Golf tips: Don't let a windy day on the course ruin your scorecard

Kevin Chappell
USA Today Sports Images
Kevin Chappell captured his first PGA Tour victory Sunday in a windy San Antonio. PGA Professional David Hutsell explains how you can get the most out of your round even in adverse conditions.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Published: Monday, April 24, 2017 | 9:59 a.m.

As is often the case anytime one tees it up in the Lone Star State, wind was a factor throughout the week during the Valero Texas Open.

Kevin Chappell emerged as the winner on Sunday at 12-under 276, picking up his first PGA Tour win in 180 tries.

Clearly, players in the professional ranks are there for a reason -- they know how best to cope with the elements.

But what can you do to make those rounds in adverse conditions not only more enjoyable, but post a score that's respectable?

PGA Professional David Hutsell, the 2011 PGA Professional Champion and assistant professional at Woodholme Country Club in Lutherville, Maryland, has the answers.

RELATED: Tips for chipping, putting and hitting knock-down shots in the wind

"I think, most importantly, the wind will separate the very good ball strikers from the ones who don't strike it as solidly," he said. When you're a solid ball striker, you can control trajectory and spin much better. When you're playing in a strong wind, those are absolutely the keys to succeeding."

A common -- yet inaccurate -- belief of most average golfes is that if there's a strong wind, you need to swing harder.

Hutsell says, it's actually the opposite of that.

"When you're playing in a strong wind, players most often struggle with distance control," he said. "The reason is, people think they need to overpower things -- they swing harder, which is creating more spin and that's a recipe for disaster hitting into the wind.

"What I recommend to my players is this: take an extra club or two and swing smooth. If in perfect conditions you hit a 7-iron 150 yards, hit a 6- or even a 5-iron from that same distance when you're hitting into the wind. But don't forget to take that smooth, easy swing. What it will do is allow you to flight the ball down a little more than normal -- more penetrating -- and it will reduce the backspin on the shot. And you don't need to worry about the ball heading into the green a little hot with the longer club in and the lower flight. That wind that's blowing into you is going to slow the ball down as it descends and it will land soft."

Don't forget -- when you're playing in heavy winds, or especially gusting winds -- putting is also going to be a different animal.

Just because the ball doesn't leave the ground when you're putting doesn't mean the wind won't mess with it.

"It can be one of the most difficult things out there to judge," Hutsell said. "And it's not just the putts where you're covering a lot of distance. It can impact short ones too. You just have to trust your line and hit it there because right as you're about to putt, that wind might just lay down. That trust in picking the right line can be extremely important for a player's confidence."

Finally, for those of you playing in any kind of tournament golf like Chappell was in San Antonio, do not underestimate how much of a factor attitude can be on those days where conditions aren't ideal.

"I think weather in general is big when it comes to attitude," Hutsell explained. "Put it out of your mind. There will be players who don't enjoy certain conditions -- wind or rain, particularly. They'll struggle because they're not mentally prepared to handle it. If you can accept what will happen in those conditions, you can have an edge over your fellow competitors."

 

 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.