In honor of Open Championship week, I thought it is a good time for some tips on how to play golf on windy days. Ironically this week at Royal St. George's, for the Open Championship, the pros are getting very mild conditions and not the traditional wind we are accustomed to seeing.
If you have a good punch shot that is awesome but what do you do to play well when you don't?
There are a few key elements every golfer should implement when playing on windy days. Each is easy to implement and the great news is you do not need to change your swing.
Solid Base - The first thing you want to make sure you do is to have a solid base. You can easily do this by getting slightly more knee bend. This not only keeps you more anchored so the wind doesn't push your body it also allows more stability in your swing. Just remember because you bend your knees more you do not move anything else. Many golfers will try and raise their spin angle (straightening their back) to compensate for the knee bend. Do not do that. Keep everything else the same as you would on any other day of golf.
Ball Position - When playing into the wind only you want to have the golf ball about 1 inch further back in your stance (towards your back foot) and make a normal swing. This allows you to strike the golf ball first and lower the trajectory the golf ball will fly on. You can but you do not need to do this when playing down-wind or with a cross-wind. This also works with the driver, and to help more, tee the ball down about half a ball.
Shorter Swing - Take a three-quarter swing with an extra club. This will keep you from over swinging. The harder you try to hit a golf ball the higher it will fly. A general rule you can follow is for every 5mphs of wind, go up a club with a three-quarter swing. If you have a 10mph wind in your face go up two clubs and take that three-quarter swing.
Club Selection - This may sound simple but I actually see many golfers select the wrong club when calculating the wind. I just mentioned above taking a three-quarter swing when into the wind however downwind and crosswinds are different. A crosswind you can still go up a club and take the three-quarter swing or you can go up a club and choke down on the club and take your normal swing. Keep in mind in a crosswind the ball usually comes up a little short as it moves from right or left. You also want to do this on downwind shots. This is also where I see the most mistakes from golfers. Many golfers because it is downwind immediately go one club less and either try and give it a little extra or come up short hoping the wind will carry it. Instead, take the same club you would for the distance choke down about a half-inch and take a normal swing.
Some other tips are to play to the center of greens and do not try and take too many risks. The wind will exaggerate mishits. If you hit a shot spinning right with the wind going right it causes the ball to ride the wind and end up further right. If you are trying to hit toward a pin tucked on the right then you will miss well right of the green and perhaps into trouble. If you play for the center of the green you may still miss the green with that mishit but your ball may not be off that far and give you a decent chance to get it up and down.
If the wind is blowing 15mph+ remember to take the wind into account when putting. This is more of a guess and depends on the golf course or the speed of the greens but a ball will be moved by the wind on the green. Just remember the faster the greens the more the ball breaks and the more the wind will affect the putt. Slower putts or uphill putts may not be affected as much as you have to hit the ball harder.
Hope these tips help you play in windy conditions. I will get a video tip down soon showing how to hit a punch shot that can further help you on windy days.