The wet season adds an extra dimension to playing golf in Thailand. The good news is that even if you get wet you’re unlikely to become cold and often rain arrives in short, sharp bursts typically late in the afternoon. Don’t let the wet weather ruin your round, manage the elements and know that if you are in competition mode everyone has the same challenges. With a wet weather strategy, chances are you’ll come out on top. Here are our top 10 tips to consider for your strategy to manage swinging in the rain.
1. Stay Safe
Perhaps our most important bit of advice is to stay safe out there. Make sure to leave the golf course immediately when you see lightning or hear thunder. If you are caught in the open, crouch down and stay away from your golf equipment and other players. Far too many golfers are injured each year by lightning strikes, no round of golf is worth losing your life over. Additionally, if you’re riding in a golf cart (probably a good idea in the wet) make sure to stick to cart paths. Golf carts are not specifically designed to drive in the rain and they can easily sink into mud or even worse, slide or spin out of control. Lee Trevino: “When I’m on a golf course and it starts to rain with lightning, I hold up my one-iron, even God can’t hit a one-iron.”
These days there are many ways you can get an accurate forecast of the day’s weather with hourly updates. Even if the chances of rain are slim, always plan to have an umbrella and your preferred wet weather gear on hand.
3. Keep Dry
If you can’t keep yourself dry, wet weather golf won’t be fun. In our warm humid conditions you need to make decisions about how you can stay comfortable. Long trousers and sleeves described as water proof (are they really?) may not be the answer. Perhaps light weight shorts which dry quickly and just a short sleeved water proof top may be more practical. Additionally a hat with an all-round brim may be a better choice than the usual cap. Number one in importance goes without saying; it’s really worth getting the best umbrella money can buy and always, always, always have it at hand!
4. Keep Your Golf Gear Dry
Sometimes this means having on hand multiple gloves, towels and even a spare shirt and sox. Use the hanging space of the spokes of the umbrella to keep gloves and towels as dry as possible and take off your gloves each time between shots. It’s hard to keep an exposed golf bag dry and free from leaking because of the number of zipped compartments. It’s worth investing in a plastic bag cover, ideally seethrough, where you can get easy access to your clubs and bag pockets. Another tip is to hold the club you are about to use in the same hand that is holding the umbrella, this way the grip won’t be as exposed. Wet grips and hands always need towel drying before playing the shot.
5. Know The Rules
Playing in the wet can mean ‘Winter Rules’ or ‘preferred lies’ on closely mown areas through the green. This ruling allows you to mark your ball, clean it and replace (not drop) it not nearer the hole. Always check with the Match Committee to understand what is allowed. Wet conditions often means casual water. If water is visible where you stand or beneath the ball you can clean the ball and drop it without penalty at the nearest point of full relief from the condition, not nearer the hole but not necessarily on the fairway. Any overflow of water from a water hazard which is outside the margin of the hazard is also casual water. If you come up against casual water in a bunker you can take relief without penalty in a similar way but only within the hazard. There is no relief without penalty from casual water in any other hazard.
6. Club Selection
When it’s wet the ball travels less far, so take at least an extra club as there will also be little roll on impact with the ground. Taking an extra club will also allow you to swing easy and that will help you maintain good balance and a firm grip. Consider making more use of fairway metals like 5-, 7- and 9-woods in such conditions, you’ll get more loft because of the low centre of gravity in the club head and the carefully designed head will nip the ball cleanly off soggy ground. As conditions under foot become wet and slippery, ensure you take a slightly wider stance for extra stability and swing within yourself.
7. Bold Chipping and Putting
Around the green be bold. Position the ball towards the back of your stance and play the shot with your arms to get a solid strike and the ball rolling. Greens will inevitably be slow and bumpy so be positive with your putting. Take any break or borrow out of the putt by ensuring a firm strike into the back of the hole. One advantage of playing in wet weather is that the greens will be soft, so you’ll be able to fire your shots right at the flag. Hit your short irons and pitches right at the puddles that are close to the hole, because they’ll stop the ball dead.
Bunkers like Chip Shots Set up similar to a short pitch or chip shot with your feet closer together. Take a half back swing and hit closer to the ball than normal with plenty of speed. Hold off or abbreviate the follow through and punch the shot out. You’ll find the ball pops out quite easily with a little bit of backspin making it easier to get closer to the hole.
9. Focus On Your Game
Don’t rush your shots or dismantle your pre-shot routine just because the conditions are unfavorable. Much like a normal shot on a sunny dry day, devote your entire attention to the shot you are about to hit. With rain running down your neck, you subconsciously risk hurrying both your setup and your swing. In those circumstances try to make a conscious effort to get properly settled over the ball, then to swing as smoothly and fully as possible.
10. Keep a Sense of Humour
Wet weather will hinder your normal routine and your concentration on the course, accept it. Smile at the inevitable bad shot and give the next your best attempt. If you can stay positive and persist, what you might consider a disappointing score will probably turn out better than most. You also need to accept that the round is likely to be slower. Don’t fight it, just learn a few wet weather golf jokes to pass the time and keep smiling. “Two golfers were standing overlooking the river. One golfer looked to the other and said, “Look at those idiots fishin’ in the rain.”