During a typical round of golf you can encounter sustained winds and gusts that will impact your ball flight. Headwinds, the wind in your face, will reduce yardage and magnify ball spin for golfers who typically slice or hook the ball, as opposed to tail winds that are at your back and will add yardage to your normal shot. You can also encounter cross winds from left to right or right to left with variations in between.
In Erie our prevailing wind is from the south. It would be helpful before you leave for the golf course to tune in to your favorite weather forecast to find out the direction the wind will be that day and the projected wind speeds. It would be a wise move with this information in hand to inquire in the pro shop where due north is on the golf course and make a note of this location in relation to the golf holes you are playing.
Understanding where you are on the golf course in relation to the prevailing wind can assist you in selecting the right golf club. Often golfers simply select a club based upon the yardage they are from the golf hole. Take into account the wind conditions affecting your shot prior to selecting your club. A 150 yard shot into a head wind will require a different club selection that a 150 yard shot with a tail wind. Facing cross winds you need to factor in this effect when aiming your shot.
There is no need to grip the club tighter or swing harder or faster in the wind. As the saying goes, “when it’s breezy swing it easy.” Maintaining your balance is what is important; then simply adjust your club selection. As a general rule add one club for every 10 mph of head wind. For example, as I am writing this article there is a prevailing south wind of 10mph. This can be a 3 club difference for a 150 yard shot. If you typically hit a 7 iron 150 yards you would pick a 6 iron in a head wind, and an 8 iron in a tail wind. If it were a 20mph an hour wind, move from a 7 iron to a 5 iron in a head wind and a 7 iron to a 9 iron in a tail wind.
Knowing your ball flight tendencies will also be helpful in a head wind. If you typically slice the ball the wind will have more of an influence on your shot than someone who has a draw that will fly lower. In a cross wind, if you allow the wind to carry your shot, aim 5 yards away from your target line for every 10 mph of wind speed. If your natural ball flight is a slice and you typically aim left of your target, add 5 additional yards for every 10 mph of wind speed in a left to right cross wind.
Another adjustment you might want to consider is ball position. Playing the ball in the back of your stance will create a lower trajectory ball flight. The headwind will not have as much of an impact as it would in your normal set-up position. To test this, simply take your normal stance and take note of the loft of your club face. Now place it back in your stance and note how the club face has less loft. Place it forward in your stance and you will add loft to your club.
The terrain of the golf course will also have an influence on the wind effect. If you find yourself on a ridge the wind speeds will be dramatically different than if you are nestled in a valley. Tee boxes surrounded by tall tress often mask the wind conditions between you and the green. Take a look at the flag. What direction is the wind blowing, is the flag still, gently flowing or whipping in the wind? These are all clues as to how your golf ball may be influenced during your shot.
No doubt about it, the great game of golf offers countless variations on how we can play this wonderful game. Take time to discover how the wind can influence your game. It only takes a moment to become aware of this variable that we play with almost every day of golf season. Make the wind your ally and adjust your club selection accordingly for a more enjoyable round of golf.