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The 10 Best Things about Playing in the Rain

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Peeling back the curtains on a golf day can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if the forecast is sketchy. If there are no puddles on the ground and no storm clouds looming above, most players experience a rush of relief and excitement. On the flipside, any hint of precipitation fills players with a sense of dread and a belief that the golf gods are conspiring against them.

If this sounds like you, read on. You can learn to love playing in the rain, if you focus on the positives.

No. 1: You Can Fire at Flags

When golf courses get wet, they get soft. Soggy conditions lend themselves to aggressive approaches, because the ball will stop wherever it lands.

If you know your carry yardages and can execute a proper swing (remember to keep your grips dry), you can take dead aim on most approach shots.

No. 2: Fast Play

A little precipitation is enough to scare off the vast majority of weekend warriors. When you elect to brave the elements, your reward will be a near-empty course and a sub-4-hour round.

No. 3: Easier Bunker Shots

A symptom of persistent rain is hard-packed sand. Happily for the foul-weather golfer, firm sand is generally more uniform and therefore more predictable than its powdery counterpart. You also get more “bounce” out of firm bunkers, making it easier to get the ball out of the bunker with plenty of spin.

No. 4: It’s Rugged

Fair-weather golfers are pampered creatures. They’ve been coddled by benign climes, pristine fairways and pretty cart girls. They exist in a sanitized bubble, only daring to venture out when conditions are totally in their favour.

Foul-weather golfers, on the other hand, realize that golf, like life, wasn’t meant to be easy. They are robust souls who don’t just thrive on adversity; they actively seek it. In their ongoing battle against par, they are prepared to fight on the golf course’s terms. They don’t allow distractions, like a little bit of water, to stand in their way.

In short, a rainy 18 holes is a cool way of getting outside your comfort zone.

No. 5: It Will Improve Your Game

Playing in the rain is a skill in and of itself. If you’re a tournament player, an ability to thrive in poor conditions could be the difference between a win and a missed cut.

Playing in the wet stuff can also help develop your ball striking. Soft ground and moist air makes the golf course play longer, so you’ll get the chance to hit more middle and long-iron approaches. Soft ground conditions also demand more pure contact, because the effect of hitting the ball fat tends to be amplified.

Perhaps the best benefit of wet-weather golf comes in the mental game. Rain can be a monumental distraction before and during your swing, so you have to work extremely hard to knuckle down and maintain focus. If you can execute your pre-shot routine and remain mentally locked-in throughout a foul-weather round, you’re well on your way to fulfilling your potential.

No. 6: You Can Justify Your Wet Weather Wardrobe

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As a GolfWRX reader, you probably have an expensive rain suit stuffed in your golf bag at this very moment.

Given the price of wet weather gear, you need to play a lot of rounds in inclement weather (or else have a serious aversion to rain) for your waterproofs to be considered an economically sound purchase.  The next time you’re considering playing in adverse conditions, think of it as a chance to get a better return on your investment.

No. 7: Wet Weather Rules Can be Used to Your Advantage

During and after heavy rainfall, many courses will permit players to lift, clean and place their ball through the green. Known by professional golfers as “lift, clean and cheat,” this local rule gives golfers a rare (and welcome) opportunity to improve their lie without breaching the rules of golf.

Similarly, if a golfer determines his/her ball rests in casual water, or that casual water interferes with his/her stance, that golfer is entitled to take relief under rule 25. You might be able to give yourself a better lie or an easier shot by invoking this rule during your round.

No. 8: Help with Green Reading

Like morning dew, the film of water deposited onto greens by light rain can cause putts to leave a trail. Green reading is relatively easy when the group in front leaves clues as to the direction and amount of break.

No. 9: The Scottish Experience

If you’ve always wanted to tour Scotland with your golf buddies, you can get a reasonable taste of Scottish-style golf by playing a round in the rain at your local course. It’s cheaper than a flight to the British Isles, often just as wet, and it will leave you better prepared for any future golfing adventures across the pond.

No. 10: Play More Golf

If you’re prepared to play in the rain, every day becomes a potential golf day. How good is that?

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Michael is an avid amateur golfer, playing off a handicap of 7, with a deep passion for the game. He splits his time between Australia and the United States. He is a member of the New South Wales Social Golf Tour, which conducts events on a variety of courses in and around Sydney, Australia.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Jason

    Jun 5, 2014 at 12:57 am

    So true Happyday_J. I love the peace and serenity you get from being out alone in the rain. One big thing I notice is that people who play in the rain in tournaments or club events don’t know how to keep things dry.

    Here are a few rules I always follow:

    1st – Never, never ever, never ever ever leave your umbrella not covering something (a dry towel hanging from it) or your clubs exposed to the conditions.
    2nd – Carry two types of towels and multiples of them. Carry at least four hand towels to keep under your umbrella (one at a time) to wipe your grips dry, and two to three golf towels. Remember, Microfiber is best.
    3rd – Carry multiple gloves. Only go to rain gloves when you absolutely have to.
    4th – Have two to three really small and thin towels in your bag to wrap around your grips if needed. I’ve only had to do this less than five times in my life but it is a game saver.
    5th – Get the best rain gear you can and treat it like a tux. The better you treat it the better it will treat you.

