A few years ago, the Montana high school state golf championship was played through a snowstorm.  The athletes worked their way around a snow filled course, while parents and spectators helped them follow and locate their golf balls.  Golfing in the winter definitely presents many challenges, and those of us who are avid golfers can certainly appreciate the dedication of these student athletes from Montana.  For the dedicated winter golfers out there, this blog will highlight some things related to playing in the cold!

One thing to consider in regard to winter golf is that the ball will not travel as far. The cold conditions and wind can make it difficult to hit the ball as far as you usually would in warmer conditions, and 5-20 yards of distance can easily be lost. Because of that, sometimes it can be necessary to hit a longer club than you would normally hit for a particular shot.  Cold golf balls will be even harder to hit with great distance, and that will also limit your distance in the winter.  Last winter, I was playing with an experienced winter golfer and he gave me a great tip on how to keep your golf balls warm during your round. He said he keeps hand warmers in his pockets during his round, and keeps an extra ball in his pocket sitting on top of the hand warmer.  Doing this has great benefits for winter golfers, as it can warm your golf ball up while also keeping your hands warm.  I also like to take a few golf balls out of my bag before I leave for the course, so I can warm them up in my car before playing; this helps with the ball’s compression rating.  Distance will certainly be lost in the winter, but hitting a longer club and avoiding the use of cold golf balls can help improve your chances of success in the winter!

The conditions featured on the golf course in the winter are typically much different than the conditions seen in the summer.  Typically, courses are muddier and wetter than usual, resulting in muddy golf balls and less roll on the fairways. Because of the tough conditions, many courses and golf groups will play by the “winter rules,” which help golfers play through the conditions, and also aim to protect the course from excessive damage. The main rule seen throughout the winter is the lift, clean, and place rule, where players are allowed to clean their golf ball and place it within 6 inches of its original resting place.  This rule can be used to avoid hitting a muddy golf ball and is an accepted rule within most winter golf outings. The softer ground also leads to more embedded golf balls, so the lift, clean, and place rule can also be used to avoid excessively tearing up the course by whacking at an embedded golf ball in an effort to get the ball out of the ground and moving forward.  In addition to that, it is important to be aware of potential delays in early morning tee times due to frost.  Frost delays take place when frost covers the greens and the course.  Playing on greens full of frost can severely damage them, so frost delays are common in the winter on colder mornings. 

MARANA, AZ: A Callaway golf ball is seen on the course as the start of the continuation of round one was delayed due to snow during the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain on February 21, 2013 in Marana, Arizona. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Obviously, the cold weather is a huge factor when golfing in the winter.  I prefer to wear multiple warm layers as opposed to one large and bulky coat to keep me warm. It can sometimes be difficult to achieve a full swing while wearing a bulky coat, so wearing long sleeved layers can be beneficial.  Also, consider walking in the winter instead of taking a cart!  Driving in a golf cart can make it feel extra cold, as the wind and cooler air will constantly hit you in between shots. You will likely warm up quicker while walking, so it is a great option for the winter. 

Playing golf in cold winter conditions definitely requires a strong passion for the game, and can be very rewarding for your game.  For those of you who do not like to play during the winter (who can blame you), this can be a great time to regrip your clubs or get fitted for new ones.  Regripping clubs is an essential task and is important in maintaining your clubs, so the winter can be a great time to do that.

-Sam Cresta, Assistant Golf Professional at American Classic Golf Club

As 2021 (finally) rolls around, I think all of us can look forward to putting 2020 behind us and beginning 2021 optimistic and motivated.  As we talked about last week in our blog, the game of golf grew drastically throughout 2020.  Many new people began taking up golf this year, and a lot of others got back into the game for the first time in many years.  Regardless of experience or skill level, everyone can improve in some area of their game. This blog will discuss potential golf resolutions to strive for in 2021, and hopefully you will be inspired to achieve some of these goals!

To start, here is a simple resolution: practice more!  While playing is a great way to improve, the best way to really lower your scores is to practice in addition to playing actual rounds. Spending some time at a driving range or hitting net can be a great way to work on your game and develop consistency.  If you typically get out to play a round once or twice per week and do not practice in between, you will be surprised to see how much you can improve by practicing just once per week!  When practicing, short game can often be neglected so make sure to also spend some time on the practice greens putting and chipping.  For those of you looking to lower scores in 2021, consider adding some practice time to your weekly routines to supplement your actual rounds!

Another important resolution that ties into practicing more is developing proper habits.  Practicing often with improper habits will not help you improve or develop consistency regardless of how often you practice.  In many cases, it can be more beneficial to practice once or twice per week with proper habits than to practice every day with improper ones.  In addition to practicing with the proper fundamentals, it can also be great to practice with a purpose. For example, dedicating one practice session to just the grip, rather than just swinging without purpose or plan can greatly help you improve in a specific target area.  Focusing on one area per session can help you create strong and correct habits.  Since it can be difficult learning and understanding the proper swing mechanics, consider taking a lesson this year!  To start, just one or two lessons can teach you the basic mechanics like grip, posture, ball position, and how to start/finish the swing.  Once you understand the basics, you can begin targeting each area at specific practice sessions.  The goal of a good golf swing is to be able to consistently repeat your swing, so learning and developing correct habits is the best way to do that. 

In addition to dedicating practice time to working on specific skills and mechanics, improving your “golf fitness” can help your game tremendously!  Improving flexibility, balance, and strength can greatly improve your swing and power.

This past year, Britt Marie Fitness began at the American Classic Golf Club.  Weekly yoga for golfers and other fitness classes offered in person and virtually can improve your golf fitness and overall body fitness.  I think many people do not consider the fitness aspect of golf and dedicating some time to that can be a great resolution for 2021 that can improve your swing and general well-being.  To start, a good goal for this year could be to join a few workout sessions or consider getting some 1 on 1 training!  For those looking to get more out of their body and swing, consider taking your golf fitness serious this year.

There are many other potential golf resolutions to strive for in 2021, but I believe these are some of the best to improve your game overall.  Golf is a great game, so if nothing else this year, a great resolution could be to simply continue having fun and enjoy the game more while playing!  Wishing all of you a great new year, and hopefully it will be full of golf!

 

– Sam Cresta, Assistant Golf Professional at American Classic GC