If you have lived in Oklahoma for a while, then you should be very familiar with the strong wind we have to deal with every Spring. It’s bad enough just having to walk around in winds that gust up to 30 or 40mph but, if you’re a golfer, it’s just plain brutal some days trying to fight the wind all day. So, here’s a few tips that might help you save a few strokes and lessen your frustration.
First, the importance of club selection is increased significantly. Of course there are many factors involved, such as elevation changes, humidity, etc, but as a general rule add one more club for every 7mph of wind. For instance, if you’re hitting directly into a 13-16mph wind, and the shot would normally call for your 7-iron, then hit your 5-iron instead. Don’t let your ego get in the way of choosing the right club. If you’re caught in-between clubs, always choose the longer one. Be aware, too, that if the wind is at your back that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can hit two less clubs. Wind usually doesn’t help as much as it hurts when facing directly into it.
Second, widen your stance when playing in heavy wind. It will give you a more solid foundation for a balanced swing. Strong gusts can easily blow you off balance in the middle of your backswing and cause erratic ball striking. It is even helpful to incorporate a wider stance in your putting to ensure a better stroke. Also, focus on your balance during your swing, more so than you usually would.
Third, swing easier. There is more than one reason why this is helpful. The major reason is related to maintaining good balance, as previously mentioned. When you swing hard, as many golfers are tempted to do when hitting into the wind, you tend to lose balance and not make solid contact. Solid ball striking is key to playing well in the wind. Another reason for swinging easy is that it will impart less spin on the ball then when you swing hard. The harder you hit it, the more spin created, whether that be backspin on a well struck shot or sidespin on a poorly struck ball, and therefore the more the ball will be affected by the wind. If you swing easy and put less spin on the ball, it will hold its line much better and bore through the wind.
Lastly, you might want to consider changing the type of ball you’re playing when the conditions call for it. If you normally play a ball designed for high spin, it is going to be much harder to control on a windy day. Experiment with a firmer ball designed for distance. It will be more consistent and easier to control in strong winds.
The brutal wind in Oklahoma can be very frustrating, so try using these simple tips to keep you relaxed on the golf course this Spring until Summer rolls around and they die down to manageable speeds.