A Lesson Learned: Playing in the rain

Phil Mickelson
Getty Images
Phil Mickelson struggled to overcome the wet conditions down the stretch.
Doug Wade, PGA

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, May 05, 2013 | 10:34 p.m.

Watching the final few holes of the Wells Fargo Championship, it was fascinating to watch the drama of a crowded leaderboard and watch the world's best golfers battle each other, their own emotions and - the weather.

Congratulations to Derek Ernst, the 4th alternate coming into the week, the 2013 champion leaving Quail Hollow. Just making it to the weekend had to be a big win for him - much less, overcoming all the factors noted earlier.

Perhaps the key shot of the tournament was Ernst's shot on the final hole of regulation, a 6-iron he hit to four feet on the difficult 18th hole, one of only four birdies made on the hole on the final day. To do that, under that pressure - in the cold, wind and rain - well, that's just really impressive.

And for this week's "A Lesson Learned", I want to share three quick tips about playing in rain and cold.

Growing up and now working in Ohio, I've played my share of rounds in the rain. Some of my most rewarding rounds have come in tough conditions. Golf is an outdoor sport, playing against the weather is every bit a part of the game as water hazards and trees along the fairway. And even more, if you can handle shots when conditions turn tough - you're already one up on the rest of your group.

1.) Be prepared: Not to weigh you down but do you have rain gloves, extra towels, even an umbrella in your bag? You'd be surprised how many people do not. The goal when playing in the rain is to not think too much about playing in the rain. Those who are not prepared are constantly worried about wet gloves, water dripping down their back, etc. Know that conditions can change - and be prepared.

2.) Stay controlled: When it's time to focus on the shot, solid contact is more important than ever when conditions get tough. Don't give yourself any easier opportunities for mistakes by overswinging. A common mistake is the feeling that you have to swing harder - that's actually the most harmful thing you can do. The chance for the club to slip in your hands or your feet to slip on the swing are only increased in wet conditions. A shorter, more compact swing with more club will only help you in these situations. Think back to Phil Mickelson who really had the tournament in his grasp until making bogeys on two of the final three holes - including a short iron on the 17th hole that he pulled way right (a classic case of overswinging).

3.) Adapt to the course: When it rains, the course changes right in front of you. If you watched the end of the Wells Fargo Championship, you noticed how hard it was for even the world's best players to get their chips and putts to the hole as the conditions got slower and wetter. Be aware of what the rain, cold and wind can do to your shots. Wet conditions mean less spin for shots but slower greens and softer fairways. Adjust your game and club selection accordingly.

Doug Wade is the Head Golf Professional at Miami Valley Golf Club in Dayton Ohio. Doug is a former All Big-Ten golfer for The Ohio State University, where he graduated in 2002. Wade has played in many championships including the 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. Feel free to learn more about Doug Wade at www.dougwadepga.com , and on Twitter at @DougWade_PGA 

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