How to Play Golf in Wet Conditions

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With the summer heat in the South of the United States already in full effect, the likelihood of those afternoon thunder boomers popping up and catching you during your round increases significantly. This week’s PGA Tour stop at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis has certainly experienced its fair share of rain delays over the years and having to dodge rain pellets over the course of four (and sometimes five) days. TPC Southwind and Memphis’ conditions are a good test for players looking to get ready for the following week’s U.S. Open, especially with this year’s contest being hosted in the often soggy Pacific Northwest of Washington. So, I’ve put together five ways to prepare and play golf in wet conditions.

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1. Be Prepared For That Rainy Day

First and foremost, never get caught unprepared by the unexpected rain storm, especially when playing golf in the tumultuous uncertainty of summer. Always have an extra towel (or two) in the garment pockets of your golf bag. The extra towels are perfect to keep your hands as well as your grips as dry as possible through the weather.

Additionally, having a pair of rain gloves or a backup pair (or two) of normal gloves is a great idea. Rain gloves provide a better gripping surface for your swing, as its material components are more equipped for damp conditions.

Finally, at bare minimum, keep a waterproof rain jacket in your bag at all times (if you can fit a full suit, even better). These keep the rain wicking off of your body and prevent it from soaking into your garments. Playing golf with water logged clothing can affect your game and attitude.

2. Swing Within Yourself

When playing in wet conditions, you might feel the need to swing out of your shoes since the ball doesn’t roll off the tee shot. I like to swing at 80-90% when playing golf in damp conditions, instead of swinging 100% or more. Doing this ensures that you are focused more on golf ball and solid contact, instead of trying to squeeze more distance out of your shots which creates a tendency to hit fat shots. Also, poor contact and mis-hits tend to be exaggerated during wet conditions. More control over your swing and the golf ball is paramount to playing good golf in this type of weather. Don’t forget that if you’re playing in a tournament, you can’t rely on being able to play the ball “up” (also known as lift, clean, and place).

3. Use More Club On Your Approach Shots

With rainy conditions come more receptive greens. Your approach shots will have a tendency to bite more and potentially spin back due to the increased backspin generated.

For example, on a normal day/ground conditions, you may be used to hitting an 8 iron 150 yards because the greens are traditionally firm, allowing for a big first bounce and a roll out. On rainy days however, you may want to hit a 7-iron as you’ll have to factor in flying the ball further into the green. Using more club works in conjunction with the above tip #2. You can swing easier to which helps reduce spin and control over the golf ball.

4. Closely Examine Greenside Conditions

Wet surfaces have a tendency to slow down the green speed, which also reduces the amount of break. Because of this you’ll need to hit your putts a little harder and factor in less movement. Be sure to keep a close on each green independently as some greens, due to their sloping or runoff, may drain better than others. Remember, with all putts, speed takes precedence over the line.

Additionally, when you’re just off the green, or in a tightly mown area adjacent to the putting surface, reduce the amount of loft to execute the shot.

For example, if you primarily use your SW or LW, gear down to a PW or GW and employ a pitch and run motion, one where you feel like you are picking or sweeping the ball off the ground. Utilizing this shot eliminates the steeper angle of decent, required with of the more lofted clubs, and reduces the leading edge from digging into the ground, causing a fat shot.

5. Keep A Positive Attitude And Adjust Your Expectations

No one likes to be caught in a rain storm comes or having to go out after a rain delay and play through really soggy conditions. Sure, bad swings can turn into really bad shots, but you can’t let that affect your focus to where you end up playing really bad golf the rest of the way.

You also can’t fear a bad shot or making less than perfect contact because it happens to the best of us – everyone has to play through it, not just you. You may be used to shooting even par on , but on days like this, it may be best to temper your expectations – an even par day may now be four or five over. Either way, maintain an even keel, an upbeat attitude, and don’t let one hole or a bad break lead to a double bogey.

Don’t let the rain ruin your day! If you questions about the game or need additional help send us an email!

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 Did you miss a week? Check out our most popular instructional articles:

Chris Wadwick, PGA

Chris Wadwick has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2011. He is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Business Administration. He brings a deep understanding of the inner workings of the golf business, especially club fittings, product knowledge, and visual merchandising, working for Dick’s Sporting Goods for over 7 years and Occoneechee Golf Club for more than three years, prior to that. When he is not in the office, you can always find him at a nearby golf course, attending games at his alma mater, or spending time with his wife and four dogs.

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