Why you should be out on the course this winter!

As the days slowly merge from summer into autumn and the nights start to draw in, for many golfers it is the time of year when they consider stowing the clubs for another year as their opportunities to play, especially for evening golfers, are limited by the shortening hours of daylight.

I must admit, I was one of these golfers for many years. I didn’t particularly enjoy winter golf as such and I was a bit of wimp. I didn’t like the fact that those extra layers seemed to impact my golf swing. I hated the fact that there were branches, leaves and other detritus on the course which could kick even a decent shot into an awkward lie in the rough and most of all, I hated those pockmarked, uneven, temporary greens.

This year however, is different. Having made big strides this year with how I am hitting the ball and feeling like my game is really starting to come together after several years of being stagnant, I know that six months of not playing will put me back to square one in 2014.

So this year, I’m dusting off the wet weather gear, packing extra layers, swapping the ice pack for a thermos and going to head out onto the course when time, conditions and weather allows it.

Golfers-on-Lausanne-golf-course

As I am based in the UK I am fortunate in that our courses seldom close for very long. While other parts of Europe may have to resort to playing snow golf on glaciers, or see their course hidden under several inches of snow for months at a time, that isn’t the case in the UK. Our relatively benign climate affords us the chance to continue to play golf throughout the winter, if we’re prepared to put up with the somewhat miserable conditions.

However, it is worth persevering and continuing to play throughout the winter and here’s why:

1. Preferred lies

There is nothing worse than seeing a great tee shot plug in the soggy fairway. Fortunately at most courses in the winter, they will play preferred lies. Which means not only can you pick your ball up and clean it, but also place it close to the original position, but in a much better position for your next shot.

2. Fewer but better quality temporary greens

A few years back, temporary greens were my personal bugbear when it came to winter golf. They were hideous quality in the main and made putting almost haphazard. Nowadays, greens are much more resilient, they drain better and as such can be used longer and also temporary greens are also of a much better quality making putting less of a trial.

Poor Quality golf greens

3. You keep swinging the club, you will keep making improvements

Putting your clubs away for six months is not going to help your golf game and if, like me, you feel you have made significant progress this year, then you’ll want that to continue. Hit the range and get out on the course when you can and the work you’ve put in over the summer months should pay dividends in the winter and beyond.

4. Quieter and cheaper golf courses

One of the biggest bonuses for winter golfers is that many courses are less busy than in the warmer months and as such, rounds can be completed much more quickly. In addition, to attract golfers clubs will offer winter pricing at a lower price meaning you can afford to play more rounds for the same amount of cash in winter.

5. A different challenge

Perhaps the real beauty of winter golf is that it is even playing your local course is a completely different challenge in the winter. Softer conditions mean there is less roll on the ball, approach shots can and will stop very quickly on the greens, you hit the club less further in the wind and rain, so you need to factor in all this into a round. Doing so helps you become a far better all round golfer.

So if you are going to keep the clubs out and ready to go during the colder months, I salute you, but do remember these useful winter golf tips.

1. Wrap up warm, but remain able to swing.

If the weather is cold and wet, you’ll need protection from it to avoid a round becoming an ordeal. Layer up and invest in some good quality wind and rainproof outer golf wear. It’ll keep you warm and dry while still allowing you the full range of movement to take your swing.

2. Warm up before the round thoroughly

With temperatures lower, muscles are going to be colder than in the summer, so it is absolutely vital that you do not skimp on a warm up before you play. Give yourself time before you tee off to warm up thoroughly. It is very easy to tweak a back, hamstring, groin or calf in cold weather if you have not given yourself enough of a warm up beforehand.

3. Ditch the cap or visor for a woolly hat

In the winter, retaining warmth on a round is vital to allow you to stay focused on the golf and not your shivering. Your head is the most exposed part of your body so leave the cap at home and get yourself a thick, insulated woolly hat or similar.

4. Remember hot drinks and hand warmers on the really cold days.

If you are playing on a very cold day, then remember to pack yourself a thermos of a hot drink or two. Another handy idea are the small hand warmers that can be bought in ski and survival shops that you can put in your pocket and hold in your hand between shots to keep your hands and fingers warm.

5. Think of the group behind you

It’s easy to lose a ball in winter golf, but do think of the group behind you. While your group may be warm, rummaging around the undergrowth for a lost ball. Those on the tee behind, stood still waiting are likely to be cold. Let them play through while you look and not only will you stay warm, they will too.

Images Courtesy of Ian John, Gorilla Golf Stock, Selby Golf Club

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