Does Cold Weather Affect Your Golf Swing?
By Bradley Turner, Keiser University College of Golf Director of Online Golf Instruction – MBA, PGA
While many golfers prefer to play on warm and sunny days, the game can be played in less-than-ideal weather conditions. Golf has been played year-round in Scotland for over 500 years. The Scots have learned to contend with Mother Nature and the diverse conditions that make each round a unique challenge. As the golf season comes to a close in many areas of the country, winter golf is still a possibility if the golf courses stay open for play. This article highlights the physical effects of cold weather golf and the effects on equipment performance. In addition, the psychological effects of poor weather conditions will be explored with some strategies for overcoming the challenges of winter golf.
The effects of cold temperatures on a golfer contribute to a loss in flexibility, decreased blood flow, and reduced joint mobility. All these factors contribute to short-distance golf shots and reduced precision in striking a golf ball. In cold weather, the muscles in your body tend to contract and tighten in an attempt to keep you warmer. This will result in less flexibility and can significantly affect your range of motion, thus influencing the golf swing. It becomes difficult to achieve the normal amount of rotation and extension that golfers enjoy in warm weather conditions. This reduced range of motion can reduce a golfer’s club head speed by as much as five miles per hour, resulting in a 10-13-yard loss of carry distance with a driver.
Cold weather can lead to a reduction in joint lubrication, affecting the mobility of crucial joints in the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. This can hinder the golfer’s ability to maintain the rhythm and tempo of the golf swing, key factors in consistent ball striking. Lastly, vasoconstriction is the medical term when the blood vessels narrow due to a variety of reasons; cold is one of them. When your hands and fingers become very cold, it makes it harder to retain control of the golf grip, thereby compromising the subtle adjustments needed to control the club face.
Strategies for Overcoming the Physical Effects
Preparing for a cold day on the links is your starting point. Proper outerwear and dressing in layers are critical, as you can never get too warm on a cold day. A warm hat, gloves, and hand warmers are staple items for winter golf. Lastly, walk as much as possible when playing. Do not sit in the golf cart and freeze!
Effects on Equipment
Not only is the human body affected by cold temperatures, but the performance of the golf ball and golf clubs is compromised in winter golf conditions, too. The golf ball does not fly as far in cold weather. The sooner golfers accept this scientific fact, the better they will play. The golf ball becomes denser in cold weather, and the air density increases. This results in less compression at impact and shorter flight through the dense air.
The cold can impact the materials used in golf clubs. Graphite and steel shafts can become stiffer with cold temperatures, altering the flex and performance of the club. This can result in less predictable and consistent golf swings, affecting shot accuracy and consistency.
Strategies for Overcoming the Effects on Equipment
Keep your clubs stored inside the house all winter long. Do not keep them in the garage or, worse yet, the trunk of your car. If you have any distance to drive to play golf on a cold day, keep your golf clubs inside the warmth of the car. You want to avoid exposing the equipment to cold temperatures for as long as possible. Finally, golfers need to make course management adjustments, including hitting more clubs than a normal summer day on the links.
Cold weather can compound the effects of reduced performance when a golfer becomes negatively influenced by the conditions. Golf is as much a mental game as a physical game. It requires golf course management skills in evaluating a situation and making the best choice for the golfer. Adverse weather conditions can test a golfer’s mental toughness and decision-making skills. The physical discomfort of cold weather can distract golfers from focusing on executing golf shots. The mental discipline to face challenging conditions is an attribute of experienced and skilled golfers.
When the golf ball does not travel as far as in normal weather conditions, it can undermine a golfer’s confidence to hit good golf shots. Frustration and impatience can lead to a loss of composure and poor decision-making, all leading to a loss of confidence. The fear of poor performance in bad weather can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, resulting in a less effective golf swing.
Strategies for Overcoming the Psychological Effects
A cold-weather mindset is one that readily accepts the challenges of the day. Instead of fighting the conditions, an experienced winter golfer will lower performance expectations. The loss of distance can become a psychological barrier, but one that can be overcome with the use of more firepower. Instead of using a 7-iron, pull out a 5-iron, and you will mentally sense the strength in the club to get the ball to the flagstick. Taking two or three more clubs is a powerful ally in combating cold weather conditions. Lastly, forget about your score for the day. Just enjoy the day on the links because you never know when the next snowstorm closes the course until springtime.
Winter golf poses some unique hurdles for golfers. The anatomical effects of cold weather on the golfer and the reduced performance of golf equipment contribute to some of the psychological challenges of the game. Despite these challenges, golfers can adapt and perform well in cold weather with the right mindset and preparation. Ultimately, cold weather will test a golfer’s skill and mental fortitude, something the Scots have learned as an important aspect of the game. With the right approach, playing in winter golf conditions can be an opportunity to develop resilience and improve a golfer’s overall game.
Want more tips? If you want to take your game to the next level, contact our team at Keiser University’s College of Golf & Sport Management today. With our dedication and experience, together, we can elevate your game to new heights. Give us a call today at 888-355-4465.