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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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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Srixon ZX and TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairways and My top 3 drivers!

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Masters hangover week is here! I have had the new Srixon ZX fairway out on the course and it is underrated as you would imagine. Reshafted the SIM2 Max 3w and it has been super consistent and comfortable. Talking about the top 3 drivers I have been hitting this year.

 

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between good amateurs and those who are not-so-good—and between the top professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—lies in the consistency of their pre-shot routine. I read an interesting account on this subject after the final round of the 1990 Masters when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Greg Norman. I know that was 30 years ago, but the lesson is just as relevant today.

This particular analyst timed the pre-shot routines of both players during the first three rounds and found that on the final day that Norman got quicker and quicker through his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

Anytime you watch professional golf—or the better players at your club—you’ll see precision and consistency in the way they approach all of their shots. There is a lesson there for all of us—so, here are my ideas of how the pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land, and roll. It is certainly realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches, and putts, as they are all very different challenges. As you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

On any shot, I believe the best starting point is from behind the ball, seeing in your “mind’s eye” the film clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight path it will take, and on greenside shots, just how it will roll out. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and take as many practice swings as it takes to “feel” the swing that will produce that visualized shot path for you.

Your actual pre-shot routine can start when you see that shot clearly and begin your approach the ball to set up. From that “trigger point,” you should work hard to do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. When you are out there “banging balls,” don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot.

So, guys and ladies, there’s my $.02 on the pre shot routine. What do you have to add?

 

 

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Ways to Win: Hideki Matsuyama from Low Am to low man at the Masters

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They say the Masters does not start until the back nine on Sunday, but by that time, this year’s iteration was all but wrapped up. Hideki Matsuyama stepped onto the 10th tee with a five-stroke lead and the volatile back nine in front of him. The Augusta pines would be void of roars, though, as Matsuyama’s pursuers near the top of the leaderboard struggled to mount a significant charge. The closest challenger was a late-charging Xander Schauffele, who made four straight birdies to get to within two of the lead heading to the 16th tee. His hopes were then quickly dashed when he dunked his tee shot in the water and eventually made a triple-bogey. Augusta National Golf Club played difficult this spring. Contrary to the record-setting November version, the greens were more brown and firm than typical and required precision. Luckily for Matsuyama, precision has made him one of the elite golfers in the world. He earned this green jacket. He just happened to earn it on Saturday where his 65 was three strokes better than the next-best round. Using V1 Game to analyze his Strokes Gained performance shows Matsuyama gained 6.7 strokes on the average PGA Tour field on Saturday and 4.2 of those were from his iron game.

Matsuyama has always been a premier ball striker and, if anything, poor putting has held him back from winning more. Augusta National is no place for a balky putter and Matsuyama has made some significant strides in that category. While he did not gain strokes on the field in putting this week, he managed to get to average and, with his elite ballstriking, that was enough. Augusta National’s lightning-quick, undulated greens reward a properly-struck shot and punish even the slightest mishit. Matsuyama made 96 feet of putts Saturday (the PGA TOUR average is around 70 feet), including birdie putts of five, 19, 10, four and 10 feet. He also made a six-foot eagle putt on 15. You don’t have to be an elite putter when you have opportunities that close. Good for Matsuyama, because while he filled it up on Saturday, for the week, his putting was sub-standard.

V1 Game breaks down putting performance by distance from the hole, where we can see that Matsuyama lost strokes to the field in all but four distance buckets. He gave significant strokes back to the field from 4-6 feet, 11-15 ft, and 31-50 feet. Matsuyama had four 3-putts on the week, including one on Saturday and one Sunday. That’s progressing in the right direction, but still with room for improvement for the 29-year-old Matsuyama.

If you are going to win the Masters, it always starts with the par 5s and Matsuyama took advantage, playing them in 11-under for the week. He played the par 3s in +1 and the par 4s in even par for the week. Clearly, the par 5s were vital to him being able to get to the required -10 to win the tournament by just a single stroke. Augusta National has arguably the finest set of par fives in golf, each of them scorable and each of them dangerous. With V1 Game’s Hole History, Hideki played the 13th the best at -4 and the 8th the next-best at -3. Hideki made three eagles on the par 5s and averaged 4.3 strokes on the par 5s. That even includes the near-disaster on 15 on Sunday. Matsuyama was consistently in play off the tee and able to challenge the greens with his approach shots throughout the week.

All of the above added up to a healthy lead and afforded Matsuyama some cushion coming down the stretch, cushion that he needed as he got closer to earning his first green jacket. The golf tournament could have turned out significantly differently if young Will Zalatoris could have found a way to play better around Amen Corner, but instead Matsuyama was able to stumble a bit down the stretch and still maintain a two-stroke cushion until the final putt was holed. The Strokes Gained Heatmap from V1 Game for his final round scorecard shows exactly which part of his game became unsteady. Matsuyama overshot the 15th green into the lake and made bogey (Approach). Then three-putted the 16th green and missed a short putt on 18 (putting), knowing bogey was enough to win the golf tournament.

Still, a well-earned victory for Matsuyama. He struck the ball better than anyone else this week and did enough to claim the victory. Augusta National showed its teeth with firmer, faster greens and challenged the field to be precise. Matsuyama has made a career out of being precise. The same strength that brought Hideki Low Amateur honors more than 10 years ago brought him the green jacket as low man in the 2021 Masters.

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