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Cold Weather Golf

Santa Claus with golf club
Just to be clear: I am a warm weather golfer.

First choice: playing golf when temps are in the 70’s. Second choice: 80’s or 60’s. If arm-twisted: 50’s.
Anything warmer and I am in the pool. Anything colder and I light a fire.

Having said that, I live in the northeast and I have friends who are far hardier than I who insist that I occassionally venture out and play cold weather golf. Let me explain that I only do this under duress, and only for really, really good friends.

When I do venture out in cold weather, I do so with a strategy for…
1) how I dress,
2) how I warm up
3) how I play.

First, how I dress. Basically, I pretend I am going skiing, and dress accordingly. Wool hat. Layers of micro-fiber clothing. Turtleneck. Wool sweater. Two pairs of socks.

Second, how I warm up. I am a big stretcher, as a matter of course and I do extra stretching, BEFORE I layer on the clothing. Then, before I take a swing, I do five minutes of light aerobics. By “light”, I mean jogging in place to get the blood flowing, particularly to make sure my back is loose.

I always like to hit golf balls before I play, and that is imperative when it is cold. There is a very real risk of injury if you take a full-swing with a driver in cold weather without warming up. In cold weather, I warm up by chipping (even if I am on a driving range) and slowly build to a full swing. I am particularly keen to the feedback my body gives me in cold weather. If I have stretched properly and gotten the blood flowing while inside and warm, making the transition to chipping and ultimately to a full swing should be smooth and not creeky.

Third, how I play. My personal priority is to be warm and I over-dress accordingly. Hence, I make a mental adjustment to the “game” I play in the cold. Rarely do I take a full golf swing in cold weather — partly because I am so bundled up I cannot always make a full swing! So I go into the round with a strategy of playing a lot of knockdown shots — partial backswing, aggressive through the ball, and rarely a full release.

Chances are I am wearing so much clothing I cannot take a full swing anyway, so I decide ahead of time to use a cold weather round of golf as an opportunity to work on a specific shot — a knockdown shot — it’s an opportunity to practice a shot I employ a ton in “real life,” and the shot fits the playing conditions for that day — the practice pays off big time in the spring!!


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