Winter has set in, the weather has very much turned, and you’re faced with a few months without golf until things warm up again… right?
Wrong. Golf really can be an all-year-round sport, even in the UK (although if you’d much rather play somewhere warm, check out our guide to the best winter golf destinations). All you need is the right equipment, the right clothing and the right attitude, and you’ll find the experience surprisingly rewarding – not to mention the fact that your clubmates will think you’re hardcore!
This guide gives you all the basic pointers you need around playing golf in winter.
Is it worth playing golf in winter?
The short answer is yes! If you’re serious about your game and want to bring your handicap down, then playing through the winter months can make a real difference. For starters, the cold, wet and windy weather gives you an extra challenge which can help sharpen your skills even further. Then there’s the fact that when the spring comes around, you won’t have to worry about getting yourself back in the swing of things: you’ll already be on form when the fair-weather golfers come out of hibernation.
There are practical benefits to winter golf, too. Think of all the sunny summer Saturdays you’ve spent held up before each hole because of how busy your local course has been. This is far less likely to be an issue in winter: quieter courses should mean fewer frustrating waits between holes, and quicker rounds that help you fit golf into your day more easily.
What clothing should you wear when playing golf in winter?
More than a century ago, Shackleton and his men crossed the icy landscape of South Georgia in woollen garments and not much more. So, playing golf in a British winter in modern clothing is a doddle in comparison! As long as you’re well-prepared, you should be able to keep warm throughout your round. We recommend focusing on these three areas:
Jackets and trousers that are both warm and waterproof are much lighter and far less restrictive in movement than they used to be. However, this is very much an area where you get what you pay for, so make sure you invest in a decent set: you’ll feel the benefit for many winters to come.
On the inside, base layers can make a much bigger difference than they might seem, because they help keep your core temperature up so that warm blood continues to circulate around your body. This is despite the fact that many of them are so thin that they will barely affect your swing movement, if indeed, they affect it at all.
Keeping your hands warm and dry is a vital part of winter golf: if you can’t grip the clubs properly, you won’t be driving or putting to anything like your usual standard. Waterproof and water-resistant gloves are thicker than normal golf gloves, so will change your club feel slightly, but this is more than compensated by the extra grip you’ll enjoy.
What does winter golf mean from an equipment perspective?
As well as keeping yourself warm and dry, playing golf in winter also means changing some of the kit in your bag, both inside and outside:
Wetter weather means that courses are likely to be much softer than they would be in summer. To counteract this, it’s worth considering switching to firmer balls that will fly through the air more efficiently and carry further when they land, thanks to decreased friction.
More clubs – or fewer clubs
There are two conflicting schools of thought around club quantity when playing a winter round. On one hand, more clubs give you more flexibility when strong winds and shorter ball rolls mean you aren’t hitting the ball as far. On the other hand, taking a smaller set can help you improve your problem-solving and shot-making skills and make you think a little harder.
Winter trolley wheels
Winter golf always brings implications regarding trolleys, and some courses ban them outright in the winter. If they’re still allowed, you may be required (and may even find it beneficial) to switch to winter wheels, which are far less likely to churn up the course as you work your way around.
What else should you take into consideration?
Alongside clothing and equipment, there are plenty of other things you can do to make playing golf in winter an easier, more rewarding experience. We recommend these three in particular:
Carry your bag
If you can, or if trolleys aren’t allowed in winter, leave your trolley at home and carry your bag instead. Not only does this minimise the wear and tear that the course is subjected to, but the extra exercise of carrying the weight can help you keep warm.
Rethink your putts
Damper greens and extra friction mean that your putts won’t run as far as they normally would in summer. Make sure you take this into account when laying up for the green and recalibrate your realistic putting limits.
Exercise your muscles
Don’t neglect the value of a good warm-up before you start: if your body is cold, it’s easy to pull a back muscle as you swing and bring your round to an early end. Take a look at this guide on golf swing exercises, and make sure you make time for them before you tee off at the first.
Get golf insurance with SportsCover Direct
However much golf you’re planning to play this winter, don’t tee off without comprehensive golf insurance for all your equipment as well as yourself. SportsCover Direct provides full cover for golfers of every ability, ensuring you won’t lose out if your clubs are lost, stolen or damaged; if you slip and hurt yourself while out on the course; or even if one of your shots injures someone else.
All our policies are competitively priced and available through flexible payment plans, so that you can get cover whatever your budget. Take a closer look at all the features of our golf insurance policies here.