Weather Conditions In Golf – How They Affect Your Game

When watching golf we almost always see the sun shining, the skies blue and the wind still. These conditions are ideal when booking your next tee time but the stars don’t always align. Depending where you live in the world, the weather may be often windy, overcast, wet, dry or humid or all of the above. Despite certain conditions being more suitable for golf than others, you may be forced to adapt to the conditions if you want to keep playing year round.

Having a better understanding weather conditions in golf and how they affect you and your golf ball on the course, will allow you to adjust accordingly. Having the know how might even make your experience in unpreferable conditions tolerable, or even enjoyable.

Wet Conditions

Wet and rainy weather can impacts all aspects of golf including;

  • How far the ball travels / club selection
  • How easily the ball comes out of bunkers
  • How slow the ball rolls on the putting greens

Travel Distance

The added resistance created by wet conditions (in the form of volume or weight) affects how the golf ball travels through the air. The slighest changes to the aerodynamics of how the golf ball directly affects the flight and spin. Added resistence in the form of water both in the air and on the ball will prevent the ball from travelling with as little resistence as possible, reducing spin and thus shortening distance.

As a means to counteract the effects of wet conditions, you should select a longer club to balance the distance otherwise lost. If you are in the rain, 140 yards away from the pin and would usually hit your pitching wedge, you are likely better off hitting your 9 iron. The severity of the conditions will determine the extent you compensate to make up for lost distance.

Bunker Play

Playing out of wet bunkers can be extemely difficult. My best advice would be to avoid the bunkers at all costs if you can do so. Rain hardens the sand within the bunker. The compaction of the sand can make the soil both heavy or hard. In either instance, you’ll need to assess the degree to which the sand has absorbed the rainwater and play your shot accordingly. Ensuring you take enough sand behind the ball when you take your shot is the best way to combat the potential of hitting the ball to thin or out the bunker and across the otherside of the green.

Putting Greens

The most noticable change brought by wet conditions are slow putting greens. At some point we have been on the greens, hit our putt and been shocked as to how much our putt came up short to the flag. These may be encountered more frequently as once rain has come and gone, the greens may remain damp for an hour or two. Course maintenance and morning dew may also dampen the greens for longer. Always be aware of the dampness of the greens before you head out for your first tee. A good way to get an indication of how fast or slow the greens around the course will be is to warmup on the putting greens before your tee time.

Windy Conditions

Playing golf in windy conditions can be tricky as the speed and direction the wind is blowing in will vary from hole to hole. Hitting into the wind will reduce distance through both resistance and added spin. Hitting into the wind can exaggerate the spin on the golf ball, creating a much higher apex thus lowering the carry distance. The opposite is true for a tail wind, with the wind accelerating the ball through the air creating top spin. A lower apex does not always mean further distance travelled, however the distance from where the golf ball carried to and the total distance travelled after it hits the ground will be greater.

The requirement to adjust your club selection is not mandatory when the conditions are mild but it is important to note as the wind conditions 100 feet in the air are more extreme at these elevations. For crosswinds, if you’re contemplating hitting a draw or fade to counteract the wind, the conditions are likely not ideal to be playing in to begin with. If you’re one of us common golfers (those of us yet to master a draw or fade), you’ll be better off with hitting your usual swing with slight direction adjustments to the left or right.

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Steve, your digital Ecaddie sharing pro golf tips, how to guides, top golf news and equipment maintenance. I'm here to help you perform better on the golf course!

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