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Ten tips to survive and thrive playing golf during the cold weather months
02 Dec 2022
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

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Golfweek photo
Golfweek photo

Baby, it's cold outside.

First, a disclaimer. As a resident of Marin County which sits north of the Golden Gate Bridge, I'm probably not the most qualified person to offer tips on how to play golf in cold weather, but golfers who had an early morning tee time today in Northern California, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area, were greeted with temperatures in the low 30s and chunks of ice normally reserved for a Packer playoff game at Lambeau Field.

I toughed out 18 holes Wednesday on my home course of Indian Valley in Novato, where sheets of ice still layered some of the greens and fairways at 9:30 in the morning. Given the conditions, I was certainly surprised there wasn't a frost delay but at the same time appreciated the extra roll as my ball skipped happily over the frozen tundra.



My other cold-weather golf credentials are limited to surviving a round on the Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes on a day described by my longtime Bandon caddie as "one of the top five worst weather days" he had ever experienced in all of his years looping on the property and grinding through many chilly rounds during the spring and summer months with Karl the Fog at TPC Harding Park, Lake Merced and the Presidio Golf Club.

If you've ever visited San Francisco during that time of year, you know what I mean. If not, ask Mark Twain.

Just because the temperature is dropping, that doesn’t mean you have to put away your clubs for the rest of the year, unless of course, you live in an area where your winter golf is limited to watching the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua or the Sony Open at Waialae in January.

Enjoying golfing in cold weather comes down to having the right clothing, gear, and also the right mindset. Here are a few tips to play your best in the cold months of winter, courtesy of this native Californian.

• • • • •

1. Dress for the conditions. Wear layers to stay warm but can shed if you begin to warm up later in the round. Also, extra thick socks, hand warmers and a ski cap that covers your ears are highly recommended.

2. Warm up properly. Don't think you can go from paying your green fees in the pro shop to the first tee, take a few practice swings and launch your opening tee shot 280 down the middle. Give yourself enough time to hit a few balls, stretch your muscles and get some cardio going with some jumping jacks or running in place.

3. Stay hydrated. Remember to pack plenty of water. Your body needs to hydrate as much on a cold day as a warm one, so drink up. It's not a bad idea to take a thermos of herbal tea, hot chocolate, coffee or broth with you. The thermos can also be used as a hand warmer.

4. Walk if you can. As a proud member of The Walking Golfers Society, I've always found it easier to loosen up when walking than riding in a cart, even on warm days. It gets my blood flowing and loosens my muscles, as opposed to riding, where I find myself constantly blowing into my hands as I try to fight off the additional wind chill. Plus, walking burns almost twice as many calories as you would riding in a cart, so you won't feel as guilty when you replenish at the turn or on the 19th hole. Your greenskeeper would also be pleased as they try to maintain the course during the less than friendly weather months.

5. Take an extra club. Not only won't your ball won't fly as far in cold weather, but you also have to take into account that the few extra layers of clothes you're wearing will constrict your flexibility. Club up.

6. Pack an extra towel. Your towel is going to get pretty messy with all the mud you'll be wiping off your clubs, so bring an extra one and save it for your grips. It's a little thing that will go a long way.

7. Keep a positive state of mind. Winter golf can be grueling and sometimes downright uncomfortable. But hey, at least you're playing. Manage your expectations and even though your score might not have been what you are accustomed to during the summer months, you got some exercise and hopefully, you had some fun. Take another stab at your personal best when things thaw out a bit.

8. Stay limber by stretching. It's only natural the level of your activity will decrease in the colder months, but that doesn't mean you can't stay in golf shape. Develop a stretching routine and stick to it. Also, invest in a weighted club and swing it 30-50 times a day.

9. Invest in some winter gloves. It's time to change out the glove that you bought back in July. If you want to take a step beyond just buying another glove, check out some of the gloves by some of the top manufacturers made specifically for the winter months. Not only will winter gloves help you grip the club better in wet conditions, but they also tend to be a little thicker than a traditional glove, which will help keep your hands warm as well.

10. Make sure you have good grips. After a long summer, a few fall outings and spending time on the range, chances are your grips are pretty worn out. The cold and damp weather make worn out grips even slicker than usual. Change your grips for the winter months - you'll feel like you have new clubs.

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