With temps dropping, daylight waning, and Christmas trees being erected, it can mean only one thing — winter is coming. For some, that might mean the clubs are being stored away in the back of the closet until spring, but for others, it’s the beginning of a whole new season: winter golf.
When I moved to the Northeast from temperate Texas and its temperate winters, this was a new concept for me. Playing golf year-round is customary in the South, but north of the Mason-Dixon line, that proposition becomes a bit tricky. But after a couple years up North, I’ve learned that winter golf is possible up here, it just requires a different approach.
Now, I’m by no means an expert on winter golf, but as a stubborn Texas expat who refuses to recognize golf’s offseason, I have learned some tricks for playing through the winter. Here are my eight best tips.
Don’t wear a bulky coat out to the course. Instead, insulate your body heat with a series of layers. A vest is one of my favorite layering pieces as it keeps my body warm without restricting my swing. Hoodies are perfect for this, too.
I walk about 90 percent of the time I play, but in the winter it’s critical. Walking is an easy way to keep you warm between shots, plus you get your steps in for the day.
Warm your hands
Feel is a crucial part of golf, and it all starts in your hands, so you’ve got to keep them warm in the winter. Pack a pair of mittens to wear between shots or slip some hand warmers in your pockets. Whatever your preference, just remember to keep the blood flowing through your extremities.
Pack a hat
Make sure to keep your head warm, too. Throw a knit cap in your bag and pull it out when the weather gets really bad. It’s about function over fashion during the winter.
The ball will not travel as far during the winter, so don’t be afraid to swallow your pride and club up. If you try to hit the same shots you’d hit during the middle of the summer, you’re in for a long day. Winter golf is a different game, and you should treat it as such.
Tee it forward
Don’t be afraid to move up a tee box (or two). Playing the same tee box that you would during the summer is only going to make things more difficult. If you want to make birdies during the winter, you’re going to need to play a shorter course.
Mix it up
Winter golf is a great opportunity to hone your shot making ability. The conditions will be tough, so your stock driving-range shots aren’t likely to be effective. Get creative with your shots as you battle the elements. Come spring, your game will be much more well-rounded.
Don’t worry about your score
Because of USGA handicap rules, posting scores during the winter months isn’t legal, so you won’t have to worry about a bad round hurting your index. Playing during the winter is about getting in reps and keeping your swing loose, not for posting a personal best.