“The wind was whipping” was the refrain as he left Royal County Down having struggled to an even 100. Golf in the wind: its inevitable with the weather in Ireland, it’s just a question of degree, anywhere from a gentle breeze to ‘lively’ to be expected. So the most important mentality when playing golf in the wind is to ’embrace it’. Remember that wind was an integral part of the game when golf was played in its original less pasteurized and homogenized state. Embrace it – love the challenge of factoring it into your shots, love the challenge of hitting the variety of new shots required, and laugh at the madness of nailing a 5 iron 130 yards into the teeth of a wind.
OK you’ve embraced it! What now? The great Tom Watson won 5 Open Championships (we still haven’t got over the 6th that got away!), all of them in Scotland. Interestingly Watson was not a great links golf fan to begin with. It was not until 1979 the he had his links epiphany… it was in the Open at Royal Lytham… in the first round the 7th a par 5 of 549 yards, playing into the wind required a driver, 3-wood and 5 iron to reach the green. The next day it was downwind. He reached it with driver and 9 iron for a birdie. “That was the moment I fell in love with the links. I told myself. Enjoy it. Solve the puzzle.” He embraced it so much in Ireland that Tom Watson is synonymous with Ballybunion Golf Club helping to redesign both courses and serving as honorary captain at Ballybunion Golf Club in 2000.
OK so you’ve embraced golf in the wind so what now? Lets get technical and talk about the “what” to do. Remember this advice above all: “When it’s breezy, swing easy”
Hitting into the wind:
- Fight the urge to swing harder; an easier swing will keep the ball down.
- Take more club: Don’t be afraid to go 1, 2 or even 3 clubs up. and swing at 75 percent. Fast swings create more backspin and send the ball higher, so resist the urge to smash it.
- Move the ball back in your stance.
- Move you weight more onto your left side than normal.
- Grip down and make a shorter back swing.
- Finish low to hit it low.
- Watson: The key to hitting downwind is to swing full speed to spin the ball more and fly it higher. It’s hard to do because the breeze flattens the trajectory, even though the ball will travel farther with the added roll.
- Assume normal ball position and setup and make a full swing.
- It will be harder to stop your shot so allow for roll out when determining distance.
Hitting into a cross wind:
- If you can work the ball in directions, you want to work the ball INTO the wind. Visually think of banking the shot into the wind.
- A three quarter swing will give you more control.
- A controlled, on balance swing is still the best swing for you.