If you live in the UK then you know that the struggle of playing winter golf is very, very real; stepping onto the first tee wearing so many layers that you can barely swing a club and keeping your hands tightly wrapped around the hand-warmers, deep in your pockets. There are, however, some handy tips which I’ve stumbled upon over the years that may make things ever so slightly more bearable – here are the top 5:
- Know how to layer up! – There is a lot of research and scientific method that goes into creating cold-proof clothing but it’s important that you get the most out of your winter gear; As a general rule, 3 layers consisting of a base layer (for dry comfort & warmth), a warm/cool layer (for thermal regulation) and a shell layer (for outer protection from the elements) is generally considered the best combination.
- Hats and gloves – Heat will escape your body from any part which is exposed to the air, so it is important to keep as covered up as possible. Wearing a woolly hat will minimise the amount of heat lost from your head; and a good pair of mitts will prevent heat loss from your hands. I would suggest investing some fleece lined mittens which you can easily slip on and off between shots.
- Eat and drink to stay warm – Eating and drinking the right things can have a big effect on body temperature so it’s important to fuel up correctly before and during your round. Firstly, ditch the booze! Whilst a mid-round tipple might be ok in the summer, alcohol can actually lower your core temperature. Instead, you should fill up on things which will kick-start your metabolism; this will help to increase your core temperature – Protein is the best food source to consume in order to increase body temperature so consider eating a high protein breakfast or chugging a protein shake before you head out. Coconut milk also helps to raise body temperature and will help you to maintain your energy levels throughout the round
- Take advantage! – Winter is the only time of year when Clubs allow you to bend the rules, so make sure you know what rules can help you out and make winter golf just that little bit more enjoyable. 1) Casual water – This entitles you to free relief if water is visible under your feet or the ball when you make your normal stance. You are then allowed to drop the ball within one club length of your nearest point of relief. 2) Preferred lies is not something that comes in automatically at the start of October and runs until the end of March. It is a local rule decided upon by the committee. There are three potential options listed in the rules for how far a player is allowed to move their ball: six inches, a scorecard length and a club length. So make sure you find out which applies before beginning your round. If you move your ball further than the local rule allows then you will be subject to a two-stroke penalty.
- Adapt! – Winter golf is a completely different animal compared to playing in the summer, so it’s important to adapt your game and gear accordingly in order to give yourself the best chance of playing well… 1) More loft – consider swapping out your current Woods for ones with more loft. Roll-out on the fairway is greatly reduced in winter due to the damp conditions. Keeping the ball in the air for longer will help to maximise distance. 2) Allow for less break – There will be more friction on the ball as the grass gets longer and wetter, so putts will slow quicker and not take as much break. If in doubt, adopt a more aggressive stroke and keep the ball inside the hole. 3) Respect the Rough – Don’t be over-ambitious with your club selection; claggy, wet rough will grab the club-head more and compromise solid contact with the ball. If the ball is sitting down then go for a Wedge to make sure you get out back onto the fairway. If you have an average lie then a 7/8 iron is the safest option. 4) Chip and run – This is a great shot to play around the greens as it greatly reduces the chance of chunky contact and the ball will release better on the green.