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Clubbing Correctly With Wind
How to Select a Club and Shot When Dealing With Wind

Wind can be a tremendous challenge for a lot of players. In fact, I have known several golfers who flat out won't tee it up on a windy day. Curtis

Learn how to select a club and a shot into the wind.  Playing the Wind
Strange was known to withdraw from tournaments due to excessive wind sighting that it would throw off the well honed timing of his swing. It is true in fact that it could. Winds strong enough to knock you out of balance would affect the club and throw it off plane. Possibly the biggest issue is people getting quick or jumping at the ball as they feel themselves being blown off balance. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so if the wind blows you forward in your downswing, you will naturally swing across and back to counter balance and when that happens you develop a nice over the top move.

On the flip side if you know how to play the wind properly it can be a huge advantage. A lot of the field will mentally give up or quit before they even tee off when the weather is bad be it wind or rain. I used to like the fact at the start of the day that half the field probably folded when the weather was bad, and I felt if I stayed mentally tough I would have a huge advantage. Think of it as the wind helping your ball go where you want it to go if you play it correctly. Just like the break in the green helps to feed your ball down towards the hole, why not let wind help feed your ball towards your target? O.K., well sometimes it's right in your face. I get it, but if you know how to select the right club and knock it under the wind it's like it's not even there.

Perhaps the biggest question on most golfer's minds is: How do you know what club to select when you're dealing with a substantial wind? A lot of the answer lies in experience, good judgement and the ability to make a solid, calculated decision. After all, that's what a good caddy is for right? Well, let's come back down to earth here and figure out how to do it on our own. As a general rule and I say general for a reason, for every 10 mph you would go up one club. So if it's normally a 7 iron for you pick a 6 iron if there is a 10 mph wind in your face and a 5 iron if there is a 20 mph wind in your face and so on.

There are 4 challenges with the wind as it blows in 4 directions; down wind, into the wind, right to left and left to right. Of course you can have a combination of say down and right or left and into the wind and so on, but for the purpose of this article we need to cover the 4 main possibilities.

  • Down wind may be seen as the easiest by most as you simply ride the wind and let it help your ball to the hole. Of course the obvious suggestion is to club down because you won't need as much distance as you would on a windless day. The other consideration though is that the ball is going to land hot. It's going to be very difficult to control and stop. The key is to land it short of your target the perfect amount so it will roll the rest of the way. Just like deciding which club to use, deciding where to land it is based on experience and good judgement. Playing the ball forward in your stance and making sure to keep your head and sternum behind the ball will help loft the ball and let it ride the wind.
  • Into the wind is not much fun, but I prefer it to dealing with side winds. The key here is to go up in club, but knock the ball down. A true knock down is performed by clubbing up, but then swinging easier to send the ball out flat and under the wind. Remember speed kicks the ball up so "swing easy when it's breezy." Setting the ball back in your stance and setting your weight and sternum left (or target side) will help keep the ball from ballooning up into the air.
  • Side winds are perhaps the most challenging especially if they are super strong. Whether left to right or right to left, they pose an even bigger challenge for those that have a natural curve on the ball. An example would be if someone has a natural fade and the wind is moving from right to left. Then they are essentially hitting into the wind and it will kill the ball. If they then get a left to right wind the extra curve that they put on their ball with the fade will exacerbate things and make the ball ride the wind even harder.

To test the wind perform 3 steps:

  • Throw grass up into the air. This is a good test of the wind from right where you stand so it will tell you what's going on around your ball.
  • Read the flag. This is a great test of what's going on by the green, which may be very different from where you are standing, especially if you or the green is surrounded by trees. The same holds true if the green is on a different elevation than your ball.
  • Read the tree tops. If in doubt reading the tops of the trees is a good idea. This can tell you what the wind is doing where you stand, between you and the flag and up by the green.

The Situation:

You aren't sure how to pick the right club when playing in wind.

The Solution:

For every extra 10 mph change clubs. If it is into your face go up in club and if it's downwind go down a club. Make sure to perform 3 tests to help decipher what the wind is doing. 1) Throw grass into the air. 2) Read the flag. 3) Read the tree tops. Play the ball forward in your stance for down wind and be sure to stay behind the ball as you strike it. For shots into the wind try to play the ball back and stay ahead of the ball a bit with your sternum. After you have selected your club, selected your ball position and decided which way the wind is blowing pick a good aiming line and target. For down wind the target may be a bit short of your intended target to allow for the extra roll. For side winds your target will be a little more into the wind so be prepared for the extra loss in distance along with the sideways movement of the ball.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

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