Playing in the rain

Published 12/10/2008 22:29:51

Few golfers relish the prospect of playing in the rain. Wet weather affects the playing conditions of the course, and may lower morale - there's nothing more miserable than struggling through a round feeling the damp seep through clothes and shoes.

But with careful planning, playing in the rain needn't be a washout. To play your best, learn to adapt your game with a few simple techniques, and always set out properly equipped for a sudden shower.

Modern wet-weather clothing is light and waterproof, and does much to keep you comfortably dry. Buy the best you can afford, and look after it carefully, so that you continue to enjoy your game whatever the weather. Have it with you whenever you play a round.


Ready For The Rain


A few well chosen wet-weather basics should give good service for years.

A men's golf umbrella is larger and stronger than a normal one. For extra protection on an exposed course, choose one with a sturdy frame - a weak-framed umbrella is likely to collapse when the wind picks up.

There's a smaller golf umbrella for women and junior players which is robust and easy to hold on to in high winds.


Keep two large towels in your bag. Use one to dry and clean your clubface before and after every shot. Grass, mud and water clog up the grooves so that you don't make firm contact with the ball at impact, and your control over the shot is reduced.

Dry and clean your golf ball on the same towel after every hole and before you putt.


You can't lift and clean the ball between the tee and the green, so when you're playing from a wet fairway there's likely to be water on the ball at impact. This reduces control and the amount of spin you put on the ball, which ends in a flier -  the ball doesn't stop as quickly as it should on landing. Also, when you strike a wet ball a certain amount of spray is thrown up, slowing the ball down as it travels through the air or along the ground.

Take the effects of water into account, and allow for less backspin, when visualizing shots in the rain.

Use the second towel to dry your hands and the grip as thoroughly as possible. If they're wet, the club is likely to skip in your hands during the swing, and the clubface won't strike the ball squarely.


Keeping Dry


A good waterproof suit makes all the difference to a round in the rain - keep one in your bag at all times so you're always prepared for a sudden shower. The best type of a wet-weather suit lets air pass through, keeping you cool and dry. Beware of buying a cheap airtight suit which traps the moisture in, leaving you hot and sticky.

As well as keeping your head dry, a golf hat stops water running down your face. A hat makes for greater comfort and concentration - rain trickling down your face may blur your vision and put you off your shot.


A rain glove helps you grip a club more firmly in the rain. This type of glove is made from rubber - it's similar to a washing-up glove. In damp conditions rubber gives a firmer hold than other materials, and stops the club from turning in your hands.

If it starts to rain during a round replace your normal glove with a rain glove immediately. Never use a leather glove in the rain. Not only is it more liable to slip, but the moisture will also ruin it.


Keep your golf clubs dry under a waterproof bag hood. This stops water running down inside the bag and making your clubs wet. Most new bags should have a hood - keep this in mind when purchasing one.

If you play most of your golf in a damp climate, consider getting your clubs fitted with half-cord grips. This type of rubber grip fits over your regular grips to give a more secure hold when it rains.

Waterproof shoes, also made from rubber, stop water seeping through so you can avoid the dismal experience of playing a round with wet feet. Check your studs don't get clogged up with wet grass after each hole as this could make you slip.


Swinging In The Rain


As well as having your correct wet-weather equipment you must also be aware of swing problems caused by wet conditions.

A normal swing is difficult in a wet-weather suit. The extra weight and additional layers restrict body movement. Don't try to overcome the problem by forcing your swing, instead keep your normal tempo and consider making a three-quarter swing if it feels comfortable.

The key is to maintain your concentration and tempo in the rain. This may be harder than your think. A wet fairway slows down the roll of the ball, so many players wrongly increase the speed of their swing to compensate. Results can often prove disastrous.


Know The Rules


It's vital to understand the rules that apply to rain-affected areas of the course.

Excessive rain can cause small areas of the green, fairway and bunker to become flooded. These areas are described as 'casual water' in the R&A rules book.

If there's casual water directly between your ball and the pin when you're pitting, you can re-position your golf ball - so long as you don't move it nearer to the hole.


If your ball lands in casual water you can lift it and drop it on the nearest dry area without penalty. In a bunker the nearest point of relief must be in that same bunker - and not the nearest dry point on the fairway or green.

If you lose your ball in casual water, you can drop another one without penalty near to the point where you think it landed - providing your partners agree. You pick up a 1-stroke penalty, as with a normal lost ball, if your partners don't agree that the ball finished in casual water.

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