12 Tips For Playing Golf In The Wind

Introduction

A round of golf can take anything up to 4 hours so you are going to be at the mercy of the elements for quite some time. Unless you are very lucky you are going to have to learn to cope with playing in windy conditions. Having played a fair amount of links golf down the years I’ve often had to adapt my game to very strong winds on occasion!

Here are some tips for playing golf in the wind.

Judging the Strength of the Wind

If you’re playing a tree-lined course then you can use the treetops to help judge the strength and direction of the wind. As you gain experience at a particular course you may find certain holes where the wind tends to swirl making club selection difficult. One of the best-known examples is the 12th hole at August National where even the best players in the world can often be left mystified when their ball comes up short in the creek.

You will often see players throwing up bits of grass to try and aid their judgment but you don’t only need to consider what the wind is doing where you’re standing. In fact, the wind conditions nearer your target will be more relevant as the ball will be moving more slowly and therefore be affected that much more.

Wind Direction

While there’s a fair chance that the strength and direction of the wind are going to vary somewhat during your round it might be a good idea to make a note on the course plan the general direction of the wind before you start playing. This way when you’re out on the course you can quickly work out where the wind should be coming from! It’s probably most important when you’re playing a course you’re not very familiar with.

PGA Tour stars struggle in the wind!

Take Plenty of Club

If you’re playing into a headwind then you’re going to have to bite the bullet and admit you’ll need to hit a longer club than you normally would for the yardage.

Some golfers would tend to work on each 10 mph of wind speed equates to an extra club. So if you are playing into a 10 mph headwind you would need to hit a 6-iron rather than a 7- iron. Another way of selecting the right club would be to convert the wind speed in mph to a percentage so a 10 mph wind would equate to 10%. That would mean a 150-yard shot was playing like 165 yards.

In a way, shots played into the wind are easier to adjust to than shots played downwind. You can often hit a shot downwind using one club less but the ball comes up well short because the wind has ”knocked the ball down”

When playing downwind you can probably work on half a percent per mile-per-hour wind speed. So with a 10 mile-per-hour wind behind you deduct 5% of the yardage. A 150-yard shot becomes a 142-yard shot.

Rhythm and Timing

“When it’s breezy, swing it easy”, is something you often hear experienced golfers say, and quite rightly so. In the same way that King Canute could not turn back the tide no matter how strong you think your golf swing is you are not going to beat the wind. The harder you try to hit the ball the more spin you are likely to impart. Adding extra backspin is likely going to cause the ball to fly higher and therefore be affected by the wind even more. Also, any sidespin you put on the ball will be increased causing the ball to veer further off-line.

Try to Control Your Trajectory

The ability to keep the ball down under the wind is a great asset whether playing directly into a headwind or trying to avoid the worst effects of a crosswind. If you can lower your ball flight then the wind should have less of an effect on your shot. 

When playing on tree-lined courses the ability to keep your ball below the level of the trees should help you avoid the worst effects of any crosswind.

Move the Ball Back in Your Stance

Try to move the ball back in your stance a little to help promote a slightly lower flight. Don’t overdo it though as you’ll end up coming down too steep into the back of the ball and get too much backspin.

You should probably tee your driver a little lower as well. This should help lower your ball flight slightly to reduce the effects of the wind.

Aim to Ride the Wind

In very strong crosswinds sometimes you just have to aim off to allow for the wind. If you are on the tee then you could use the width of the tee box to your advantage by teeing off on one side or the other.

Fight the Wind

If you are an accomplished player then you might fancy your chances of shaping your shots to counteract a crosswind. For example, hitting a fade in a right to left wind. This can be quite tricky to master even for good players though. 

Balance

On particularly windy days it can become difficult to maintain your balance when swinging a golf club. You might be wise to adopt a slightly wider stance.

Short Game and Putting

The higher you hit the ball on a windy day the greater allowance you are going to need to make. So the best thing to do when pitching and chipping is to keep the ball as low as possible. When pitching, take a little less loft and swing a bit easier to lower the flight of your shots.

Avoid playing flop shops unless you really have to and try to stick to using bump and run or the Texas wedge.

When putting in strong winds the best advice is to take a wider stance to try and maintain stability. On really windy days you may need to factor in the wind when reading your putts as well. 

If the wind becomes so strong that balls are moving just because of the wind then you may find that play will be suspended.

Hit it Better Not Harder

In windy conditions really you have to learn to hit the ball better rather than harder. It’s often surprising how a well-struck shot will remain relatively unaffected by all but the strongest wind.

Patience

Playing golf in breezy conditions can be very difficult and frustrating. You need to maintain patience and be realistic about what is achievable given the conditions and the quality of your golf game.

Conclusion

Playing golf on a really windy day can be extremely challenging but when you manage to produce some good golf it will be all the more satisfying. Being able to control the trajectory and the spin on your shots is a valuable asset even when it’s not windy but can be vital on a blustery day.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Can you play golf when it’s windy?

One of the joys of playing golf is dealing with the elements. Learning to play golf in the wind is an important part of the game. A strong wind is about the only thing that can really knock a world-class golfer off their game. If it becomes so windy that a golf ball will not remain at rest then the course would need to be closed until the wind subsides. This is one reason why links courses don’t tend to have especially fast greens since it is common for strong winds at the seaside and play would have to be suspended regularly if greens were maintained at very quick speeds.

What is the best way to play golf in the wind?

Learn how to reduce the backspin on your shots to keep the trajectory down and reduce the effect of the wind. You should also concentrate on maintaining your balance and rhythm. Try to hit the ball better rather than harder.

What should I adjust when I play golf in the wind?

Try to swing within yourself to make sure of solid contact. Play the ball slightly further back in your stance and try to avoid Hitting the ball aggressively as this will cause your shots to fly high and therefore be more affected by the wind. Widen your stance to help you maintain your balance.

Does wind affect putting?

A sufficiently strong wind can have an effect on the break or speed of your putt. I find it especially noticeable when playing on links courses.

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