I love to play golf in the winter, and here are just a few reasons why:
1. Energy lasts longer. The winter temperatures can be in the 60s and lower which is refreshing and allows my metabolism to stay steady, therefore, energy is longer lasting. Temperatures in the 80s and 90s require a higher metabolism that burns energy much faster, causing potential fatigue on the last holes.
2. Dry air is cleaner. Pollution attaches to moisture and humidity. Winter’s low humidity is excellent for allergies, and you can look forward to less sniffling, watery eyes and runny noses during your swing.
3. More sunlight absorption. Even on a cloudy day, we can absorb sunlight. Playing golf in the winter gets us outside, creating 30% more Vitamin D and Serotonin, which promotes a more positive mood, resulting in better sleep. Also, it is a scientific fact you learn better outside, so taking golf lessons or playing golf in winter is a great alternative to staying inside. Many malls have changed to outdoor town centers because shoppers enjoy walking outside between stores, which invigorates sales.
4. A chance to focus your efforts. Often, the golf industry has fewer activities in winter, which interferes with regularly practicing the fundamentals and working on form. Here are a few winter golf suggestions:
a. Utilize the off-season to take a lesson and work on your weak areas.
b. Utilize the free time to practice what you learned in the lesson.
c. Find a practice partner to play with and add some fun to your practice.
d. Walk, rather than ride, when you play to strengthen the legs, which adds more distance.
e. Enjoy having the course to yourself and practice different strategies.
5. Wintry conditions teach many valuable principles.
a. “When it is breezy swing easy.”
When you swing with control there is less negative spin on the ball. The faster the swing, the more spin increases, causing the ball to be overly influenced by the wind.
b. “To get the ball in flight, grip it light.”
Many golfers grip the club too tight, which slows the swing and makes it inconsistent.
c. Scottish golf strategy may lower your score. If the ground is firm, use the bump and run shots which are more consistent than high pitch shots. If the ground is damp, use the pitch shot for flying the ball over sticky ground which will stop it.
d. Texas Wedge is a putter used to keep the ball out of the wind.
6. Everyone loses distance in the winter. Golf balls in the winter are like cold chewing gum that is hardened and not elastic, therefore, they lose their bounce, somewhat like winter-chilled muscles that cause loss of range of motion and speed.
How to overcome:
a. Warm up muscles before you go outside, then dress in layers, which will keep the heat in. Try to stay active until you start your game.
b. Keep golf balls in your pockets with a hand warmer.
c. Bring clubs inside at night and clean grips with soapy, warm water.
d. Swing with an extra club, knowing that your body is moving slower.
e. Walk more to stay warm, keep your muscles loose and strengthen your legs.
f. Put Mentholatum on the bottoms of your feet on really cold days. This will send heat up your body.
g. Wear dark clothes to absorb the sun’s rays.
7. Understand the equipment/rules.
a. Use the Winter Rules/Preferred Lies. This provision allows golfers to “protect the course to promote fair and pleasant play.” Make sure you take advantage of the lift, clean and place rule. Lift and clean your ball, even if you look down and it appears clean and is lying well. Any mud on the bottom of the ball will affect the flight of your next shot, so make sure the ball is totally clean. Just be careful not to wipe your ball on the green as this can be construed as “TESTING THE SURFACE.”
Written by, Doug Weaver, ranked the #2 Instructor in South Carolina by Golf Digest and a former PGA Touring Pro, who is the Director of Instruction at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy and leads “Where Does the Power Come From?” a complimentary golf clinic and exhibition on Mondays at 4 p.m. For details and reservations for golf clinics, classes, lessons and on- course instruction, call (843) 785-1138, (800) 827-3006 or visit palmettodunes.com.