Playing college golf in both Scotland and central Texas, I’ve had my fair share of windy rounds. I once recall playing the 215 yard 12th hole at Gullane No. 2, a downhill par 3 along the Firth of Forth, in such a strong headwind that I needed a driver and then a 5-iron to reach the green. Needless to say, this can be a challenge for even the most experienced of players, and if you’re heading over to the British Isles to play some golf you can expect at least a one club wind every round. I’ve compiled a few tips that may come in handy the next time you find yourself golfing in the wind:
Take enough club
The most common mistake people make when playing in the wind is choosing the wrong club. When golfing in the wind, I like to consider an old tip by Ben Hogan: if you had to fly it over the green to win a million bucks, what’s the shortest club you’d feel comfortable pulling? Whatever your answer, take one less club.
Understand how the wind will affect your ball flight
A headwind will exaggerate any draw or fade. Make sure to allow a little extra room right or left to accommodate the extra turn. Conversely, playing downwind will straighten your shots out. Don’t hit one into the Atlantic because your banana ball failed to show up!
Play the ball back in your stance
I usually move it back about an inch or so. This will do two things: it will keep the ball flight down and minimize any effects from the wind; and it will allow you to strike the ball more solidly, which will help the ball bore through the wind.
When in doubt, club up
Resist the temptation to try to muscle up on a shorter club. This will often lead to the ball ballooning up into the air, leaving your ball at the mercy of the gale.
Make sure you’re properly dressed
A good golf-specific windbreaker is your best friend on a windy day. Try to find one that is both waterproof and flexible enough to swing freely in.