Besides being a killer Simon & Garfunkel tune (or a Bangles tune for you 80's children), this is unfortunately the time of year we currently find ourselves in. Thankfully for us here in the Deep South, Winter is a relative term for the most part. Temperatures are usually conducive to playing golf, however conditions can at times be less than favorable, as we can currently see with the relentless amounts of rain Mother Nature continues to dispense on a weekly basis.
Here are some tips to try and help you maximize your game until Springtime:
Stay Warm -It is always easier to perform better when your body is the right temperature. Dress for the elements by layering, that way if things warm up, you can always peel a layer or two off as you play. Also keeping a pair of hand warmers in your pockets or using winter golf gloves is a great way to keep your digits toasty. After all, you need to feel the club in your hand while playing.
Adjust for the Conditions -Typically speaking, the golf ball doesn’t fly as far as normal when the air temperatures are a bit cooler. Also, the ground is generally wetter than normal during the winter months, so you may not get as much roll as you would in the summer. Be prepared to club up, or play a different type of shot into the green.
Play a Softer Ball -Golf ball technology has changed a great deal over the years, but one thing hasn't, some golf balls are simply harder than others. When temperatures drop, you will want to use a ball that is softer, because it will be easier to compress. You will also get a better feel. Hitting a hard ball in cold weather is like teeing up a rock.
Stay Hydrated -When the cold weather hits, most people will reach for some coffee or hot chocolate. Others still may foolishly believe the old wives tail about booze warming you up and have a shot or two thinking this will help. Alcohol will actually lower your core body temperature, so while you might get the initial warm and fuzzy feeling on the way down, ultimately you will cool off over the next hour. Stay hydrated, warm up with the coffee or tea prior to the round, but pack some water or a sports drink to sip on while playing.
Play Preferred Lies -As we have already stated, most golf course will not be in the premium conditions that we find them in during the season. Therefore, adjust your game and roll the ball a bit. If it is really wet, play lift, clean, and place. After all, golf is fun, it supposed to be enjoyed, so why not allow for the conditions and allow for a bit more enjoyment.
Be Creative Around the Greens -To combat the softer conditions, adjust your short game a bit. When chipping, use a club with more bounce. Maybe employ a wood or a longer iron and use more of a putting stroke to chip. This should help you from "digging" your club in and hitting it chunky. When you get to the putting surface, move the ball a bit more forward in your stance. This will promote an upward stroke, that will get the ball rolling quicker.
Get Loose -Muscles tend to tighten up and become more injury prone when the temperatures drop. Arrive at the club a few minutes earlier than usual and do some stretching. Work your neck, back, shoulders and quadriceps. Hit some range balls or swing a weighted club before heading to the first tee.
Swing Easy -Normally along with cooler temperatures, winter golf means dealing with the wind. To try and keep it low, you will want to move the ball up in your stance, club up, and swing easy. This will help promote a shallower angle of attack and promote a flatter ball flight.
Stick to Your Routine -In many cases, the elements and course condition will present a much more difficult challenge than normal. Focus on your routine and try and block out the added distractions that the season brings. Take deep breaths and visualize your next shot. A solid routine will keep you focused and set you up for dealing with the challenges.
Own It -If you are teeing it up when the temperatures drop, you have to own it. After all, no one is forcing you to play. Relish the challenge. Shooting to your handicap (or even below it) is always nice, but when conditions are tough, it is even sweeter! If you embrace the conditions and are excited to tackle the challenge, you will gain a major advantage on the rest of your foursome right off the bat.
Hopefully the above will add a little insight to how and deal with Mother Nature and her fickle ways. If you are still feeling the Winter Blues, fear not, Spring is just over two months away!