6 Tips for Playing in Windy Conditions

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I tried to play golf the other day.

The weatherman said that the wind was gusting at 15 mph, but I’m convinced it was at least a constant 35. It was rough (no pun intended).

Wind can be exhausting and challenging. Trying to control a tiny ball that weighs less than two ounces in those conditions can seems like an impossible task. There are moments where you just stand over the ball and know that the wind is going to get the best of you, but you take the swing anyway.

Some people might’ve called it quits instead of continuing to play, but not me. I’m sure a lot of you reading this article are the same way. Other people may call us crazy, but we just like to say we’re passionate.

A windy day is a new challenge and a chance to test our skills in a different way, but that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating at the same time. When playing golf in the wind, there are a couple things you can do to improve your chances of scoring well.

Swing Easy

First, it might sound cliché, but it’s true…when it’s breezy, swing easy. That means, resist the urge to swing harder just because you’re hitting it into the wind. That’ll throw off your timing and balance; two things you don’t want to sacrifice in windy conditions.

A harder swing also increases your spin rate, which will either cause the ball to elevate too much or dramatically curve with the direction of the wind. The truth is, most people can’t beat a strong wind just by swinging harder. It only makes the shot worse.

I always like to say that there are two main swing factors that determine distance; swing speed and centeredness of contact. Never sacrifice centeredness of contact for swing speed though. When we try to power up and swing faster, it makes it even harder to make good, solid impact.

Try swinging at 80-85% intensity instead of 100% and you’ll give yourself a better chance of hitting the center of the face. A shot hit true will hold up much better in the wind.

Club Selection

Next, because you’re swinging easier, you’ll have to club up a bit. I’d much rather see people hit more club and swing easy than try to hit their normal club really hard. At the end of this article I’ll give you a tip on club selection, but for now, just don’t be afraid to hit more club than you think.

Most of us think we can hit the ball farther than we actually can. So, swallow your pride a bit and know that your tendency will be to overestimate your distances by 5-10 yards.

Shot of a young man playing golf

View Stock Photo of Gone Golfing. Find premium, high-resolution photos at Getty Images.

A lot of people will try to take less club and swing harder just to show their playing partners that they can hang with the big hitters (I’m guilty of this). Resist this temptation at all cost. If given the choice, I think we’d all rather hit greens and shoot lower scores than hit the ball farther.

Stay Balanced

Third, you need to make sure you maintain your balance throughout the entire swing. A strong wind will magnify any balance issues you have.

If you normally hang too far back in your swing and you happen to get a wind into your face, you’ll probably find yourself falling backwards more than normal; the opposite is also true. So, to improve your stability, widen your stance a little bit. This will give you a lower center of gravity and provide you better balance as your swinging.

Play for the Wind

Also, don’t forget to play for the wind. I’m sure that seems pretty obvious, but if you’ve got a right to left wind, aim more right than normal. Remember, you’re not going to beat the wind, so you have to learn to play with it. If your miss-hit is right and the wind is straight into your face, then any miss will be magnified. A stiff breeze into your face will exaggerate your misses.

The American flag and USGA flags fly in the wind during the final…

The American flag and USGA flags fly in the wind during the final round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 18, 2017 in Hartford, Wisconsin. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images

It’s possible to use a side wind to hit the ball farther too. If you’re standing on the tee with a right to left wind, aim right and hit a shot that moves right to left (a draw for a right-handed player). This will allow you to “ride” the wind for more distance rather than fight it. Learn to hit a draw or fade on-demand so that you’ll be able to take advantage of different wind directions and hit the ball farther.

Ball Position

In order to lessen the impact of a stiff breeze, you’ll want to hit the ball lower than normal. In order to accomplish this, play the ball back further in your stance.

Try putting it back about an inch farther back than normal and you’ll find that the ball comes out lower and stays under the wind better.

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Final Tip

Finally, a general rule of thumb is that for every 10 mph of wind into your face, you’ll need to hit about 1 more club. So, if you have 150 yards to the green and you would normally hit a 7 iron, but there is 10 mph win, you’ll need to hit a 6 iron.

Obviously, this isn’t a universal rule because other factors like elevation (macro & micro) come into play as well, but adapt that rule to your specific location. Where I live, at about 1,000 feet above sea level, 10 mph equaling 1 club is a pretty good rule. I’ve also lived at 7,600 feet though and that rule is slightly different. Figure out how the rule changes for you and commit it to memory.

If you use these simple tips when playing in the wind, I’m sure you’ll see a significant improvement in your game.

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About Eric Peyton

Eric Peyton has been playing and teaching the game professionally at golf courses all over the Midwest since 2006. Previously, he was a pro at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, KS, a top 30 golf course in the United States. He now owns and operates his own golf business, Eric Peyton Golf, out of Des Moines, IA, where his passion is for helping people love the game.

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