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Golf in Bad Weather - How Much Can You Take

By: | Mon 08 Nov 2021

Golfers are generally a hardy bunch, willing to face the elements and make the best of whatever challenges nature has presented them, something that is especially the case during the depths of winter.

Ultimately, many of us are fair-weather types, only keen to play when the sun is shining and winds are light, but we found that the majority of golfers are accepting of some inclement conditions.

Surveying 3,500 golfers in a Golfshake Survey two years ago, we revealed that 66.4% of the Golfshake Community are happy to keep playing in light rain, with 49.1% of club members willing to continue playing through strong winds.

Legendary Glasgow comedian Billy Connolly said: "There's no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes."

Arguably that is true for golf - as the exceptional quality of apparel technology these days means that you can stay warm and dry on the fairways without inhibiting your performance to any great extent. 

HOWEVER, everyone has their limit - even the hardiest of hardy golfers.

We asked the Golfshake Staff & Ambassadors to describe to us just when that line is crossed, how bad do conditions need to be for them to cancel a round - and heaven forbid, in which circumstances would they pack it in for the day and walk in early without finishing all 18 holes.

There aren't many more passionate golfers than Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook, but even he found himself faced with unpalatable weather recently.

"I'm very much a 'if the course is open I'm turning up man' - I don't see the point in not trying," he told us. "I went out last week and it was tipping down constantly and we all decided to come off after seven holes. At that stage everything is soaked and you're just fighting a losing battle. But I have just invested in a pair of rain gloves so next time I may be able to carry on!"

Matt added: "The worst weather I have played in was at Le Golf National a couple of years back - not for rain funnily enough, but the wind was crazy. One par 3 was playing 160 yards and I hit a driver and still came up short - it was borderline unplayable really."

Likewise, Mel Davies found the wind especially testing on one unforgettable occasion. "Worst weather I played in was 40mph winds at Kington which is the highest course (I believe) in England. It even managed to blow my electric trolley over three times - but we stuck it out and found it quite a fun challenge.

"I’ve only walked off the course once due to weather and that was last winter when it rained so much we were totally drenched within about five minutes. I even had to tip the water out of my bag when I got home."

For Richard Moore, when good money has been spent, you keep going. "I was once soaked to the skin on Royal St David’s in Harlech with my mate. We were soaked and had a three hour drive to look forward to get home and I was not quitting and the rain was like stair-rods. The fairways were flooded - but I still played on even though he quit.

"I’d paid £70 so was playing 18!"

Heavy Rain Golf

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Golfshake's Darren Ramowski has given up on two occasions.

"I did once play at a course which was completely frozen and the temperature was at least -2. I was probably wearing more items of clothing than the 31 points I shot that day!

"So, whilst I will play in most conditions I'm reluctant to admit that I have walked off the course on two occasions in my 24 year golfing lifetime. The first time was during torrential rain. We should have stopped on the 7th but due to our boss at the time paying for a group of us to play, we felt we needed to carry on because he was in the group ahead and hadn't walked off. By the 11th, two groups had joined to form a six-ball and discussed our options due to visibility being down to 30 yards.  We played that hole and having only found one tee shot out of the six, decided it was time to end it. Our boss did all 18!

"The second occasion was whilst on a group trip to The Belfry. Playing on the Sunday we got to the 5th hole of the PGA Course and the rain just came, and came, and came. By the 14th we were all soaked through and no £500+ waterproof golf clothing was going to keep anyone dry on that day, so I decided to walk back in. Some in our party continued to play, others did walk in as well, and although you walked back the way you would play the final holes, it meant we got back 40 minutes sooner to start the drying out process for day two! Eight years later I can still remember the comedy scenes of people trying to get their golf clubs into the hotel rooms where they weren't supposed to be without being seen! Our room was then literally littered floor to ceiling with clubs, bags, clothing, shoes and everything trying to dry out."

Finally, Golfshake Editor Kieran Clark recounts the one time the weather prevented him from completing a round at the Home of Golf!

"Through the years, I've played in all conditions, perhaps most memorably in falling snow at Bute Golf Club, an experience that demanded the use of an orange golf ball! 

"However, the most dramatic weather - and the only time I've not completed a round - came on the Old Course at St Andrews in 2017. Playing the back-nine, the clouds ahead were growing increasingly dark, until by the 16th tee we couldn't see the town. 

"Suddenly, there was a loud bang, lightning struck and the heaviest rain I have ever seen fell on us. Visibility was about 20 yards by this point. Had I stood under a shower for ten minutes, I wouldn't have felt as wet as this.

"Things slowly improved somewhat, but clearly it was unsafe and my dad I decided it was best to cut across to the refuge of the clubhouse, whereas the two gentlemen from Argentina we were paired up with continued into the abyss to finish off their round!"

So, there you have some tales of when bad weather goes beyond what we can take. Golfers are willing to put themselves through a lot to play the ancient game - but it seems that everyone has their limit!

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What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

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