Even though summer is the time when most golfers like to hit the green, your time on the course doesn't have to end when the frost sets in. If you're facing your first winter as a golfer, you don't have to worry about losing your game. With the right preparation for the cold season, you can stay on top of the green (or brown or white) until spring comes again. Here's what you need to know.
1. Dress for the weather.
Your winter coat and regular gloves may not be ideal for a winter golf game, usually because winter coats are restrictive through the arms, which will not allow your to swing freely. Instead, invest in some winter golf apparel through a place like The Golf Guys that is designed for the game. Some must-haves include:
- a wool golf sweater with a light-weight windbreaker over top. The wool sweater is both insulating and moisture wicking, which is needed on days that are cold and wet. The windbreaker helps your wool sweater to retain heat on days when the wind can pierce your sweater's insulation.
- a woolen or fleece headband that covers the ears. You can wear this band directly over your regular golf cap.
- close-fitting gloves. Insulated leather is a good choice, or knit materials with external grippy material through the fingers and palms. This helps to to keep good hold of your clubs as you swing.
- golf boots. Pack your shoes away for summer and invest in some lightweight, but well-insulated waterproof golf boots. Look for boots that have reflective insulation (this helps reduce bulk) and zippers instead of laces, as laces come untied and can create a tripping hazard.
- polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses help to reduce secondary glare from the sun. If you live in a snowy climate, the sun on a winter's day can be blinding in its intensity.
Also, part of dressing for the weather is protecting your skin. When the sun is shining, it is still possible to get sunburn. Wear sunscreen and bring an umbrella with you if possible. The umbrella can also help you to stay dry if it is snowing.
2. Have your course or club clarify winter rules.
The rules of the game can sometimes change during inclement winter weather to make sure the game can still be played fairly. Golf handbooks allow for something called "winter rules" (also known as preferred lies) when golfing conditions are not optimal. However, it is important that you ask your course of club if winter rules are in effect, as it is the prerogative of the establishment to decide if conditions merit implementation of winter rules. Usually, a golf course or club will inform patrons on days when winter rules are in effect. If you are uncertain how the game will change when these rules are in effect, be sure you speak with an administrator before undertaking your game.
Remember, if winter rules are not in effect club-wide, it is not the responsibility of the players to abide by them. You should play the game by standard rules unless the course directs otherwise.
3. Stay hydrated.
If the temperatures are dropping during your golf game, drinking cold water can seem less than appetizing. However, a long game on the course will lead to dehydration, especially when wearing warm clothing that allows you to perspire. Pack a thermos with hot, non-caffeinated tea or hot chocolate if you can't stomach the idea of cold water. However, it is best to leave coffee for after the game, as caffeine can act a mild diuretic.
For more information on preparing for your winter gold season, talk to a sporting goods retailer or call your club for specific details.