One of the great things about golf is that we have no control over the environment and it’s never the same. Other sports are played pretty much on the same field or court from place to place. The wind is one of these factors we have to pay attention to every time we play golf. Depending on where you live and play it may be subtle or it may be intense. Whatever the case you have to know how the wind affects your shots and how to compensate for it. Here’s a look at three different situations, what they do to your golf ball, and how to best navigate each situation:
Into the WindThis is the situation you mostly think of when talking about playing in the wind. You’re sitting at the 150 marker, and the breeze is directly in your face. What should you do? The main thing to remember in this situation is that the higher you hit the shot, the more the wind will affect it. This seems obvious but many players don’t factor it in. The other thing to remember here is that the harder you hit a shot, the higher it will typically go. Use this method when hitting into the wind. Take 1-2 more clubs than normal, position the ball in the middle of your stance, make a ¾ sized backswing, and make a ¾ sized follow through. Taking more club will ensure a lower ball flight, the ball centered in the stance will do the same, and the smaller swing will ensure the swing stays under control. One thing to avoid when hitting into the wind is taking your normal club and swinging harder. This becomes difficult to control.
DownwindHitting downwind is the easiest of the situations but can have its issues as well. It’s great to stand up on the tee box and hit a drive downwind as it usually produces you're longest drives. However, it becomes difficult when trying to hit and iron shot into a green and judge the distance correctly. When hitting downwind you need to remember that the wind still affects the flight of the ball. This is why it is still better to play a lower shot when hitting downwind. It will much easier to control your distance. Use the same technique to hit the ball lower as you would playing into the wind. The only change will be your club selection. Instead of taking 1-2 more clubs you can usually get away with using your normal club for that situation with a smaller swing as the wind will add a little distance.
Hitting golf shots with crosswinds can be the toughest of all the situations. If you’re a left to right player and you have a left to right wind, you could see a lot of movement on your shot. The same is true in a right to left situation. The big thing to take into account for crosswinds is what kind of shot you normally play and what the situation is in the landing area. If you always slice the golf ball with the driver and you step up to the tee and there is water right and a left to right wind, you have an issue. Instead of taking your normal swing and watching the shot land in the water, aim well further to the left, or even better club down to a three wood or hybrid which will curve less. The same is true from the fairway. If you’re fighting a hook and you’ve got 160 with a deep bunker left, club down from a seven to six iron and aim a little further right. Taking less club will produce a lower shot which will be less affected by the wind. The wind can be frustrating but it is manageable. Use these tips and you’ll find it much easier to determine where your golf ball ends up.
Clay Hood is a PGA Golf Professional and Co-Founder/Marketing Director for Precision Pro Golf. Clay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.