If you plan to golf this spring, you should anticipate a number of variables. From sore muscles to snow, any number of things can surprise you during an April round of golf. Here are some early spring golf tips to help you address common course conditions, so that you can be as prepared as possible!
With snow melting off the courses, one of the most common issues an early-spring golfer may run into is muddy conditions– both in the fairway and the rough. Often times, muddy conditions result in a “chunky” shot, where the club hits the ground before the ball, creating dirt between the clubface and the ball, likely resulting in a deep divot, poor ball flight, and a shot way short of the green.
To avoid this problem, we recommend setting up with the ball slightly forward, keeping your knees quiet throughout your swing. If you are familiar with the “nip and pick” idea, that’s what you’re going for here. Although using this think-point could result in blading or skulling the ball, the result will often be more satisfactory than a “chunk” in these particular conditions. The ball will go further, get closer to the green, and increase your chances of saving more extra shots.
Putting on Wet Greens
As you’ve probably experienced, wet greens are quite slow. What you may not know is wet greens also tend to break less than dry greens. To address the speed issue, we recommend lining up your putt using the actual hole as your target, but then move the ball back in your mind by the desired amount and putt to the new target. If, on the practice green, you noticed that you needed to use a 12-foot stroke to make a 10-foot putt, then you should include a 20% increase in your target distance for every putt. To manage the amount of break, remember the harder you have to hit the ball to combat the slow green speed, the less your ball will respond to the break.
The sand conditions at the beginning of the year can be unpredictable. One way to tell if the sand is firm or fluffy is to get in the bunker and squish your feet around. If your feet have trouble sinking in, or hit the “bottom” of the bunker, you’re in a firm bunker.
If you find yourself in a firm bunker, don’t use your sand wedge. It has too much bounce. Instead, use a lob wedge or a pitching wedge. Make sure the lead edge of your club comes down square and strikes the sand before the ball at a steep angle. One of the effects of this steep swing will be a smaller follow-through– that’s okay! The focus of this shot is the squared clubface and the steep swing, which will allow your ball to come out of the bunker nice and high.
Windy conditions are common early in the season as cold fronts blow out and warm fronts blow in. Rather than let the wind get the better of you, learn how to play with the wind. When the wind speeds pick up, many golfers try to outmuscle Mother Nature– not a good idea! Rather than over-swing, use a less-lofted club and take a normal or easy swing. Not only will this improve the quality of your swing, but it will also keep your ball flight lower, lessening the effects of the wind. Choking down on your club is another popular wind-defying tip. Despite the loss of distance, choking down gives you more control.
Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to raise awareness of Minnesota golf courses and resorts as international travel destinations. Our member facilities feature award-winning, championship golf courses and are geographically disbursed across the great state of Minnesota. The combination of exceptional quality and outstanding value make Minnesota one of the best golf destinations in the United States.