Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Playing Successfully in the Wind

March came in like a lion and is still roaring!  It seems the winds have been blowing 15-20 mph this entire spring. 

Here are a few general rules for taming the wind.

When playing in the wind, and any inclement weather for that matter, you will tend to do things much quicker than normal.  So, the first rule when playing in the wind is to slow down!  Avoid the tendency to rush through your pre-shot routine by slowing down all of your movements prior to hitting your shot.  This will help set the tone for a slower and smoother swing.  You also want to avoid swinging too hard in the wind.  The old adage "swing easy when it's breezy" is still in vogue.  I recommend thinking about the pace of your arms when you swing.  Try to feel the arms swinging back and through at the same pace.  Using a speed scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being slow and 5 being fast, try to swing back and through at a 3.  This will help your balance and ball striking and this pace is maintained whether you are headed into or down wind.

The second rule is to grip down the shaft when it is windy.  This adjustment tends to make the shaft play stiffer and helps keep the ball flight lower.  In conjuction with gripping down the shaft, I suggest playing the ball a little further back in your stance.  For an iron or hybrid, I would move the ball position about two inches behind the center of your stance and for a wood, move it back about two to three inches inside your front heel. 

The third rule is to adjust your aim to allow for the wind.  I will say a well struck shot will hold it's line in the wind for the most part.  But, if you already tend to move the ball one way or the other, then plan for it to move more than normal.  When the wind is swirling and you are having difficulty figuring out which way it is blowing, try looking up at the clouds.  Their movement will tell you which way the wind is truly blowing.  If it is a clear day, look at the tree tops and see which way they are moving.

On a windy day you can throw out the yardage book and GPS unit.  Strive for a smooth swing and solid contact.  If it means hitting a 6 iron instead of an 8 iron, then so be it.  Again, it's not how hard you hit the ball, but how solid you hit it.  Typically if you swing too hard the ball will "balloon" or go way too high.

The bottom line for playing successful wind shots is to grip down, slow down, and swing smoothly.

Good luck, calmer days are ahead.

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