It is not uncommon for stiff breezes to inhabit many golf vacation spots as illustrated by the beautiful Royal St. Kitts Golf Club in the West Indies. Below are some tips on how to play in the wind. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
Playing into the wind affords challenges both directionally and distance-wise. The wind will exaggerate any side-spin and the wrong technique may cause shots to balloon even more up into the air. Here are a few quick tips to help you improve when playing into the wind.
1. Swing easier. Take a club or two less and swing easier for hitting a full shot puts more spin on the ball and though you may have enough distance to reach your target, it won’t pierce wind as easily and will tend to go wayward more quickly. Swing with ease into the breeze!
2. When playing a driver, for the same reasons don’t tee the ball too low as some suggest for that encourages both mishits and downward ones that apply spin and cause the ball to balloon losing distance.
3. Shoot at the top of the flagstick and not the bottom of it. Against the wind, the ball will come down and stop faster.
4. Tom Watson liked to lower his target shoulder and raise your back one. Approach your shot particularly with your irons as if you are playing off of a downhill lie, and play it back in your stance. With a short iron, you may even play it behind your rear foot. I have always positioned the ball as such, but I used a lot of hand action. It wasn’t until Jack Nicklaus told me to take the hands completely out of the shot and play it from that back position moving only the triangle of my arms and shoulders – and no hands that I achieved a consistently piercing trajectory. (This was one of the best tips I’ve ever received and completely improved my wind game.)
5. To hit it low, finish low. Normally we would want a nice, high full finish to complete our golf swing, but to hit it low into the wind, it really helps to abbreviate the follow-through around waist-high or just a bit higher.
6. Monitor your tempo to assure smoothness and encourage good balance. Making a solid strike through the target does more to achieve success in the wind than probably any other single factor.