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How to play great golf in the wind

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yellow golf flagOne of the attractions to our great game for many golfers is that it is an outdoor sport, so we can get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors. This also means that during our round we may need to deal with all the elements including wind. We have previously covered how to play well in the rain and in this article we will give you our recommendations to achieving a good score when the wind is blowing.

Ok, so let’s accept that the wind is blowing and the course is going to be playing more difficult as a result. We must be able to adapt our game to these challenging conditions or else we will never be able to score our best. So how will the wind effect the golf course?

Golf courses will be constructed with the wind in mind. The course architect will play close attention to the wind direction and will try not to design long and difficult holes into the prevailing wind.  Also the wind is often used to protect some holes on the golf course and make them more difficult to play. Depending on where in the world you play the wind can have a very dramatic effect on your game. With some links courses on the coasts of Scotland almost unplayable with a standard golf shot.

The wind will blow from four general directions from behind, against or into, across from left to right or across from right to left with many combinations in between. Here are GT’s recommendations to playing in these challenging conditions.

Let’s start with the wind behind. The ball is pushed forward with less backspin this means that the ball will roll more on landing with a lower trajectory. This is great for those long par four’s and five’s when the extra distance off the tee is welcomed. However, this may also bring hazards into play that would usually not be in reach so noting the distances and taking a lesser club maybe the safer option. Also when playing into the green with the wind behind makes the ball more difficult to land and control on the green so you will need to adapt your shot making to compensate.

Playing the ball slightly higher is the answer to more consistency when the wind is blowing from behind. You will need to calculate how hard the wind is blowing in clubs. For example, a two or three club wind will mean you take two or three clubs less to achieve the same distance. Playing the ball higher will mean a longer flight and a softer landing with less forward roll. If you are able to, playing a fade shot down wind will also give you a higher trajectory and more control on landing. One great aspect of the wind blowing hard from behind is it tends to straighten out any unwanted side spin so a slice becomes a fade and a hook becomes a draw shot. Another option is to play the ball lower trying to keep the ball below the wind so it does not effect the balls flight. You will need to practise this type of shot and be confident with the distances you can achieve. When the wind is really blowing hard this may be the only option you have.

Playing into the wind for many is the most difficult. This is sometimes because feeling the wind on your face can cause you to swing at the ball much harder with a lack of tempo. Also when the wind is blowing hard you can find it difficult to keep your balance resulting in an off centred strike of the ball. When playing into the wind the strike on the ball is critical. Any unnecessary side spin will be exaggerated by the wind so a slight fade will become a big slice and a slight draw will become a hook. The obvious challenge when playing into the wind is the effect the wind will have on the ball distance. This will make long holes even longer and you will be using the longer clubs in your bag more often. When playing into the wind we want you to concentrate on your timing trying not to swing to fast. ‘ Into the breeze swing with ease’ is the swing thought we would like you to carry around the course with you. As previously mentioned measuring the wind in clubs is also useful when the wind is in your face. In this situation a two club wind means you will take two clubs more and swing easy to achieve the same distance.

Cross winds can be equally as difficult partly because golfers are unsure whether to play a shot that works with the wind or one that holds up against it. Our recommendation is to play shots that let the wind shape your golf ball. Try to play the ball with a lower trajectory to minimise the cross winds affect on the ball. Also when on the tee play close attention to where you are teeing up on the tee box. Teeing up on the right hand side of the tee box into a left to right wind may help you aim more confidently and get the shape from the wind that you have visualised.

One final note on good wind play. To play well when the wind is blowing is a lot to do with your attitude. If you have the mental toughness to accept that the round is going to be more challenging, and you are up for the challenge, then you are more likely to succeed out on the course and play reasonably well. After all, the course is playing just as difficult for your fellow competitors.

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The Golf Talk team

 

How to cure a golf slice

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The golf slice affects more than 80% of new golfers and can be one of the most irritating parts of the game. To get the most out of your golf game is essential that you learn how to cure your slice. In this article we talk through three main drills you can use today to stop slicing the golf ball.

Let’s start by looking at why we slice the golf ball. The slice is a result of an out-to-in golf swing with the clubface open to the target line. This means you are taking a glancing blow (slice) of the golf ball. The result is a shot that either starts left of the target line or on the target line and curves to the right. This shot will usually have a higher trajectory and will be of shorter distance.

Are all slice shots bad? Well no sometimes you will need to curve a ball from left to right around an obstacle, a tree for example. Or because these shots have a higher trajectory and stop quicker. You may want to use this type of shot as an approach into a green.

Where we see the slice the most is with a driver off the tee. This is because you are using a club with the least amount of loft that will enhance any side spin on the ball. Also the ball is travelling the furthest distance with a driver so again side spin will be exaggerated.

OK, so what drills can I use to try and cure my slice I hear you ask?

Drill #1 Get the golf ball above your feet. Try teeing up on a slope with the ball above your feet. This will encourage a flatter more rounded swing resulting in a more in-to-out swing path and a square or closed club face at impact. The ball should start right and curve to the left.

Drill #2  Close your stance. Address the ball with your normal square stance and then move your right foot (for a right handed golfer) 18 inches back. This will force you to swing at the ball from inside the target line. This drill is a favourite of Golf Talk’s because it can be used on the driving range. You can also use Golf Alignment Sticks to help you set up to the ball with the correct alignment.

Drill #3 Slow down your swing. Often the slice is exaggerated with the longer clubs in your bag because we sometimes feel we need to swing harder with these clubs. Start counting your swing one and two. ONE – is your back swing AND is the transition and TWO is the down swing. This will slow down your swing and give you a chance of striking the ball more solidly.

We hope these tips help you. Please comment and share below.

The Golf Talk team