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5 Keys to Playing Shots Against the Wind

5 Keys to Playing Shots Against the Wind

With the fall golf season upon us, the high humidity that helped carry shots longer has been replaced by cooler temps and windy conditions that now shorten the distance of your shots.

Playing against the wind is a test of confidence and willingness to adapt. Below are five tips to consider when you’re approaching a shot facing the wind.

Stay balanced and swing easy. Players have a tendency to swing harder when hitting into the wind. Don’t fall into that trap. Less is more in this situation, so take a deep breath and swing the club as if the wind is at your back. Overswinging disrupts timing and technique, resulting in errant shots. By focusing on staying balanced from takeaway to follow through, you’ll avoid overswinging.

Play a longer club. Use a longer club when hitting into the wind to make up for lost distance. If you’re in a spot where you would typically hit a 7-iron to the green, use a 6- or 5-iron. The general rule is for every 10 mph of wind in your face, you’ll need one more club.

Selecting a longer club should also suppress the urge to overswing. By taking more club, your mind will rest easy so you can swing easy.

Strike a lower shot. Good players are able to adjust their ball flight trajectory. Playing a lower shot allows the ball to travel beneath strong winds and reduce its effect on the ball. A low shot also rolls farther when it lands, making up for some lost distance through the air.

Practice hitting low shots at the driving range. Play the ball back further in your stance (one to two inches) and hold on to your follow through. You can also hood the clubface slightly to reduce loft. Former PGA Tour professional Paul Azinger put it simply, “Finish low to hit it low.”

Play it smart. Certain shots require brains over brawn. For example, if you hit your driver 240 yards and your tee shot needs to carry 225 yards to clear a hazard, a stiff wind is going make that particular shot play longer. The smart choice is to lay up in front of that hazard. Penalty strokes will wreak havoc on a scorecard.

Dress warm. This sounds obvious, but it’s absolutely critical in the late fall and early spring. Chilly winds can really impact your level of play and enjoyment if you’re not dressed appropriately. Always have an emergency long sleeve shirt, wind-breaker, winter cap, and gloves in your golf bag.

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Golf Digest, Weekend Tip: Three keys for playing in the wind, April 27, 2012