12 January 2018
Golfing in winter
How to keep your game from freezing over
When you think about playing golf, what is the first thing that springs to mind? Blue skies with the sun shining down on you, a busy course and the chatter of other players around you. People tend to enjoy the game throughout the spring and summer months thanks to the lovely weather and the social occasion but, as winter approaches, conditions can make playing golf challenging to say the least.
It’s not always easy to get out on the course when the weather draws in, so we asked some top local professionals for their best insight and advice on braving the elements and keeping your game in shape for the whole year round.
Poor conditions are usually the main aspect that will restrict people from playing golf from September through March; local courses could be closed depending on the severity of the weather and some may resort to temporary greens after heavy frosts.
Ben Mason has been a PGA Professional since 1999 and currently coaches at iGolfStudio in Sheffield: “Many golfers don’t feel comfortable wearing waterproof clothing or many layers because they believe it inhibits their swing, so they would prefer to avoid playing through the winter. However, there are some excellent products out there now that are less restrictive to swing a golf club in and also keep golfers warm.”
Ben Mason - PGA Professional
Peter Ball was awarded the coveted title of PGA Master Professional in 2017 and lead the Sheffield Inclusive Golf Project, playing a key role in the development of the city’s own Danny Willett who went on to win the prestigious US Masters in 2016. “You might want to buy a size larger than normal to allow you to swing naturally”, he says, advocating particular attention to the bottom and top most layers, as well as the extremities. “Wearing good thermal underwear and thermal golf gloves with over mitts will make the difference, along with thick socks and a warm hat.”
Ben adds, “many golfers prefer to play during the summer months when it’s light until 9pm because this allows them to go and play a few holes after work. In winter however, it’s dark by 4pm and this can limit people who still want to play.” Luckily, there are increasingly more indoor simulator facilities opening now which means people can play a virtual round without the waterproof gear and freezing cold hands. “Also, driving ranges are an excellent option to keep the swing going and most are often open quite late so golfers are able to go after they finish work.”
As another alternative, winter is the perfect time to take lessons at an indoor facility to prepare yourself for the warmer months. “If you invest in a good coach, they have the ability to help you assess the previous season and make plans going forward; this could mean helping you upgrade your swing or any other aspect of your performance that you’re eager to improve.”
Peter Ball PGA Master Professional
If the idea of playing golf through the winter doesn’t make you shiver, Ben believes that you have a strong advantage over the golfers that put their clubs back in the garage until the sunshine returns. You won’t have lost your swing like others because you’ve continued playing and practicing.
If you do decide to seek help from a coach, they will guide you to the best course of action and will always be eager to help you improve. If nothing else, that alone can keep you motivated to keep visiting the range on those cold, dark evenings. Ben is even more emphatic regarding those who play at a competitive level: “someone who has been playing in winter competitions will simply be sharper straight away when the next season comes around.”
One of the biggest advantages of playing golf over the winter months is the benefits to your health. Keeping active all year round keeps you fit and healthy and, as tempting as it is to sit on the sofa under a blanket, getting outdoors and staying active through something like golf has the ability to keep you healthier, longer.
In addition to this, the social aspect to the game shouldn’t be underestimated, especially for older generations. “By playing through winter, a golfer can stay in touch with his or her friends more than they would, and people of working age can maintain a better work/life balance”, says Ben. Who knows, you might even end up making new acquaintances out on the foggy fairways when everyone else is sat at home.
Ben Mason - PGA Professional
Pete believes that just because you’re out on the course when conditions are less than ideal doesn’t mean you have to suffer unnecessarily: “Play only nine, or even six holes. Take a flask of tea or coffee to sip along the way, and consider a smaller set of clubs you can carry around yourself.” After all, getting a round in should be enjoyable and not punishment.
Ben’s top tip is perhaps the easiest to achieve, and certainly the cheapest: “Enjoy it as much as you can. It can be very easy to get grumpy about the condition of the golf course or the cold temperatures. If you can be the golfer playing with a smile on your face in all conditions you’ll have a really good chance of playing well.”
So, to recap:
1. During winter, your biggest enemies are poor weather and lack of daylight. Combat these by:
- Investing in some purpose-made cold weather golf clothing which will keep you warm and dry without inhibiting your swing too much.
- Seeking out indoor simulator centres or driving ranges which open later in the evenings and allow you to practice in more comfortable conditions
2. Maintaining some level of golfing activity over winter will keep your technique in better shape compared to those who put their clubs away until Spring.
- Capitalise on this by considering some lessons with a coach, who can help you iron out any problems with technique and make you hit the ground running once the fair weather players reemerge.
- Don’t shy away from making a few adaptations to make your time on the course as enjoyable as possible - hot drinks, shorter rounds and reduced club sets.
3. Golf = exercise = keeping healthy. Not only is it wise to stay in shape all year round, but you might just stave off those winter colds a bit better by maintaining your fitness levels.
4. Smile and enjoy it - you’re playing golf!
Peter Ball, PGA Master Professional can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.