Picture this scene on a true links golf course with a 25 to 30 km predominant crosswind...let's say, for arguments sake...St. Andrews Links in bonnie Fife, Scotland.
What clubs should you add/take out of your bag for this round of links golf?
This is what you need to do:
Take out of your golf bag (remembering to always keep 14 clubs or fewer at all times):
• High lofted fairway woods
• Lob wedge
Add to your golf bag:
• A 1, 2, 3 iron or low lofted Hybrid
Your entire golf plan for the day will be centred around keeping the ball flight low and reducing spin on the ball.
Let us work through a Par 4 and a Par 5 scenario:
• Driver - Firstly we will peg the ball up a little lower than normal.
• Take your set-up for the shot on the right of the Tee box. (Left to right wind and vice versa for wind off the other side)
• The object is to hit the ball at the left-hand side of the fairway and let the ball drift back to the centre.
• On a Reachable Par 4, the plan is similar—aim for the left side of the green and let the ball drift back. Always assess where the hazards are and plan accordingly.
NOTE: Bunkers are mostly very penal on a Links!!
• On a Par 5 the plan is to keep your 2nd shot on the fairway...
• This is where your long irons come into play.
• Work your yardage out and try hit the shot to your favourite distance (say 100 yards)
• Your approach to the green will be different to that of a calm day. (No Lob Wedges)
• Take a 6, 7, or 8 iron, hold the golf club slightly down the shaft, and move the ball back of centre in your stance.
• Now the trick is to take a three-quarter or half swing at the ball
• Your Target landing area is the front edge or just short of the green, depending on circumstances
• This will allow the ball to roll out towards the pin
• Should you miss the green, opt for a 7, 8 or 9 iron and run the ball to the pin. (NO Fancy Lob Shots!!)
• On this kind of day, you will miss many greens due to the wind, and therefore this is where you can save your score!!
• Object is to get the ball on the ground ASAP to negate the wind's influence.
• Possibly the most difficult part of the game under these conditions!
• Widen your stance, make sure you are balanced and set your putter. Remember, the wind will have an effect on the ball speed and roll, so establish a few factors:
• Wind direction
• The biggest mistake most amateurs make is to rush the putt. (try beat the gusts of wind!!)
• Select your line (pick up a mark on the green where you want the ball to start out and set the putter for this target)
• Don't overthink the putt and keep your stroke as smooth as possible
• When ready, pull the trigger remembering to watch the ball through the strike
• Your objective is obviously to hole it, but at worst you only want a 2 footer for the next putt
RESULT: NO 3 PUTTS!!
Playing links, or any other course for that matter, requires a pre-round plan and thought process before and on the golf course.
Your chipping will MAKE or BREAK your round. So do as the Pros do and practice your chipping and putting regularly.
A final thought to playing Golf in windy conditions:
DO NOT TRY TO HIT THE COVER OFF THE BALL. This will only add spin and miss directed shots.
Try to hit every shot at 75 – 80% velocity.
Use a longer iron when approaching the green.
Try to keep your rhythm throughout.
Joel Steenekamp has played golf for over 45 years and participated at Top Class Representative level in South Africa.(current handicap index of 4.5 @ 71 years of age).
As a previous co-owner of one of the largest golf retail businesses in SA, he enjoys sharing his Vast Knowledge and Expertise, with Beginners and Accomplished golfers alike.
Joel believes in keeping Instruction Simple. (KISS). His latest venture, Golf and Wildlife Experiences, a tour business with a Difference, in SA, has been stalled, due to COVID 19.
The Website is in Development.
Photo: By Chris, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32927609