Just because Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, toes and every other part of your body doesn't mean you should put your clubs away for the winter. You just have to be like a boy scout ...prepared.
You lose most of your body heat through your hands and head. To stay warm you need to keep them covered. A toasty ski cap and a really good pair of mittins are a must. A pack of hand warmers in your mittins to keep your hands warm between shots is a good idea as well. To keep your body warm I suggest layering up with some of the new lightweight warm weather gear. The new high-tech gear is lighter in weight than the old long johns and wool sweaters. The material is designed to keep heat in and allow moisture out for maximum comfort.
The golf ball - hmmm white ball, white snow. Well you can guess this could cause a problem. May I suggest you get some colored ones. It will make it easier to find. Due to the ball being cold, your many layers of clothes and lack of footing it is impossible to hit the ball as far as you do in the summer so you will have to take more club. Due to the elements, check your ego at the first tee, realize shooting your summer score probably isn't in the cards, and the goal for this day will be to have fun. Enjoy the elements, the camaraderie with your friends, and the sense of discovery that you are doing something that very few will do. Also I suggest winter golfers carry a camera you never know what you are going to see that you never do in the summer.
Stay hydrated even if the temperature dips south of 30, your body is still needs water. So please put liquids back in and stay away from coffee and alcohol. Hot cocoa and water will be better alternatives.
But the cold climate should not be an excuse for you to not enjoy this great game. Here in Chicago area, we have plenty of cold temperatures, snow and a great football team that we want to support. But we're still going to get out play some golf.
For example, here at Cog Hill, we have The Eskimo Open, and annual tradition since 1966 that takes place on the first Sunday in January. Naturally, it's one of our most popular events. It is held rain, sleet, snow or thaw. If a hurricane ever visited Lemont in January, we'd still have golfers show. It is the one event the worse the weather, the bigger the smiles. This year, we had 149 players enjoy a slightly overcast 25 degree morning of golf and the chili afterwards.
Winter golf is a different game than the summer variety. First there are no lines and slow play well doesn't exist when there is no one on the course but you. The summer infestation of mosquitoes is gone and that lake you have trouble carrying in the summer is frozen. No, it's not exactly the same game, nor is it the same expectations for your mid Spring or Summer rounds. But if you prepare correctly, it can be just as, if not more, fun and exhilarating. If the dedicated golfers of Chicago can do it, anyone can.
Kevin Weeks is the Director of Instruction at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Illinois. Weeks is a three-time Illinois PGA Section Teacher of the Year and has won several national awards and recognitions for his work with players from the PGA Tour down to the junior level.