Adjusting For The Wind On All Shots
If you play enough golf, you will without a doubt have to deal with the wind. Playing in the wind is a fact of life in Colorado where I coach. If you are able to navigate the course on a blustery day, you can add extra rounds to your golf season and add shots to your game that you can use any time, even if its not windy. Today we are going to explore tips and tricks to help navigate those windy days on the links, as well as shed some light on some common misconceptions that many people believe about playing in the wind that might actually be the opposite of what you are supposed to do.
- Hitting Into The Wind: You should actually tee the ball up higher if you want to maximize distance. Teeing it higher will allow you to hit up through the ball and hit it higher on the face of the club. This leads to a much lower spin rate and a shot that will bore well through the wind.
- Hitting Into A Crosswind: You will want to use the wind to your advantage here. Moving the ball with the wind, or in the same direction, leads to greater distance on the shot. Moving the ball against the wind leads to straighter, more accurate shots, but a loss in distance as well. Many of us cannot curve the ball any direction we want with precision, so use the same guidelines as hitting into the wind to start to help you recognize what will happen to your shot.
- Hitting Downwind: Hitting downwind can be fun off the tee with all the extra distance, but a nightmare into the green. Hitting downwind from anywhere on the course reduces the effect of backspin and as a result will cause the ball to land flatter both into the fairway and into the green. That means more carry on the shot and a lot more roll out. Consider this when determining where you want your shot to end up when hitting downwind.
Common Misconception: Play the ball in the back of your stance and hit down steeply to create a lower “stinger” type of knockdown shot.
Playing this type of shot will actually create more backspin and a higher shot, especially into the wind. It might start low, but the extra backspin will make the ball rise fast and lose distance even faster.
What You Should Actually Do: Instead of playing the ball back in your stance, keep the ball position in the middle. Grab 1, 2, or maybe even 3 clubs extra (depending on the strength of the wind) and swing easier.
This does three things for you: the lower loft will lower the trajectory of the shot. Mixing the lower loft with the lower swing speed will create lower spin, keeping the ball from rising fast. And lastly, the swing is now much shorter so you will maintain a sturdy base and balance in the wind.
In my research, I have found that a 10 MPH breeze will move your ball 1 club worth of distance in the direction it is blowing. That means that a 10 MPH breeze will move your ball 12 yards if that is the yardage you hit between clubs, 8 yards if that is the gap between clubs, etc. It will vary from player to player but is a way to gauge how much extra club you may need.
Short Game Shots
Wind affects these shots too! Pitching into a stronger breeze will all but stop your shots’ roll out. Conversely, chipping and pitching downwind will make it roll out a lot more. The ball can even move side to side from as little as 30 yards from the hole. When pitching into the wind, follow the same rules as the approach shot. Take a stronger club and swing easier. This will help you control spin and help the shot roll out like you thought it would.
This is all about feeling comfortable and confident. You should take a slightly wider stance and bend down a bit more to really anchor yourself against the wind. If you can, try not to hover over the ball too long before you make your stroke. The longer you hover, the more unstable you will start to feel. You will lose focus on the putt itself and start thinking about the wind.
Wind affects putts as well, but not as much as you might think. Unless you are a great scratch player or a professional, you really don’t need to worry about wind affecting the roll of the ball. In reality, it is only a couple of inches in a medium breeze. Instead, focus on your comfort level and setup.
At the end of the day, we can’t control the weather. We can only learn to live with it and deal with it. The more you play in the wind and learn how it affects your shots around the course, the better you will become at judging the club you need to hit. In your mind, try to tell yourself that judging the wind is just 1 more variable to the shot like the yardage or elevation. As you learn to judge it correctly, follow the guidelines above and ALWAYS SWING WITHIN YOURSELF; playing with the wind doesn’t mean swing harder. You will enjoy and maybe even look forward to those windy rounds on the course.
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