Being a golfer in Reno, Nevada means dealing with the weather. On any given day it could snow, then get sunny, then begin gusting wind. On days when it rains or snows, many people (including myself) try not to golf. And on an exceptionally windy day, I probably will try not to play. But those days where there is a strong breeze? Count me in. My experience, as well as some research I have done in the past, have helped me to better deal with wind, and I hope these little tips can help you as well. Following each of these individual tips should combine to help you hit successful shots in the wind.
There are three types of wind shots; headwind, tailwind, and side wind. Obviously, sometimes the wind will be in your face and to the left, so you must adjust. In this post, I will give some pointers for hitting into the wind.
Hitting into the Wind
Let’s start where most holes start; off the tee, hitting a driver or other long club. When hitting a driver/wood into the wind, the most important thing you need to do is NOT OVER SWING! The most common mistake I have seen people do is try to blast the ball into the wind, swinging with all their might, trying to make up for the distance the wind is taking from them. I learned quickly that when I hit into the wind, I am not going to hit as far as usual, and I accept that. Trying to overcompensate changes the swing, generally leading to poor results. This is true for all shots into the wind, but especially the driver.
The other quick fix when hitting a driver into the wind is to tee the ball up low. This concept isn’t complicated, but I am always amazed to see my friends tee their balls up just as high, just to watch the ball get held up by the wind. Teeing the ball up lower helps you achieve a lower, penetrating ball flight, which cuts through the wind. Intuitively, the higher the elevation, the faster the wind, so keeping the ball low not only cuts through the wind, but it actually takes a lot of wind out of the equation. This method also helps because it limits the amount of time the ball is in the air, limiting the slice or hook of your ball. When hitting into the wind, any curve on the ball will be exaggerated, so the less time you give it to curve the better. Some people recommend moving the ball back in your stance, but I never understood this. Yes, moving the ball back in your stance will help you to keep the ball lower, but it also leads to a steeper swing path, leading to more backspin. The last thing you want when hitting into the wind is backspin, as that is what will cause your ball to balloon, greatly cutting into your distance. I tried this method for a long time, and found another flaw. My swing involves a lot of wrist rollover, and moving the ball back in my stance messed up my timing, causing my wrists to lag behind the ball, not fully releasing until well after I had already contacted the ball. So, especially with your driver, when you have other ways of hitting the ball low (as mentioned above), I would not recommend moving the ball back in your stance.
Ok, now that we have covered the tee shot, let’s discuss your other full swing shots (irons and wedges). On these shots, you cannot tee up the ball low, and these shots generally go higher than your drives. I recently did a little research, and found THE MOST IMPORTANT GRAPH YOU WILL EVER SEE REGARDING HITTING INTO THE WIND! This graph shows you how much wind will affect your shot, depending on your distance and the wind speed. However, you may need to adjust a little bit. For example, I hit the ball really high, so I know wind will affect my shots more than someone who has a low ball flight. Understanding this graph (memorizing it would be pretty hard, but do your best) could really help you be more accurate hitting into the wind.
If you follow the couple tips I mentioned above, you should have more success hitting into the wind. By completing each step, you should see that your shots yield better results. Check back for my next blog post, laying out the success guide for hitting a ball WITH the wind. And, as always, follow me on twitter at @zacharypwalsh and subscribe to my blog (click the pull down menu on the upper right corner of the page, then click subscribe) to stay up to date with my latest posts on how the little things add up to make something great.