A golfer’s performance is directly affected by the weather conditions around them, with the Open Championship, the U.S. Open and Masters Tournament each bringing their own set of challenges. Potential dehydration and heat exhaustion caused by hot and humid temperatures, to stiff muscles and a lower body temperature that cold weather and gusts of wind bring, and uncomfortable playing conditions that are attributed to rain - there are many aspects that golfers must consider ahead of a round.

However, by amending their strategy and planning, golfers can take care of their bodies whilst remaining at peak performance, whatever the weather may bring.

Weather

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Heat and humidity

The US Open often brings about heat and humidity, meaning that golfers not only need to take extra care of themselves, they also need to prepare a strategy.

The air temperature can have a direct impact on the heat of the golf ball, with warmer balls travelling further. This is because the warmth enhances the resiliency of the ball, meaning it comes off the clubface with more velocity and spin than a colder ball would. The warmth also gives it more elasticity, making it bouncier.

While there are plenty of high temperature tournaments on the PGA tour, none are as exhausting as the St. Jude Classic in Tennessee. With temperatures often exceeding 30°C across most days, no other tournament is as consistently extreme.

Playing in hot and humid weather makes golfers more susceptible to sun burn, heat exhaustion, and even heatstroke. With body temperatures rising, tiredness and lack of energy are also common. To combat this, golfers stay hydrated and drink regularly to maintain their performance.

Rain

The Zurich Classic in New Orleans is notorious for being the wettest golf tournament of the year, with PGA research finding that they get the most rainfall per day and during the whole four-day tournament. In 2019, the Zurich Classic saw three inches of rain in seven hours, resulting in the course being finished early.

Whilst heavy rain can stop rounds from going ahead altogether, light rain brings its own difficulties. Not only does it make it harder for players to grip their clubs, shots will not go as far, and putts become slower and harder to read, as the greens are damp.

The Masters tournament, which usually takes place in Augusta around April, has had a good history with rainy weather. However, 2003 saw its first full postponement of the tournament since 1939. Heavy rain struck again just two years later in 2005, with the first round that year delayed by more than five hours. In a particularly difficult era for the Masters, seven straight tournaments were hit by rain from 2002-2008.

In areas of the green where water has accumulated, golfers may find that their shoes start to slip, or their feet sink into the ground, which makes it harder for them to find secure footing for their shot.

Another issue caused by rain is a plugged ball. This is where the ball gets stuck in the mud, as opposed to rolling over the green like it usually would on a dry day. Alternatively, a “mud ball” may be experienced, which refers to pieces of debris that get stuck to golf balls. The spin of a golf ball can also be affected by rain.

During rainy weather, golfers are recommended they wear several layers of clothing, including waterproof jackets and trousers, to stop them from getting too wet and lowering their core body temperature.

Wind

Every year, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is held at Kapalua, Hawaii. Taking place in January, golfers almost always battle the winds on this course. In 2013, the tournament was reduced to 54 holes, as the wind was too strong, hitting speeds of up to 40mph at times. British golfer Ian Poulter succinctly described it as ‘not golf’.

There are several effects that golfers need to be aware of when the wind strikes. Strong headwinds and tailwinds have a significant effect on the ball flight depending on which way the wind is blowing, and can create unexpected changes to a golfer’s planned movements.

To try and compensate for these windy conditions, golfers will choose a higher or lower numbered club.

If crosswinds are blowing, the ball can be knocked off its projected path, causing it to land in hazards like sand or water.

With the wind potentially changing directions during a round, the way a hole is played can differ from player to player.

Aside from golf swings, players often find that maintaining balance is more difficult in the wind – especially if they try to put extra power into their swing, as it causes their muscles to tense.

Freezing temperatures

When you think of Arizona, you tend to image desert-like heat, but in 2013, it was the coldest golf tournament of the year. Played in the mountains, snow blanketed the ground, and temperatures reached just below 5°C. Play was suspended at one point as Rory McIlroy astonishingly commented how he had never seen such conditions on the PGA Tour. In fact, in nearly 50 years, only six times has snow affected the PGA Tour.

On these cold days, the air density tends to be greater, or ‘thick’, which means the golf ball needs more velocity, if players want to hit a longer shot.

But that is not the only thing that the cold weather affects – it can impact a golfer’s body too. Lower temperatures make muscles stiff, making it harder to loosen up and achieve the muscle extension required to produce powerful and accurate shots.

Bundling up in thick clothing can also make it harder to swing freely, which is why in cold temperatures, it is recommended that golfers wear lots of thin layers. A turtleneck is the ideal base layer, followed by loose-fitting shirts, and a moisture-wicking jacket. Golfers may also use gloves that are specifically designed for the sport.

One piece of advice given to golfers is, if they are dressed appropriately and have warmed up, to practice playing golf in colder temperatures so they can become used to it.

Close

Heat and humidity

The US Open often brings about heat and humidity, meaning that golfers not only need to take extra care of themselves, they also need to prepare a strategy.

The air temperature can have a direct impact on the heat of the golf ball, with warmer balls travelling further. This is because the warmth enhances the resiliency of the ball, meaning it comes off the clubface with more velocity and spin than a colder ball would. The warmth also gives it more elasticity, making it bouncier.

While there are plenty of high temperature tournaments on the PGA tour, none are as exhausting as the St. Jude Classic in Tennessee. With temperatures often exceeding 30°C across most days, no other tournament is as consistently extreme.

