Low temperatures won’t keep a hardy soul off the golf course. Why should they? Take the following steps to make sure you enjoy yourself - and play to your potential - in the chill.
Warmth is a priority, but an unrestricted swing is the key to playing well. Thin layers instead of bulky clothing let you swing freely. A combination of long underwear, a turtleneck, a thin sweater and an outer shell will keep you warm without sacrificing mobility.
The most important parts to keep warm are your hands and head. Wearing mittens or gloves (cover your non-gloved hand, too) between shots will keep your fingers from stiffening. And since body heat escapes through your head - Mom was right about that - wear a wool hat. It’ll help keep your whole body warmer.
In cold weather, you’re more prone to injury. Give yourself plenty of time to warm up before your round. When you arrive at the course, get your blood pumping by walking briskly and making fast circles with your arms extended from your sides. Then do some light stretching before starting your warm-up.
Temperatures near freezing reduce the distance a golf ball will fly, but it takes about 10 hours of exposure for a ball’s performance to be affected significantly. The night before you tee it up, keep your golf balls indoors, not in your car or the garage. They’ll retain their usual zip throughout the next day’s round.
Good drivers have great balance, enabling them to maintain control while generating tremendous club head speed. And the key to good balance is in your feet and legs.
Good balance starts with width at address. Using a driver, your heels should be set wider than your shoulders. An overly narrow stance will result in a loss of balance and poor shots.
During the backswing, maintain the flex in your right knee, which will help keep your body weight centered over the inside of your right foot. Letting weight spill outside your right foot leads to an excessive lower-body slide toward the target on the downswing; as a result, the club gets left behind your body with its face open. Legs that stay stable and balanced will rotate properly and allow the clubface to return to impact squarely.
For stable legs and a balanced downswing, practice with a ball touching the inside of your right (back) heel. If you remain in balance coming down, your foot will barely nudge the ball; poor balance will kick the ball away.
Many golfers never consider that their contact problems could stem from an inconsistent setup. The following points will help you set up correctly every time.
Place the club in the fingers of your left hand. The “V” formed by your left thumb and forefinger should point at your right ear. Add you right hand so your right ring finger is flush against your left forefinger, and your right pinkie rests between your left forefinger and middle finger. Then cock up the club so the shaft is parallel to the ground. If the club’s leading edge is vertical, the clubface is square.
Once you’ve completed your grip, stand behind the ball, facing the target. Pick an intermediate target (a spot on the ground a few feet in front of the ball and along the target line) then step in and sole the club head. Rather than trying to square the face to your ultimate target, aim it at the intermediate target. You’ll find it much easier to set up to a nearby spot than to a distant one.
With the club aimed, take a shoulder-width stance, flexing your knees slightly and tilting from your hips. Relax your shoulders and let your arms hang freely. Now establish your ball position: For short irons, play the ball midway between your heels; for mid-irons through fairway woods, move it an inch or two forward; for the driver, position it opposite your left heel.