Playing in the Wind
Trevor Gliwski, PGA

Series: Course Survival

Published: Friday, April 07, 2017 | 9:12 a.m.

Editor's note: With the players battling gusting winds during the 2017 Masters, we're re-running these wind tips from PGA Professional Trevor Gliwski. We hope they help you out the next time you tee it up on a windy day.

Do you know what shots are affected by the wind? All of them!

Wind is the second most difficult playing condition in golf; right behind rain. Wind can make a three foot putt as difficult as a tee shot.

On a recent golf trip to Scotland, thirty to forty mph winds tested my skills to the limit. During my trip, I discovered there were a few shots in particular that required more care than one might think.

Putting: If you see leaves and debris blowing along the ground, your ball will be affected by the wind. The wind can affect the speed and line of a putt. While putting, a strong wind can also blow you off balance. To deal with strong winds, place your weight left, the ball more forward in your stance, and choke down on the club. Getting low and into your front leg will keep your body more stable. In dealing with wind, any movement of your body can throw off the club face and the pace of the putting stroke.

Chipping: In Scotland, most of the grass around the greens is fairway length. In dealing with strong wind, short grass is an advantage. Short grass allows you to keep the ball on the ground and out of the air. The best way to keep the ball along the ground is to putt or hit a bump and run. For me, the ball will run about five times the amount of carry. When playing a bump and run, some players use other irons, hybrids, and even three woods. The key is to find a club with which you are comfortable and learn your carry- to- roll ratio. Hitting the ball along the ground also creates more consistent contact and better misses. When you are putting or bump and running, you are making a smaller, shallower and slower swing. As a result, it is less likely that you will chunk or skull the ball. Yet, if you do miss hit the ball, swinging with less speed, will keep the ball from going over the green into more trouble. Hit a bump in run with the same technique as a standard chip shot. Weight left and hands ahead of the ball with the ball positioned in between the middle of the stance and right foot.

Knock down: The biggest mistake you can make hitting into the wind is not taking enough club. If you under- club, the wind will beat you every time. To keep your ball trajectory lower and achieve the correct distance, into a strong wind, you may need to take one, two, three, or more extra clubs. The bottom line is, hit whatever club it takes to pull off the shot. To hit a knock down shot, move the ball a little behind center, put your weight slightly forward into your front leg, and finish with a low and extended follow through. Finishing low will help drive the ball low by encouraging your hands to be ahead of the ball through impact. This action de-lofts your club, which achieves a lower ball flight. The moral of the story when playing in the wind is to over- compensate. Unless you take drastic measures, the wind will throw your ball around like a rag doll. In summary, play enough break, keep it low, and take enough club.

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