    Jason
    Shotcaddy on Kickstarter

  2. truth

    May 3, 2014 at 3:28 am

    im so tired of the pace of play complaints about a 5hr round…most of u that complain are middle aged men who are most likely playing golf so often to escape the family and life they hate deep down, the escape from the trap they have set upon themselves. So stop complaining about spending 5hrs at a place you have been waiting all week to escape to in the first place

  3. B.Boston

    May 2, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    #11: Meteorologists are often wrong. It could turn out to be a beautiful day.

  4. Ben

    May 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    11. You get to drink more bourbon to ward off the cold and wet weather 😉

  5. AJ Jensen

    May 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Another footnote for #2: The golfers who DO brave the rain are probably just as hardcore as you are, so nobody ahead of you is going to burn five minutes looking for a ball in the woods

  6. ParHunter

    May 1, 2014 at 9:41 am

    #11 after playing through the rain and making advantage of the 10 point before the competition is cancelled because too many player gave up.

    I remember one society competition in heavy rain. I was scoring well because you could hit your chips directly at the pin and it would just stop there (in the puddle).
    We were determined to play the whole 18 holes however when we came to hole 15, a par 3 over water, all we could see was a flag stick in the middle of the water. No telling where the water hazard ended and the green started.

  7. Curt

    May 1, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Yup this list is exactly me! Just bought a new footjoy rain suit (which should last me years, should*) course is wide open, braving the elements and a nice coffee and baileys at the end of the tunnel!!

    • ParHunter

      May 1, 2014 at 9:30 am

      I was disappointed by my short sleeve footjoy rain shirt. I normally use a Galvin Green jacket but that day I decided to use my new footjoy rain shirt as it was warm and it only looked like light rain.
      After 9 holes the whole shirt was drenched and was sticking to my body. Not a nice feeling!

      I hope the footjoy rain suits are better than the short sleeve rain shirts!

  8. paul

    Apr 30, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I love to play after a nice rain. First thing in the morning when the sun comes up. The whole golf course lights up and looks amazing.

  9. Sky

    Apr 30, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    I agree with the bunker one. I love playing out of wet sand.

  10. Philip

    Apr 30, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    #11 – opportunity to work on your game and try shots your not to comfortable with and increase your confidence (helped my game immensely last fall)

    Myself, having grown up on the north atlantic coastline – rain was the norm. Definitely nothing good about playing in the hot sun.

  11. chris mayfa

    Apr 30, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    #11
    the first 10 dont apply because there is nothing good about playing in the rain

    • Paul Austin

      May 1, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Chris, respectfully disagree.
      We played 18 last Saturday morning in less than 3:30 walking with rain on the front nine. IMHO, that’s a wonderful pace of play vs 5 Hrs if it were sunny. Also agree with the point that the more you play in the wet, the better you are able to handle the different conditions.

      Paul

      • Chris mayfa

        May 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

        It rains less than 30/40 days a year here. So you do get used to dry golf.

        Saves you having to pack your wye weather gear

  12. Happyday_J

    Apr 30, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    great list, as a golfer who loves playing in the rain, I enjoyed this.

    I would just like to add one thing to the list:

    The peace and serenity that comes with playing in the rain. With a gentle rainfall, wide open golf course and playing by yourself. The sense of calm when you WALKING between shots, and the silence all around you, not a single noise but the sound of impact, its almost as if for a brief moment in time you have stepped into a Utopic world and all the troubles of this world no longer exist.

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The Gear Dive: Vokey Wedge expert Aaron Dill

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Titleist Tour Rep Aaron Dill on working under Bob Vokey, How he got the gig and working with names like JT, Jordan and Brooks.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Wedge Guy: Is your driver the first “scoring club”?

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I was traveling Sunday and didn’t get to watch the end of the PGA Championship, so imagine my shock Monday morning when I read what had happened on that back nine. Like most everyone, I figured Brooks Koepka had his game and his emotions completely under control and Sunday’s finish would be pretty boring and anti-climactic. Man, were we wrong!!?

As I read the shot-by-shot, disaster-by-disaster account of what happened on those few holes, I have to admit my somewhat cynical self became engaged. I realize the conditions were tough, but it still boils down to the fact that Koepka nearly lost this PGA Championship because he couldn’t execute what I call “basic golf” – hitting fairways and greens – when it counted. And Dustin Johnson lost his ability to do the same just as he got within striking distance.

I’ve long been a critic of the way the game has come to be played at the highest levels; what we used to call “bomb and gouge” has become the norm at the professional tour level. These guys are big strong athletes, and they go at it harder than anyone ever did in “the old days”. Watch closely and you’ll see so many of them are on their toes or even off the ground at impact, especially with the driver. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t see how that can be the path to consistent shotmaking.

