You will never get 100% perfect conditions when you golf, and wind is one element that can really cause the ball to fly way off of the normal trajectory. So, it’s important that you make a point to go out and practice and play rounds of golf when the wind picks up. Doing so will ensure that it doesn’t negatively impact your game too much when you go out to play.
Defining Windy Conditions for Golf
When we talk about windy conditions and the need to adjust how you play, the wind is usually blowing over 10 miles per hour. This is usually a gentle breeze where the leaves will move on the trees. You may also see the flags extended on the course. While this doesn’t seem like much at the ground level, hitting the ball at or above 100-feet into the air can cause it to go in different directions.
How many adjustments you have to make while you play your round will depend on the speed of the wind. You typically adjust your play style based on 10 MPH increments. So, this means:
- 10 MPH Winds – This is a very gentle breeze that will slightly move the leaves on the trees. This is when you start to notice the wind and want to start considering play and club adjustments.
- 20 MPH Winds –At this point, the breeze will get strong enough that you can see small trees move. The waves can start to break on any water hazards on the course too.
- 30 MPH Winds – This is where you see more movement on bigger trees, and they may sway. This is why you can start to have difficulty walking against the wind.
- 40 MPH Winds – Any wind speeds above 50 MPH usually mean that you’ll postpone or delay the match. Branches may also start breaking at this point, and it’s challenging to walk against it.
Some locations and courses are well-known for windier conditions. You want to research any new course you play before you go to; you can get a strategy in place on how you’ll play with the windy conditions. A lot of golfers will toss a piece of grass up into the air to get an idea of the direction and speed of the wind before they tee off.
Identify the Wind Pattern and Adjust Your Play
Looking at the treetops, grass, and pin flag will tell you which direction the wind is blowing in as well as how hard it’s blowing. The wind’s direction will impact your actions and strategy for playing. You use these indicators to decide how you’ll play and to make your club decisions. When you adjust your playing style for the wind, you’ll have to:
- Cautiousness – You want to take more time between your shots to reevaluate the direction and strength of the wind. This can quickly change, and not reacting appropriately can stop you from avoiding errors or taking advantage of your playing conditions.
- Club Selection – You’ll have to decide which distance you need to hit your shot in and how the wind will impact whether you need to club up or club down.
- Keeping Your Ball Lower – One of the biggest things you can do is to keep your ball lower when you play in the wind. Doing so will help avoid the wind catching the ball and moving it around in directions you don’t want it to go.
- Shot Types – What type of shot do you want to take? This includes fades, punch shots, and draws. The wind can easily switch up your ball’s rotation and direction, and this means you have to take more time to plan each shot.
Lay up on Par 5’s
When you play par-five holes, you have more chances to get into the green before you go over par. You can play it safer on these holes, especially with higher winds. When you lay up, you’re hitting the ball a shorter distance to keep control of it. You could play it further, but this reduces your chances of making mistakes due to the wind.
There are also water hazards and bunkers to contend with on these longer holes, and they can be hard to avoid without the wind. Laying up allows you to put your ball in a safer position. If you were to try to play longer shots with these hazards and the wind, the slightest curve or movement could put you in a challenging spot.
Learn to Play and Practice in the Wind Confidently
For a more in depth look to improve your game, check out this article from Brad Turner, Keiser University College of Golf Director of Online Golf Instruction, “How to Practice and Play Golf in the Wind”, who says “Remember, the wind is your friend. Three of the four general winds are there to help you play better. The last wind can be beaten by using enough club.” Enjoy your next round!