If you play a lot of golf, sooner or later you might have to play in the rain; or snow, or sleet, or tornado. Okay, we’re kidding about the last one, but we’re getting to the time of year where Minnesota will see wet conditions, and if your goal is to get in as many rounds as possible, you might need to play in the rain. Such is the joy of golf in Minnesota: we learn how to play golf in a variety of weather conditions.
“Playing in the rain” can mean anything from cold, breezy weather to sideways icy rain. Whether you’re experienced at playing in rough weather or not, there are some things to consider before layering up for the 2019 golf season.
We asked John Kendall, director of golf at Giants Ridge, for his tips on playing in wet conditions.
Wear The Right Stuff
Staying as dry as you can is going to increase your chances for success, but perhaps the best weapon before you begin your round is to recognize your fate.
“Accept the fact that you’re going to get wet so you can best physically and mentally prepare for it,” Kendall says. “Everyone else playing that day is getting wet as well, so why not have the best plan to handle the conditions?”
For cold weather, layering is key. Consider this combination: A base layer of some kind of compression garments and/or a mock-neck. A secondary layer of an insulating fleece or performance-fabric quarter-zip. A top layer of a windbreaker or rain jacket. Add a warm hat instead of a ballcap and some appropriate cart gloves or mitts, and you’re ready for anything the Minnesota weather can send your way. Appropriate clothing and gear are vital for any golf in bad weather, and Golf Magazine offers some helpful tips.
Prepare for the Conditions
Once you are properly geared up for the elements, it’s time to consider the kind of golf you might experience. If you aren’t in the proper frame of mind, you may end up discouraging yourself and perhaps even set your game back. Having a miserable experience won’t help you benefit from those early season swings.
We asked Chris Foley, PGA Master Professional, and director of instruction at Cragun’s Legacy Courses in Brainerd, and Don Berry, PGA Professional at Edinburg USA Golf Club in Brooklyn Park, what to expect when playing in rough conditions.
The bottom line is to lower expectations and enjoy those first swings of the season. Don’t beat yourself up for missed shots (especially when they may be due to the weather), and revel in small victories like hitting a decent shot in adverse conditions. And be sure to enjoy the quick round! Chances are the course you’re playing won’t be crowded.
Adjust Your Approach
Once that mental hurdle is cleared and you are outfitted in the proper gear, you have to deal with the matter of striking the golf ball. A good soaking rain is going to change the way the turf reacts, and the same goes for the ball coming off your wet club. You have to adjust the way you play the game, and that means swinging within yourself and avoiding the hero shots.
“In the softer conditions, I’ll always hit more three-quarter and half shots to avoid big divots and steep contact,” Kendall says. “You can still be aggressive with shot selection, but I avoid trying to squeeze every yard out of a shot — take one more club and hit it solid.”
Keeping those swing thoughts in mind can help you reach the required distance despite the conditions.
Read the Greens
Speaking of the greens, wet conditions may require a different mindset on the putting surfaces. You’ll want to examine the green complexes for changing conditions. Be mindful that, with all putts, speed is more important than line, and wet greens can slow down speeds, which can reduce the break.
If you are just off the green and chipping, reduce the amount of loft on the club and employ a pitch and run motion, as if to sweep the ball, and lessen a steep angle of attack that could dig in and cause fat shots.
In addition, watch what’s going on around you, as focusing on other players’ putts can help with yours.
“Wet greens will be slower than dry greens, a change that can happen quickly during a round, Kendall says. “Pay attention to how the greens feel under your feet and watch your playing partners’ putts to gauge how they are being impacted.”
Above all, keep a good attitude. As Kendall says, you are all in this situation together, and cooler, not necessarily drier, heads, will likely prevail.