So, my curiosity then drove me to the year-to-date statistics on the PGA Tour website to dive into this a bit deeper. What I found was quite interesting, and I believe can be helpful to all of you readers as you think about how to lower your handicap this season. Follow me here, as I think there are some very helpful numbers from the PGA Tour.
I’ve long contended that golf is a game of ball control . . . let’s call it shotmaking. Your personal strength profile will determine whether you are a long hitter or not, and there’s probably not a lot you can do (or will do) to change that dramatically. But PGA Tour statistics indicate that accuracy, not distance, is the key to better scoring.

The Tour leader in driving accuracy is Jim Furyk, the only guy who is hitting more than 75% of the fairways. The Tour average is under 62%, or not even 2 out of 3. That means the typical round has the tour professional playing at least 4-5 approach shots from the rough. I’m going to come back to that in just a moment and explore the “cost” of those missed fairways.

The Tour leader in greens-in-regulation is Tiger Woods at 74%, almost 3-out-of-4 . . . but the Tour average is less than 66%, or just under 2-out-of-3. I believe enlightenment comes by breaking that GIR statistic down even further.
From the fairway, the Tour leader in GIR is Justin Thomas at 85% and the worst guy at 65%, three points better than the tour average for GIR overall. Hmmmmm. From the rough, however, the best guy on Tour is Taylor Gooch at 63.4%, which is not as good as the very last guy from the fairway.

But let’s dive even a bit deeper to better understand the importance of driving accuracy. Is it true these guys are so good from the rough that hitting fairways doesn’t matter? Not according to the numbers.

From the rough in the range of 125-150 yards – a wedge for most of these guys – the tour’s best hit it 25-27 feet from the hole and only 30 tour pros are averaging inside 30 feet from that distance. But from the fairway, 25 yards further back – 150-175 yards – the tour’s best hit it inside 21-23 feet, and 160 guys are getting closer than 30 feet on average. Even from 175-200 in the fairway, the best on tour hit it closer than the best on tour from the rough 50 yards closer.

So, what do you do with this information? I encourage any serious golfer to really analyze your own rounds to see the difference in your scoring on holes where you find the fairway versus those where you don’t. I feel certain you’ll find throttling back a bit with your driver and focusing more on finding the fairway, rather than trying to squeeze a few more yards of the tee will help you shoot lower scores.

If you have the inclination to see what more fairways can do to your own scores, here’s a little experiment for you. Get a buddy or two for a “research round” and play this game: When you miss a fairway, walk the ball straight over to the fairway, and then 15 yards back. So, you’ll hit every approach from the fairway, albeit somewhat further back – see what you shoot.

Next week I’m going to follow up this “enlightenment” with some tips and techniques that I feel certain will help you hit more fairways so you can take this to the bank this season.

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Hot & Cold: Where strokes were won and lost at the PGA Championship

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In “Hot & Cold,” we’ll be focusing each week on what specific areas of the game players excelled and disappointed in throughout the previous tournament. On Sunday, Brooks Koepka made it four wins from his last eight appearances at major championships, and here’s a look at where some of the most notable players gained and lost strokes over the four days of action at Bethpage Black.

Hot

While Brooks Koepka’s play off the tee was excellent at last week’s PGA Championship, the American utterly dominated the field with his deadly approach play. The 29-year-old led the field in New York for his approach play gaining 9.5 strokes over his competitors. In case you were wondering, this represents Koepka’s career-best performance with his irons. Check out the clubs Koepka did the damage with at Bethpage Black in our WITB piece here.

Jordan Spieth finished T3 at last week’s event, and the Texan was streets ahead of anyone for the four days with the flat-stick in hand. Spieth gained a mammoth 10.6 strokes over the field on the greens of Bethpage Black, which is over three strokes more than anyone else achieved. It was the best-putting display of the 25-year-old’s career thus far, and Spieth now heads to Colonial CC ranked first in this week’s field for strokes gained: putting over his last 12 rounds.

Dustin Johnson came agonizingly close to capturing his second major title last week, and encouragingly for DJ is that he gained strokes in all of the significant strokes gained categories. Johnson also led the field for strokes gained: off the tee, gaining 7.2 strokes over the field – his best performance in this area this year.

Cold

Bubba Watson endured a wretched two days on the greens at Bethpage Black. In just 36 holes, Watson lost 6.8 strokes to the field with the flat-stick. Even more frustrating for Watson is that he gained 6.5 strokes for the two day’s tee to green. A tale of what could have been for the two-time Masters champion.

Phil Mickelson faded badly at last week’s championship, and it was a poor display with his irons that did the damage. Lefty lost 6.3 strokes to the field for his approach play in New York, which is his worst display in this area for 2019.

It was a quick exit for Tiger Woods at Bethpage Black, and though the 15-time major champion was far from his best off the tee (losing half a stroke), it was Woods’ putting that was his undoing. Woods lost almost a stroke and a half on the greens at Bethpage – his worst display with the putter since last August.

 

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