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Watching the pros can help you learn to play golf in the wind

Patrick WalshBy Patrick Walsh,
PGA Professional

If any of you watch the professional tournaments held in Hawaii or Britain, you have probably noticed that the professionals were playing in severe wind conditions. Hopefully, you noticed several adjustments they made to combat the wind by giving themselves the best chances at maintaining their balance, hitting the ball low and keeping control of their swings.

Listed below are some helpful tips on how to adjust your set-up and golf swing to salvage your rounds during windy conditions.

Tee Ball: When down wind use a 3-wood not a driver. The 3-wood hits the ball higher, which in turn makes it stay in the air longer. The 3-wood is also easier to control because of the shorter shaft and added loft of the face. Into the wind, though, hit your driver because that club will keep the ball down, thus fighting the wind and causing the ball to tumble forward once it hits the ground.

Putting: Widen your stance, bend more at the waist, move the ball slightly more toward middle and shorten your back stroke. There is nothing more nerve racking when you are putting on a fast green with the wind howling. Besides watching the ball oscillate and listening to your slacks rustling in the wind, you have a hard time steadying your upper body. Therefore, by widening your stance, moving the ball more towards middle and bending more at the waist you stabilize the lower and upper parts of your body, get your eyes more over the ball and create a more balanced base. Try this next time and you'll become more stable over the ball allowing you to concentrate on producing a shorter, more solid stroke. Remember, too long a stroke in the wind will cause the putter head and shaft to wobble causing off-center hits. Shorten up the stroke and you'll notice more solid contact and improve your chances of holing the putts.

Full Swing: During the final round most players worked on keeping their approach shots down out of the wind. They wanted to control the ball as much as possible and not let the wind blow it all over. The best way to keep the ball down is to follow these few principles:

1. Play the ball slightly farther back in your stance (1/2 to one ball back of its normal position)
2. Narrow your stance, setting your weight more toward the front side. This will reduce your movement off the ball, shorten the arc and reduce the power shift, which leads to lower ball flights.
3. Grip down on the club. Besides giving you more control this also shortens the arc to create a shallower path and lower ball flight.
4. Grip the club with relaxed hands and swing smoothly, free of tension.
5. Take one or two clubs more depending on the severity of the wind and DON'T TRY TO KILL THE BALL but JUST SWING EASY!

Walsh is a past champion of the Southwest Chapter, North Florida Section and two-time recipient of the Bill Strausbaugh Award. From 1993 through 2000 he played in the Callaway-Pebble Beach Invitational, featuring a limited number of invited Club Professionals, PGA Tour Professionals, Champion Tour Professionals and LPGA members. Past champions include Johnny Miller, Kirk Triplett, Jim Furyk and Robert Gamez.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Weight shift

    Andy Aitken wrote on: Apr 18, 2011

    Not sure if keeping your weight on the front leg is the right thing to do in high wind situations. This promotes a steeper and decending blow on the ball causing it to come off with more spin, subjecting the flight to charter the wind. I would say that a weight shift to the back leg might be more helpful in keeping the attack of the club more shallow, thus flighting the ball through the wind. Your toughts are welcome.