If the Wind is Howling at The Open

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

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Growing up in Michigan, we had a saying, “If you don’t like the weather – wait a minute and it will change”.  Well that is what we saw at the British Open. The day would start out calm and then the winds would come up and dissipate. Watching the greatest players in the world deal with the winds throughout the week are more difficult to deal with than a steady gale. The following is what I learned last month and this can certainly help you if you ever experience these conditions:

• Prior to arriving at the golf course, it might be a good idea to get a weather report about the wind conditions of the day. Now that you have this valuable information, the first thing to remember is do not get intimidated by the high winds. This will cause you anxiety and tension, which will result in substandard golf shots. The greatest visualization is to imagine that there is no wind and your only concern is your target. Focus on where you want the ball to go, not how it is going to get there.

• As always, I cannot express enough the importance of warming up at the practice tee prior to your starting time. This will give you an opportunity to experiment with your club selection. Are you hitting down wind? Are you hitting into the wind? Is it a cross wind? How much wind is there? Use your favorite club to experiment. For example, if your favorite club is a 6 iron and you hit it 165 - 175 yards, take a normal golf swing with that club and observe how far the shot travels. If you are hitting into a 30 mph wind you may only hit the ball 130 yards swinging the club as if there was no wind. If you are hitting downwind the ball may travel 190 – 200 yards with the same effortless swing.

• Next you will want to watch the direction the golf ball is traveling. Aim at your target as if there was not wind. Hit your golf shot at the target and see where the ball ends up. If the wind is blowing from left to right and you hit a good shot at your target, the ball will more than likely end up left of your target by as much as 10 – 15 yards in that 60 mph wind. This is not a good thing.

• Choose the proper club. A good rule of thumb is for every ten mph of wind you should take one more or one less club. Thus, if the wind is blowing 30 mph it may be necessary to adjust as much as three clubs different. i.e.; a 17 degree fairway wood that normally goes 220-230 yards will be used for a shot into the wind from 190-200 yards. Conversely, hitting downwind you will want to adjust to a shorter club in your bag.

• The final piece to bring all of this together deals with the setup. Widen your stance just enough to give you a better base to stabilize your body through the swing. This is crucial as you are swinging and trying to keep your balance at the same time. I can assure you that in a 60 mph gust, you will be knocked off balance. Build a solid foundation and you will be able to stand your ground.

Practice this and have fun playing in a gale force wind. Each golfer is a little different, therefore, find the yardages that work for you and be confident in your shot selection in the wind…always.

If you need assistance with this tip or any other golf tip, visit one of the Southwest Section PGA professionals near you.

Be sure to tune in to the Bunker to Bunker Golf Show every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Arizona Sports 620 or on the internet at www.arizonasports.com; click on Sports, click on listen now for more tips and updates on all of the week’s golfing news in the Valley and around the world. Tune into to hear Greg and co-hosts Jim Hill, and or Marty Monaghan for a comprehensive look at the golf world for the week. 

Greg Ellis is also the General Manager at the Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia, in Peoria. Visit him and play the only 5-Star rated golf course by Golf Digest – Best Places. Call Greg at 623.328.5100 for a starting time.