Golf: How Weather Affects Your Gameplay
Updated: Jun 12
Golf, being an outdoor sporting activity, is subject to the elements of weather, such as wind, rain, heat, cold, lightning, etc. Checking the weather forecast before a round of golf is definitely a prudent move, as are dressing and accessorizing appropriately.
In some locations, being prepared is the most practical approach while checking the weather might be semi futile, especially during the wet season or storm-prone areas. Sometimes bad weather is just part of the script.
In addition to weather considerations, the course conditions have to be taken into cognizance since the two factors affect how the game is played, putting pressure on golfers to adjust their gameplay and strategy accordingly. As with most outdoor sports, weather adjustments can prove difficult to implement without the right skillsets and a good understanding of how weather affects both golf gameplay and the golf course.
Undoubtedly weather affects golf gameplay, with certain types of weather causing more mayhem with the flight of the golf ball than others.
Golfers are affected by weather conditions such as rain, and wind. For example, decisions on shot-shaping (or shot-crafting) become increasingly more complicated, such that even tour professionals are not sparred by the elements and are routinely humbled by nature. Due to the varied effect of each weather factor, they are best treated separately.
Rain, Wet and Soggy Conditions
Most golfers will avoid playing in the rain if possible, but sometimes this cannot be helped. Rain can make playing golf very difficult - translate as almost no chance of scoring well in the wet, so it is smart play to lower expectations and embrace the challenge.
With the rains, you can expect wet greens to roll slower and be harder to read; wet bunker sand can be a nightmare, as can playing out from other hazards. The rain causes major problems with gripping the club in wet conditions, so golfers not used to playing in the rain will find that playing on a wet course results in erratic tee shots, and putts become much slower, the greens are harder to read as they become dampened.
The contact at the ball/club interface can be unpredictable, making it especially important to ensure golf clubs are kept dry to improve ball striking consistency.
Depending on how wet the conditions are, it might be worth bringing out the spikes for extremely wet or soggy conditions - spikeless golf shoes still do not offer the same level of traction in the wet as their spiked counterparts. Water-resistant golf shoes, rainproof golf bag, rain gloves, and a raincoat or an umbrella, preferably an oversized one.
One factor associated with rain is that many golfers do not consider that a player's feet will sink into the ground, making them feel uncomfortable and unnatural as they address the ball.
The prospect of lightning should always be on a golfer’s mind, especially in the warmer months.
The wind is a formidable force on a golf course because of the effect it can have on ball flight. A ball hit with a tailwind behind it will travel farther than if there was no breeze, and a ball hit into a stiff headwind will not travel as far as normal. This makes club selection for approach shots into the green that much harder, with the golfer compensating accordingly for the windy conditions by choosing a higher or lower-numbered club.
Wind can also be much stronger further up in the air than closer to the ground, forcing the golfer to gauge how to approach a shot. Crosswinds can knock a ball off its projected path and bring hazards into play (such as water or sand), challenging golfers' skill and confidence in their club selection.
Beginner golfers and high handicappers will have a hard time gauging the effects of the wind on their game and will make many mistakes before getting a feel for how to adjust. Lower handicapped golfers would be adept at hitting low flight shots and may use this type of shot to good effect when windy.
Cold or Hot Weather
Both hot or cold weather can be uncomfortable on the golf course, but with extreme heat, there is the risk of heatstroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration, etc. While it is true that a golf ball will not travel quite as far when the weather is cold and the humidity low, the biggest effect that cold weather has on a golfer is the physical toll it takes on their concentration.
The British Open, which is played on courses next to the ocean in many cases, is a classic example of some of the world’s best golfers having to handle cold conditions. When cold is combined with wind, it can require a golfer to summon all his mental powers to stay focused on their shot-making.
Stay safe and respect the weather!