We've all been there: You're looking forward to a great day on the course, but the forecast calls for rain. Or the temperature suddenly drops into ski-weather territory. Or maybe you scored a great deal on a tee times in Phoenix...in July.
For most of the country, perfect golf-weather days are rare, especially during the shoulder seasons, so if you want to stay sharp year-round, it's important to be prepared to battle the elements. Here's how to give yourself the best chance to thrive when you're faced with a round in the heat, cold or rain.
Preparation is key when it comes to playing in the rain. First, you need to gather your arsenal:
Next: Stay organized. Make sure you know where everything is located so you don't waste precious moments fumbling around in your bag as it starts pouring.
When it's time to tee off, open that umbrella and hang some extra gloves and towels on the ribs underneath. Plan on keeping the umbrella open for the entirety of your round, unless the rain stops. Use the towel to dry your grips before every shot. If you opt to use regular gloves instead of rain gloves, the towel is also handy for keeping your hands dry.
Staying as dry and warm as possible will make a world of difference, so try to minimize your practice swings and time spent out from under the umbrella.
One last tip: after you replace your ball on the green after marking, keep your umbrella over it as long as possible to reduce the amount of water that falls on the ball before you putt.
The goal is to stay as warm as possible, so layering is important. You'll need:
-A base layer (some kind of compression garment and/or mockneck)
-A secondary layer (an insulating fleece or performance-fabric quarter-zip works well)
-Outerwear (a windbreaker or rain jacket does the trick)
-Headwear (replace that ball cap with a beanie! It makes a huge difference!)
One of my very favorite cold-weather items is my pair of cart mitts. They're great on their own, but they're a whole new level of awesome when you add some handwarmers to the inside. In fact, put those handwarmers everywhere you can! The smaller and more enclosed the space, the better.
Another one of my favorite finds is my Mobile Warming electric jacket. It might seem excessive, but I hate being cold, so battery-operated heat is a win, always!
Another no-brainer tip: Wear your rain pants over your golf pants.
Depending on the course you're playing, walking will almost always keep you warmer than riding.
Make sure you club up, too, because losing distance in the cold is a real thing! You should also try to keep your ball in your pocket as often as possible, unless you have a hand-warmer stashed there, in which case it would be against the rules.
Finally, many of my friends in Ireland and Scotland keep a little flask in their bag to have a little sip of something here and there between holes. A thermos full of hot chcolate or tea would probably have a similar effect, but there's nothing like a "wee nip" to warm you up in preparation for the 19th hole.
Thriving in the heat requires a lot more planning than simply wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Ideally, you'll want to wear:
-Light colors and breathable or performance fabrics
-A wide-brim hat (to protect the back of your neck)
-Sunscreen (liberally applied and re-applied during the round)
-A lightweight, breathable mesh shoe
Keep in mind: While staying hydrated during a long, hot round is very important, what most people forget is that proper hydration actually starts the day before your sun exposure, so make sure to drink up in the days leading up to your round. My insulated cup is my new favorite must-have hot weather accessory. I fill it with ice water every chance I get, and the cup keeps the contents perfectly unmelted for the duration of the round.
While it seems counter-intuitive, wearing sleeves can actually keep you cooler in the heat. Many companies now actually sell pairs of sleeves that are specially made for use in hot weather.
It can be tempting to guzzle beers, ice coffee and any other cold beverage you can find, but experts recommend avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the heat. You're better off sticking with water and sports drinks—at least until your round is complete.
One final tip: One way I like to beat the heat is by bringing my own spray bottle in the cart. A few refreshing ice-cold spritzes before each shot can really help you focus. A cool towel draped around your neck can work well too.
So there you have it. You're officially a seasoned golfer for 12 months out of the year.