If you are lucky enough to reside in New England then living through extended stretches of inclement weather is, ahem, par for the course. If you were born here then you know better than to complain about it or to trust the ten day forecasts so you make do. But if you’re a golfer already dealing with an abbreviated golf season then the rainy days can make or break you. If you’re a fair weather golfer and you only play when the temperature is above 76 degrees and the sun is shining, you can stop reading right here. This is a primer for those who want to squeeze every last golf day out of a New England summer.
It’s raining right now and has been pretty much every day for the past two weeks. Many golfers have not golfed opting instead for candlepin bowling, trips to LL Bean or cleaning the garage. These are noble pursuits to be sure but their golf games are growing moldy as their clubs gather dust. Enterprising golfers have rejoiced. Why? They have the golf courses all to themselves and two and a half hour rounds are the norm. This is not good news for golf course owners but for hardy golfers this is a feast to be enjoyed one wet course after another.
So how are these golfers able to get out and not only play but enjoy a round when it’s raining? It’s all about having the right gear and the right mindset. Let’s start with the gear and work our way into how to use it to maximum enjoyment.
It all starts with the grips and ends with the feet. If your grips are too slippery to hold then the game is done. Regripping your clubs is something too many golfers ignore and many will buy new clubs when the problem really was old grips. That’s like buying a new car when the tires are worn. If you plan on playing in wet weather then getting your vinyl grips replaced with cord grips makes sense. The cord helps create an abrasive surface for your hands. If you have never used cord, then watch out for some initial damage to your hands and your glove but the difference in gripability is significant. The cost to regrip varies from $5 to $10 a club on average so to do your whole set certainly isn’t cheap but stay focused on all the extra golf you’re going to get or what a new set would cost.
A less expensive option is to buy a pair of rain gloves. These have been on the market for a few years and their utility is undeniable. They don’t keep your hands dry but the surface of the glove remains wedded to your grip in all but deluge status. This is a must buy and will set you back less than $20.
An umbrella and extra towels are obvious but too many golfers have neither. The umbrella should be used to keep your clubs dry first and the golfer second and the towels can be used to dry off grips or cart seats.
A good rain suit can cost $400-$500. They don’t need to match and feel free to get one half of the suit first until you can spring for the other half. Wives and husbands love to buy raingear for their golf obsessed spouses so put this on your wish list and hope that you score for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day instead of chocolates or a tie. Look for the words “waterproof” as opposed to “water resistant” or “water absorbent.” It does matter. Also, wear garments that wick away the moisture instead of sticking it next to your skin like the clammy hands of the grim reaper. Brilliant.
Buy some really good waterproof golf shoes and having a second pair doesn’t hurt if you plan on playing more than once a week. No shoes will stay waterproof forever but you can add waterproofing agents to extend their ability to repel water. If you intend to forge swollen brooks or forage in swamps, you will need waders, not golf shoes.
A rain hat is nice but most will make you look completely foolish. Of course, if you’re golfing in the rain constantly you have already given up on looking stylish or even intelligent so go for it. A big bucket style will give your friends the most enjoyment.
So, now that you have all the trappings of the rain ready golfer let’s tackle the subject of attitude. We already mentioned how you will have courses all to yourself and how you’ll fairly fly around these deserted tracks but it’s important to reset you inner golf dial if you’re coming over from the fair weather side. First of all, expect to play alone. A lot. Your friends and family will likely not join you on this quest and are more likely to ridicule you than to see you as heroic for playing in conditions that Survivorman would pass on. Let them laugh and embrace their pity. Your handicap is dropping. On a beautiful day there are so many other outdoor activities to enjoy like the beach, Funtown/Splashtown, or a SeaDogs game. When you golf on these days and start to play poorly it is only natural for your mind to drift to these other pleasurable pursuits and to wish mightily that you had chosen a different path that day. This is not good for your game. But when you golf on a rainy day your mind will stay focused on golf because really what else would you have been doing? To this same point, spouses who would normally riddle you with guilt for taking off on a sunny day will just look quizzically at you, shake their heads and wonder where they went wrong. You can deal with that later as you regale them with the story of your round. They will pretend to not be interested.
It’s is important to understand that rain golf takes more effort and is therefore more difficult. Keeping things dry takes work and little things like getting a tee out of your pocket or putting your umbrella down in such a way that it doesn’t blow away become Herculean. These drain your mental energy and tax your ability to focus. If you need an excuse for a poor round, this is it. Take it as a gift.
One final note: do not take this to mean that any rain is good rain. Thunder means it’s time to man up and, ahem, bolt. Most courses have a bar that provides excellent refuge. Take advantage so you live to see the rain come up another day.