Playing in hot and humid weather makes golfers more susceptible to sun burn, heat exhaustion, and even heatstroke. With body temperatures rising, tiredness and lack of energy are also common. To combat this, golfers stay hydrated and drink regularly to maintain their performance.

Close

Rain

The Zurich Classic in New Orleans is notorious for being the wettest golf tournament of the year, with PGA research finding that they get the most rainfall per day and during the whole four-day tournament. In 2019, the Zurich Classic saw three inches of rain in seven hours, resulting in the course being finished early.

Whilst heavy rain can stop rounds from going ahead altogether, light rain brings its own difficulties. Not only does it make it harder for players to grip their clubs, shots will not go as far, and putts become slower and harder to read, as the greens are damp.

The Masters tournament, which usually takes place in Augusta around April, has had a good history with rainy weather. However, 2003 saw its first full postponement of the tournament since 1939. Heavy rain struck again just two years later in 2005, with the first round that year delayed by more than five hours. In a particularly difficult era for the Masters, seven straight tournaments were hit by rain from 2002-2008.

In areas of the green where water has accumulated, golfers may find that their shoes start to slip, or their feet sink into the ground, which makes it harder for them to find secure footing for their shot.

Another issue caused by rain is a plugged ball. This is where the ball gets stuck in the mud, as opposed to rolling over the green like it usually would on a dry day. Alternatively, a “mud ball” may be experienced, which refers to pieces of debris that get stuck to golf balls. The spin of a golf ball can also be affected by rain.

During rainy weather, golfers are recommended they wear several layers of clothing, including waterproof jackets and trousers, to stop them from getting too wet and lowering their core body temperature.

Close

Wind

Every year, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is held at Kapalua, Hawaii. Taking place in January, golfers almost always battle the winds on this course. In 2013, the tournament was reduced to 54 holes, as the wind was too strong, hitting speeds of up to 40mph at times. British golfer Ian Poulter succinctly described it as ‘not golf’.

There are several effects that golfers need to be aware of when the wind strikes. Strong headwinds and tailwinds have a significant effect on the ball flight depending on which way the wind is blowing, and can create unexpected changes to a golfer’s planned movements.

To try and compensate for these windy conditions, golfers will choose a higher or lower numbered club.

If crosswinds are blowing, the ball can be knocked off its projected path, causing it to land in hazards like sand or water.

With the wind potentially changing directions during a round, the way a hole is played can differ from player to player.

Aside from golf swings, players often find that maintaining balance is more difficult in the wind – especially if they try to put extra power into their swing, as it causes their muscles to tense.

Close

Freezing temperatures

When you think of Arizona, you tend to image desert-like heat, but in 2013, it was the coldest golf tournament of the year. Played in the mountains, snow blanketed the ground, and temperatures reached just below 5°C. Play was suspended at one point as Rory McIlroy astonishingly commented how he had never seen such conditions on the PGA Tour. In fact, in nearly 50 years, only six times has snow affected the PGA Tour.

On these cold days, the air density tends to be greater, or ‘thick’, which means the golf ball needs more velocity, if players want to hit a longer shot.

But that is not the only thing that the cold weather affects – it can impact a golfer’s body too. Lower temperatures make muscles stiff, making it harder to loosen up and achieve the muscle extension required to produce powerful and accurate shots.

Bundling up in thick clothing can also make it harder to swing freely, which is why in cold temperatures, it is recommended that golfers wear lots of thin layers. A turtleneck is the ideal base layer, followed by loose-fitting shirts, and a moisture-wicking jacket. Golfers may also use gloves that are specifically designed for the sport.

One piece of advice given to golfers is, if they are dressed appropriately and have warmed up, to practice playing golf in colder temperatures so they can become used to it.

Sources

• https://golftips.golfweek.com/effect-golf-ball-temperature-golf-ball-performance-1433.html

• https://golfglam.co.uk/blogs/news/how-does-the-weather-affect-your-game-of-golf

• https://www.usopen.com/2020/articles/usga-postpones-u-s--open-to-september.html

• https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2014962-10-pga-courses-with-the-most-extreme-weather-conditions

• https://golfglam.co.uk/blogs/news/how-does-the-weather-affect-your-game-of-golf

• https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/3-ways-weather-affects-the-sport-of-golf/329093

• https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2014962-10-pga-courses-with-the-most-extreme-weather-conditions

• https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/the-8-times-weather-mastered-the-masters/333225

• https://golfglam.co.uk/blogs/news/how-does-the-weather-affect-your-game-of-golf

• https://golftips.golfweek.com/weather-affect-game-golf-2053.html

• https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/3-ways-weather-affects-the-sport-of-golf/329093

• https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2014962-10-pga-courses-with-the-most-extreme-weather-conditions

• https://golftips.golfweek.com/golf-balls-1426.html

• https://golfglam.co.uk/blogs/news/how-does-the-weather-affect-your-game-of-golf

• https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/3-ways-weather-affects-the-sport-of-golf/329093

• https://www.golfdigest.com/story/proven-by-science-do-colder-golf-balls-lose-distance-and-does-leaving-golf-clubs-in-the-cold-affect-their-performance

• https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2014962-10-pga-courses-with-the-most-extreme-weather-conditions

• https://www.sbnation.com/golf/2013/2/20/4009786/wgc-accenture-match-play-2013-snow-weather-delay-suspended