may be open, and increased maintenance costs tend to be passed on to golfers.
Even during the daylight hours, the sun may not be out in full force, or there is just a high density of cloud cover. The result is pooper visibility. This can be compounded if you use white golf balls.
You Can't Use a Cart
Usage of golf carts is often prohibited during winter months as a result of golf courses not wanting to damage the greens with tracks from carts. That, or the fact that carts just won't be able to handle icy patches makes for much more walking needing to be done.
Yes, the weird thing as well as paying more to play, is actually large crowds. That's because fewer courses are open and due to the influx in golfers, you may find that your tee time is pushed back.
Tips For Playing Golf In Winter
Wear Multiple Layers
Don't think for one second that you can skimp on clothing during winter golf. Layer up! Wear plenty of layers so you can adjust your temperature as the day goes on. Start with a good base layer, then add other insulation pieces like vests and hoodies. Finish off with a waterproof outer layer with some stretch for extra movement around the course.
Invest in Winter Gloves
Golf gloves are essential whatever the weather. But during winter, you'll want to invest in a thicker pair of gloves designed for cold conditions. Look for leather or neoprene gloves that retain heat and repel wind and water.
Pack a Hat
Whether you prefer a baseball cap, trapper hat, or something else, make sure you have a warm winter hat to keep your head warm. This not only serves as warmth but also ensures your ears don't freeze.
The air is denser in the winter, which makes it difficult for your golf ball to get as much distance. To make up for this, club up! This means selecting a higher lofted club than usual to maintain accuracy and keep your shots on target. If you don't, expect a poor result.
Use Traction Cleats
You'll need to be prepared for treacherous icy terrain, so make sure you invest in some spikeless golf shoes that provide extra grip on the ground.
This will help keep you from slipping around when walking and help maintain your balance throughout your swing. You can also purchase traction cleat kits that can be attached to your regular golf shoes.
Tee it Up
Most of the time, golfers tend to tee off from the back tees. In winter, however, you may want to move up to a set of forward tees and take advantage of the extra swing speed you'll get from hitting shorter shots. This will also ensure that your ball lands on areas of the course that are free from snow and ice.
Don’t Focus On What Your Score Is
During the winter, you shouldn't be worrying too much about your score. Why is that? Because it's near impossible to replicate a good score in wintery weather as you would score during the other seasons.
Instead, focus on just getting the practice in, and enjoy the game, no matter what your scorecard reads at the end of the day.
Play To Winter Rules
There are reliefs in place when playing in the challenging winter weather. Make sure you understand them before teeing off as they may differ from the usual rules. For example, when a ball has been marked on the green and it has subsequently been moved by frost or snow, it can be replaced without penalty.
Additionally, if your golf ball is completely covered in snow or frozen to the ground, you can take a free drop within one club length of the ball's original spot.
Remember to check with your local golf course for rules and regulations pertaining to winter play.
Change Golf Balls
Choosing the right golf ball for winter can make all the difference to your game, especially in colder weather. Factors such as hardness, spin, and durability must all be taken into account, but above all else, you need to think about visibility.
Golfing in winter can often mean more difficult conditions, and finding the right color of the golf ball is essential when trying to locate it on the course.
If you expect to play early in the morning on an overcast day and are also likely to encounter wet ground or dew, then a brightly-colored high-visibility golf ball might be your best bet - look out for colors such as yellow or orange. Alternatively, if you tend to golf predominantly on sunny days then regular white balls with red markings should do the job just fine.
Keep Your Golf Balls Warm
When playing golf during the cold winter months, your decision whether or not to keep your golf ball warm will depend on several factors. While some seasoned golfers may discourage keeping a warm golf ball due to loss of control, others argue that keeping a ball warm can result in increased accuracy and distance.
Cold air can be detrimental to the golf ball's dimple pattern and structure, making it less aerodynamic and therefore more difficult to control. As such, if you are having issues controlling your shots it might be wise to invest in a good ball warmer so that the air temperature does not adversely affect the flight of your shot.
You'll need to experience the differences for yourself before deciding on the way forward regarding whether to warm or not.
Use a Golf Simulator
During the winter months, golfers around the world are often unable to practice and play on courses due to inclement weather.
Under these conditions, home might be the best thing. For those looking to continue training their swing, a golf simulator can be an ideal solution. These simulators allow players to virtually play real courses without having to leave the safety of their own homes.
Not only does this give people something to do in the wintertime, it can also help them maintain and hone their skills throughout each season. Along with analyzing metrics such as ball speed, distance, and trajectory, golf simulators also enable players to focus on developing short-game skills like chipping or putting. So while playing in cold or wet conditions may not be possible outside during the winter months, a golf simulator can easily help keep you in the thick of things.
Buy a Net
If you prefer a more "real" experience, a chipping net might be worth the investment.
We know, during the winter, it can be difficult to visit a golf course. The cold weather makes conditions difficult and many courses are closed or not open for regular play. That's why having a chipping net at home is so important for golfers who want to stay sharp all year round.
A chipping net is an inexpensive way to practice your short game indoors and it gives you the opportunity to simulate shots from the green that you might expect on the course.
Not only does this help you stay on top of your putting and chipping skills, but it also helps build confidence in your abilities and keeps your short game sharp for when you are ready to return to the course in warmer weather.
Make The Most of Winter Greens
Depending on where exactly your course is located, the use of winter greens may or may not be in effect. This depends on the extent of frost on the course, and the risk shoes possess when playing on the standard green.
Also known as temporary greens, these are typically shorter in length than regular greens and are created to allow players to make use of the course even in the coldest months.
The distance between holes on the winter greens is shorter, so you should also be able to make them in fewer strokes too.
Winter greens can make playing on a frozen course safer, as well as more enjoyable, so be sure to take advantage if your local course offers them.
Know what can help keep you warm? Muscle. Muscle mass acts as a factory for energy and heat production in the body, so a greater amount of lean muscle would help you stay warmer.
You don't need to be a bodybuilder- but you'll be surprised by the amount of heat your body can naturally generate.
Lift weights a few times a week, either at home or the gym and take advantage of a supplement such as Foundation- ATP and creatine to increase the rate of lean mass accrual.
While winter golf isn't for everyone, it can still provide a great opportunity for players to hone their skills and stay in shape.
The long gap in time spent not practicing any sort of golf leaves you playing catch up to other players who might have bitten the bullet and worked through the difficulties. Now, you too can hone your skills year around, and surprise the competition next season.