It started out well. Yes, the wind was blowing – it would be a two-club wind, at least. But I struck the ball well on the driving range. I was in balance. I was able to control the spin of the ball in the crosswind. I felt confident.
That confidence ebbed a bit when I bogeyed the first three holes, which all were downwind. On all three, the wind was a factor – it was so hard to judge how far the ball would fly. But three bogeys were three disappointments.
Then we turned north for the next four holes, and everything went haywire. Now we were dead into the gale, and it was blowing harder than ever. Making anything approaching solid contact, even from inside 100 yards, was difficult. The double bogeys and worse were inevitable.
It was yet another example of why, to me, the wind is by far the most difficult condition we face in our great game.
I can handle the heat – just slap on the sunscreen, bring plenty of water and stay in the shade as much as you can.
I can brrrave the cold – bundle up and bring the handwarmers.
I don’t play in the rain often, but even that is manageable as long as I can keep the grips dry.
But wind? That’s the one that’s bedeviling. The higher the number on the anemometer, the higher the numbers on the scorecard.
And it’s not as if I don’t know how to hit a low shot and keep the ball out of the wind. I just can’t seem to execute it consistently, and I certainly don’t seem to be able to score.
So I looked for answers, and I found five simple tips on the American Golf website. They are:
Swing easy when it’s breezy: This is one of those things where you know you’re supposed to do that, you really want to do that, but it’s very difficult to do that. Still, you’ve got to remind yourself every time you’re hitting into the wind: Swinging harder isn’t going to make it go farther. If anything, it goes more awry.
Club up, choke down: Another good habit to get into, even when it’s not windy. You can’t try to be a hero in the wind. Even if you think you can crush a 7-iron and get it there, take a 6 or even a 5 and swing easy.
Ball back, weight forward: This is an important skill to learn on the range. Every time I hit balls, I practice some low shots with the ball back in my stance. You never know when you’re going to need that shot.
Fight it or ride it: You know the wind is going to affect the trajectory, so play for it. The ball probably isn’t going to fly straight. And if the trouble is on the left and the wind is on the right, find a comfortable shot shape that will keep the ball in play.
Don’t risk it: This might be the best advice of all. Any mistake will be exaggerated on a windy day. If you try to hit a big drive downwind and you hit it off line, you’ll be in that much more trouble. If you try to clear a hazard when hitting into the wind, your chances of making it aren’t good. Play the odds. Play safe.
I would add one more category to this list: Forget about posting a good score. Even the pros’ numbers usually go up when the wind blows. It’s too bad that wind can’t be figured into the handicap system, but it’s balanced by those days when the conditions are perfect.
So get out there, even if you have some windy days this month. A little extra breeze is never a reason to stay home – in fact, it’s all the more reason to take it on and learn how to become a better player.
And if you do have a good day, that’s something to brag about. You just did something that 99% of the golfing population can’t do. Especially me.