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Oct 22

Golf in Wind and Rain

Wind and Rain Affect Your Golf

Hit Low and Consider Not Playing at All

I noticed on the news the other day that they went ahead and started an LPGA event in China just days after a typhoon roared through, Most of us have seen major thunderstorms at one time or another, and some of us have even seen megastorms. I would wager that many of us have not experienced a good old-fashioned Asian typhoon. For those of us in love with the game to the point of silliness, it’s probable that many (I admit it from the start) have played golf in weather that would have been better left unexperienced, maybe even dangerous weather. I always begin asking these questions when the weather up north turns to autumn, and the Bahaman, Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean courses have storms, albeit warm ones. In my younger years, I played anyway – to quote Shakespeare, “Sing heigh ho, the sind and the rain.”

golf-rainThe question of whether one should play often depends on age, experience, and general maturity. When I played on the Oregon coast as a kid, it was whenever I got the chance, no matter what the weatherperson said was going to happen. Everything but my actual game was invincible so far as I was concerned. I played in lightning and thunderstorms, oblivious to the reality that – sorry, Mr. Trevino, God can indeed hit a one-iron. I have played in winds almost strong enough to nearly lift my then small frame off the ground. I’ve played on courses so flooded that scuba gear in the bag wasn’t such a bad idea. I’ve hit distance clubs well and have had the ball come close to falling behind me on impact. Wind? Rain? What are they? Those rounds are now some of my favorite memories – of course,  I was an idiot then.
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My brother, a fine golfer, used to insist that I hit it all low, but I was into elevation at the time. “No no no,” I’d say. “The ground will slow it down. I’m going for carry.” He’d shake his head, take out a 2-iron and outdrive me by a mile. Today, I watched a demonstration offered by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal. They informed me that my brother was oh so correct, and that I was oh so not. They gave me a lesson in hands forward, back in stance, striking the upper face of the ball rain and wind tips. What they suggested even should help those 60 mph gusts that cross the fairway left to right, and then right to left when you readdress the ball. A small part of me still wanted to argue with them (Blair demonstrated with a driver – what a great swing, powerful). I thought back to the Oregon days when I should have been in a fallout shelter, not on a golf course – and I thought, “Don’t you guys know what happens to thick Oregon grass that’s undermowed and overly wet, especially in the rough? It’ll go nowhere. Then I remembered that you can skip a stone over water, but if you drop it vertically, nothing. All right then, I’ll go with the experts. Next time I’m stupid enough to play in a typhoon, I’ll put the hands forward, move it back, and hit the top half – right.
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What was really fun about those rounds at the Oregon coast? Once the weather became utterly absurd, my brother and I put away the score cards, and competed at who can hit a decent shot at all in the same direction as the pin. A serious game took on overtones of miniature golf. Oh, those really were the days, but it’s something you don’t do anymore, unless you’ve been given a professional diagnosis. Now, it’s a hearth fire, slippers, a book or the Golf Channel. Heigh-ho, the wind and the rain indeed!

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.