I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy playing golf in the cold. I’d much rather play in the rain (as long as it isn’t a cold rain), as play in the cold. And for the northern third of the U.S., this particular winter will not let go. On those few days when a nearby course is open, chances are it’s pretty nippy outside. This past Sunday morning in Charlotte it was 34 degrees as I drove to the course and we had a 30-minute frost delay before we could tee off.
In April. In Charlotte.
So most of us have been playing cold weather golf, if we’ve been playing at all.
I don’t know know why I dislike it as much as I do. Maybe it’s the extra layers that restrict my swing. Maybe it’s the sting of a not-quite-flushed iron shot. Or, possibly, it’s knowing the ball isn’t going nearly as far, and trying to do the math of one extra club, or two?
I do know that, as a baby boomer, cold weather golf is not something I do very well. If you agree, here are some tips to help.
This stands to reason, but it’s important that you are up-to-date on what it is you are layering.
That old long sleeve cotton tee-shirt from the 5K run back in 2002 isn’t your best bet. A bulky jacket isn’t either.
First order of business is to check the weather and see what the temperatures are when you will tee off, and what they will be when you finish. If you’re certain you will be in some kind of long sleeves at the end of the round, then I suggest a thermal tee as the first layer under your golf shirt. They are form fitting, and will not restrict a golf swing. In fact, it’s likely you will forget you have it on. But it’s an imperative first layer of clothing on a cold day. That cotton tee has got to go!
Most golfers now have a windshirt, similar to that worn by Rafael Cabrero-Bello. But if not, you need to get one. It does what it is advertised to do- stop the wind. It is also another light, flexible, stretchable layer that adds very little weight.
These are called different things in different parts of the country, but they are the wool, knitted caps you wear to cover your ears. The more form-fitting, the better, because the last thing you want is some loose headgear sliding down just as you start your backswing.
My mother always said if you keep your ears and head warm, you’ll feel warmer. She was right, as she usually was.
We all know we should stretch before we play. Some players have more elaborate stretching routines than others!
Regardless, stretching when it is cold is even more imperative than when it is warm. I am an everyday example of someone who does not enjoy stretching. I didn’t stretch before I played Sunday, and it showed in the first few holes. I couldn’t turn, I couldn’t extend, I was super-quick…I was everything a golfer shouldn’t be. So stretching is imperative.
The Fit Golfer Girl has a treasure trove of stretches designed for golfers. You can find out more here.
I’ll admit I don’t like to wear these, but if they are good enough for Phil, they are good enough for you and me. When it’s cold outside and your hands sting from any but the most pured of golf shots, you will be glad you have them on. There are various iterations, so it makes sense to go to your local Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, or similar, and try some one. Some are more thermal and therefore thicker than others. Some are just two golf gloves- one for each hand. Them them on and see what feels the best. But when you need them, you’ll be glad you have them!
Additionally- go to the range and hit some shots with them on! Don’t break them out of the package on the first tee without knowing how they are going to feel on your first tee shot.
We usually call these rain suits or rain gear in the U.S., but I’ve always enjoyed hearing Sir Nick Faldo talk about breaking out the “waterproofs” so I’m using it!
As with many of the recommendations here, the newer and more advanced versions are the way to go. They are lighter, more technically designed, more waterproof, and do an all around better job then the what was on the market a generation ago. An added advantage is they take up less space in your golf bag-AND- can double as another layer if it’s just colder than you’ve planned for. It’s another jacket if you absolutely need it.
Tom Watson said he had to learn to embrace the weather at The Open Championship before he started winning it. Knowing that everyone else is wet, and cold, is a start. No one else has a caddie keeping their stuff dried off, any more than you do.
Here are some important points to remember:
The ball isn’t going to go as far in the cold. Former USGA technical director Frank Thomas has said the difference is about two yards of carry for every 10 degrees change in temperature. That isn’t a huge deal with a driver, but four or five yards difference with a wedge is the difference between middle of the green and bunker. Or pond. Something I try and do is always club up at least one, and sometimes two clubs when it’s cold. Among other advantages, it keeps me from trying to overswing (while wearing extra layers).
Walking vs. Riding
If it’s raining, then a cart is a great refuge. But if not, you may want to consider walking. It will keep you warmer and looser.
I mentioned stretching above, but when it’s cold, stretching during the round is a good idea, too. Take thirty seconds and do static stretches at every opportunity. Arms, back, hamstrings, anything you can stretch is a worthy candidate. The cold is continuously contracting your muscles, so continuously stretch them back out.
Do you need all the above?
Yeah, you probably do. I have one thermal tee, three windshirts, three lightweight pullover jackets, waterproofs, all-weather gloves, and a stocking cap. Other important items are hand warmers, which are invaluable inside that jacket pocket, and wool socks (and- again- make sure you know those wool socks will fit with your golf shoes BEFORE you step on the first tee).
Oh, and the flask. Don’t forget the flask….
Know of anything I forgot? Add it in the comments below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll include them in a future story.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy Shooting Your Age!