Oh, to be like Tom Watson. The legendary golfer has long been considered among the greatest foul-weather golfers in history.
A golfer does not win five British Open championships, and come within inches of winning a sixth at age 59, unless he has a little game in the wind. OK, A LOT of game.
However, us mere mortals often struggle in the breezy, chilly conditions sometimes brought on by a Central Oregon spring. We miss targets by coming up short and we often fall out of rythym trying to muscle up against the wind.
But there are ways to play better golf in unpredictable conditions. In fact, playing great golf in bad weather is simpler than most of us think.
Tom Baker, head golf professional at Black Butte Ranch, says that controlling the ball in the wind is paramount. And often that simply comes down to taking a shorter swing and a bit more club with every shot.
“Take more club because what you want to do in the wind is not swing as hard, because the harder you swing the more spin you put on the ball,” Baker said. “And that’s going to make the ball balloon up in the air and come up short.”
Baker said that amateur golfers often forget to factor in the restriction in their swing that comes from wearing multiple layers, including a jacket, in bad weather. And they do not practice the shots necessary to play well in bad weather.
So Baker suggests heading to the driving range and practice hitting shots using a shorter back swing, using a longer iron to help compensate for the lost distance.
“Take a shorter swing, that is in control and in balance,” Baker said. “That’ll keep your spin down, it’ll keep it under the wind, and you’ll get your distance out of it.”
Practice the shot over and over, and in time, maybe you’ll be able to play like Watson, too.
For more information on how to take a lesson from Tom or any of our Black Butte Ranch instructors, visit BlackButteRanch.com/golf/lessons-and-instructions.