How Does Weather Affect the Game of Golf?

By John Lindell
Rain can make playing golf very difficult.
Rain can make playing golf very difficult.

There is little doubt that weather has an affect on a golfer’s game, with certain types of weather raising more havoc with the flight of the golf ball than others. The golfer can be affected as well, with conditions such as cold, rain, and wind making decisions on how to approach shots that much more difficult.


Wind is one of the golfer’s worst enemies because of the affect 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 wind will not travel as far as normal. This makes selecting the proper club for approach shots into a green much harder than it usually is, with the golfer having to compensate for the windy conditions by choosing a higher or lower numbered club accordingly. Beginner golfers will have a hard time gauging the effects of the wind on their game and make many mistakes before getting a feel for how to adjust. Wind can also be much stronger up in the air than it is on the ground, forcing the golfer to gauge how to approach a shot. Crosswinds can knock a ball off its projected path and bring it into hazards such as water or sand, and a golfer not confident in her club selection because of the wind will often mishit a ball.


Most golfers will avoid playing in the rain if at all possible, but sometimes this cannot be helped. The rain causes major problems with the golfer’s grip on his club as he scrambles to keep his hands and clubs dry from the falling water droplets. The golfer’s concentration can be lowered by rainy weather, and golfers not used to playing in the rain will find that the wet course results in tee shots not going as far and putts becoming much slower and harder to read on the greens as they become dampened. The prospect of lightning should always be on a golfer’s mind, especially in the warmer months. One factor associated with rain that many golfers do not take into account is that an individual's feet will sink into the ground, making them feel uncomfortable and unnatural as they address the ball.


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 to rattle her concentration and make her uncomfortable. Someone standing over a golf shot when the temperature is cold needs to channel all of her energies into thinking about the shot and not the weather. 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 his shot-making.

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