Category Archives: course management

Some of my best tips for playing golf on a windy day – part three


“In golf, as in no other sport, your principal opponent is yourself.”Herbert Warren Wind

By Ian Hardie

In the articles Some of my best tips for playing golf on a windy day and Some of my best tips for playing golf on a windy day – part two

I covered the idea that even though most golfers assume that the most affected part of their golf game on a windy day would be ‘their driver’ or ‘tee shots’

Simply because the effect of the wind on them is the most visually dramatic in terms of the amount of curvature that the wind can put on the path of the golf ball as its flying through the air

It’s not actually the most affected part of a golfer’s game on a windy day

As in actual fact, it’s the shot that is the complete opposite of driving the golf ball – that holds the highest ‘mental cost’ of being affected by the wind – as it wreaks havoc in the very part of the game where we are attempting to be the most accurate

Which is when we are on the putting green – looking to ‘hole our putt’

And yes I did just describe that as having a high ‘mental cost’ as opposed to the shorter term actual cost of a higher golf score – something I will cover more about soon

Take a minute here to see if you can figure out what I’m talking about first

Anyway, back to the task at hand, as putting for most golfers makes up only about 40% of the shots that they play in a round – so while adjusting the stance to allow better putting in the wind helps – it isn’t going to negate all of the challenges that a windy day provides

Instead, it requires some other adjustments to be made to allow the golfer to hit their shots from the tee, down the fairway and onto the green as well as possible

When Mother Nature is busy making the job pretty difficult for them!

Before I get into exactly what’s required to be done – I’d like you to memorise a simple statement that I was told many years ago

During a discussion on how to play golf on a windy day with a very experienced golf pro that I happened to be playing with

Well, ok I admit it wasn’t really much of a discussion

It was really just the experienced golf pro watching how I was attempting to play in the wind on a particularly windy day and after shaking his head in disbelief at just how badly I was doing it, he said the following:

“You can’t fight the wind, you have to minimise its effect on your ball”

To be honest I didn’t immediately understand what he was saying as my idea of playing in the wind up until that point had been based on trying the force or muscle my golf ball towards my target and then getting upset when the wind took my golf ball in a direction that I didn’t want it to

Something that a lot of you reading this will probably relate to I expect!

Having subsequently lived in and played golf in a few considerably windier areas since then I can now give you a much simpler way to understand what it was the experienced pro was trying to tell me that day

Which I will start to explain by giving you a simple refresher on how your golf ball works

Just in case you weren’t aware of it – the major factor that makes it fly as well as it does through the air – is the effect of the back-spin that you put on every shot that you hit and those innocent looking dimples on your golf ball

By the way, yes you read that right – every golf shot that you ever hit has back-spin

Anyway, the basic equation works like this – the more speed your club-head has prior to hitting the golf ball – the higher the amount of back-spin generated is which in turn will create a higher flight of the golf ball

So, the summary of that would be – the harder you hit your golf ball the higher it goes – assuming good contact of course – which is exactly where the problems start on a windy day

As the wind is almost always stronger the higher up in the air you go

Now if you have ever wondered why that is – there are two ways that you can find the answer – the first of which is you could find a decent meteorologist and ask their opinion or after reading my disclaimer here as I have only a very basic grasp of the subject – you could take this simple answer instead:

‘Wind speeds are slower nearer the earth’s surface due to friction from the ground and the slowing effects of trees, vegetation and buildings – meaning that as height increases above any objects there is less friction and so the wind speed will be stronger’

This is the main reason why a ‘links’ style golf course that has very few (if any) trees on it will always be windier than say a ‘parkland’ style golf course

Interestingly though – unlike land – water has very little friction effect on wind which is why the breeze at a lake or the sea always seems to be stronger than it is inland

For those of you reading who have played on a golf course that has a hole or two that have large bodies of water down one side of the fairway – you will be aware that it is always windier playing on those holes than most other holes on the golf course that aren’t near the water

So what does all this mean in practice?

That combination of a higher spin rate of the golf ball and the higher wind speed above the ground is what has the most devastating effect on golfers shots – especially if, like most other golfers (and I used to be one too) they try to hit the golf ball harder

To make sure that they hit it hard enough to ‘get it through’ the wind

Here’s the bit that you really need to understand – the normal golfers reaction to playing a shot into the wind – of hitting the golf ball harder

Is actually the reason why they generally lose control of the shot

There are a couple of ways that you can minimise the effect of the wind which I’m sure that you will be aware of – taking an extra couple of clubs for the shot or by using the same club as usual and putting the ball back in your stance to reduce the loft of the club that you are hitting with

Both of them though – are of no use at all if you hit the ball harder than normal

You have to hit your shot slightly slower / easier than normal to reduce the amount of back-spin that you will put on the golf ball which in turn will give a lower flight and most importantly – will have no tendency to ‘balloon up’ and be taken sideways by the wind

Got that?

Look out for ‘Some of my best tips for playing golf on a windy day – part four’ where I will take a look at the exact opposite of hitting into the wind – hitting with the wind

There’s going to be something in that that you wouldn’t expect!

Until then

Play well


Related Posts

Some of my best tips for playing golf on a windy day

Some of my best tips for playing golf on a windy day – part two

A quick tip for hitting great tee shots

Some of my best tips for playing golf in the rain