7 Reasons Why Winter Golf is Great
It’s that time of the year again. The days of rip-thinning 3 irons down rock-hard summer fairways are behind us. After-work rounds where it stays light well into the evening are a thing of the past. Rain has reappeared. The mornings and nights are colder. And any shot that's not hit totally flush sends a bone-vibrating pulse up your hands. Winter, to quote Game of Thrones, is coming.
With all these downsides, it’s no surprise winter golf typically gets a bad rep. Most golfers (even the pros!) play less rounds over the period, with many even giving up entirely. But winter golf doesn’t have to put a damper on your rounds. In fact, I actually prefer winter golf to playing in summer. Think I’m talking madness? Here’s 7 points in favour of golf in the off-season.
1 – Crisp Mornings
We all know about the downsides of chilly, winter weather, but what about the upsides? One of these is the mornings. Providing you’re properly attired – and it’s not too cold – morning rounds in winter can be some of the most enjoyable you ever play. The ground is crisp underfoot, the air feels cool and clean. So what if it hurts a bit when you thin the odd long iron? No pesky hand pain can spoil this morning! A light veil of frost sits pregnant upon the trees, and all is well with the world.
2 – Better Feedback on Ballstriking
Sadly, rain tends to increase in winter, and, with it, the size of your divots. Though this naturally makes fat shots more damaging, however, a bigger divot doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For example, it’s brilliant at capturing ballstriking. When the fairways are like marble in summer, it can be tough to gauge the true quality of your shots. The turf acts like a mat, providing forgiveness on schlaffs and duffs. This is good for your score. For practicing, however, it’s totally misleading. The serious player wants feedback, and, ideally, lots of it. This is much easier to get in the winter.
3 – Emptier Courses
If you’re willing to brave the sometimes inclement conditions which winter golf throws at you, ballstriking feedback isn’t your only reward. More straightforwardly, you’re also going to enjoy emptier courses. In summer, when every man and his dog come out to play, the links will be sluggish and crowded. But in winter, when a storm's brewing and Jack Frost and his minions are in the air? No. One. About. Okay, so there’s a pretty good reason for players’ absences, and playing golf in the rain can be tough. Still, there’s nothing quite like a free course.
4 – A Better Test of Your Game
They say that it’s only when you can shoot it in winter that you can truly claim to play off a handicap. Okay, so they don’t say that, I say that. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Winter golf provides a workout for more facets of your game than are exercised in sunny summer, benefitting your practice, and, longer term, your scores. Hurricane-force winds? Learn to bunt it low and punch it under them. Soaking wet grips? Swing slower and club up. Winter golf has lots to teach you if you’ll only be her student. Your game will not be happy if you cut class.
5 – More Spin On Approach Shots
More rain equals softer greens equals more backspin! There’s nothing quite like skipping in a wedge shot and watching it bounce once and stop dead. Or going even further and getting it to spin back. Getting grip on the greens can feel impossible when they're baked in the summer. In winter, however, it’s easy to pull your shots back and to stick it by the pin with your wedge. In many ways, summer golf provides the better test here. But rip-spinning a sand wedge in winter is incredibly fun.
6 – It Puts a Premium on Long Game
Shorter hitters and bad ballstrikers look away now. Winter golf puts a premium on long game. Of course, ballstriking and iron play isn’t the only part of the game, but, especially when measured in terms of greens in regulation, it's probably the most important. Softer greens mean that, in winter, approaches will stick like a dart, providing more feedback and also a greater correlation between ballstriking and end score. It hurts in the short term, but long term, you want your scores to be tied to ballstriking. It’s more sustainable than a handicap built on great short play.
7 – Waterproof Trousers
Perhaps I'm a minority, but I’ve always been a fan of waterproof trousers. One reason I love winter then? I get to wear a lot of them! Fine, the ruffle is a bit off-putting when you’re hitting a shot, but the flared look they make around your ankles – it’s just so cool. To my mind, there are few things more stylish than a good pair of waterproof trousers. Anything that gives me more leave to wear them is a good thing to me.
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