Playing Golf In The Wind: Comprehensive Overview and Tips

One of the greatest variables in the game of golf is the wind on any given day.  The wind can totally change the makeup of the course and increase the difficulty greatly on that specific day. 

In Major Championships alone, we have witnessed what the wind can do to the golfers and the extreme conditions that are created the more the wind continues to blow at a higher rate. 

Courses like Pebble Beach, Augusta National and St. Andrews are there courses that come to mind where when the wind blows, the difficulty of the course increases significantly.

When the rest of us golfers, all enjoying the game are now faced with winds somewhere between 20-40 miles per hour, we experience even more difficulties because we may not be as well prepared or trained for the conditions that mother nature throws at us. 

Golf is difficult enough in regulation conditions. The wind makes it extra difficult!

When Reality Hits

We have all stood on the tee box and just felt overwhelmed by the wind in our face. How am I going to even hit the ball 200 yards on this tee shot might be the thought that goes through many golfers mind.

My hope is to provide some factors for consideration and the best tips available to help you play your best golf in the wind. To help eliminate the fear of playing golf in heavy wind conditions.

I currently live in the midwest portion of the United States and during the early spring and late fall, we can face 30-40 miles per hour in winds on soft courses. 

This greatly reduces driver distance and many other difficulties. Recently, earlier this week I played golf in wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour. Drives that normally might fly 250 yards were only flying 210-220 yards.  The course becomes difficult and even more difficult for those that aren’t prepared and do not have a game play.

Below, we will take you through the following tips to help with playing golf in the wind.

Our hope is to provide the best advice we have received to date to help us all navigate and manage the wind that much better:

Top 5 Tips for Playing in the Wind:

  • Beezy Easy
  • Ride the Wind or Fight the Wind
  • Flight the Ball
  • Aim Points
  • Mindset

The combination of the cold weather in the early and last parts of the season combined with wind, makes scoring difficult, but I am confident these tips will help you play better and be more consistent.

Tip #1 – Breezy Easy

I recall playing high school golf in Ohio and on October 1st we always had our sectional golf tournament.  It could have been 70 degrees for the previous 10 days, but you could count on the temperature dropping significantly and the wind blowing. 

Of course the conditions were very soft as well, which made a 6400 yard course seem like a 6800 year course. The tip we always heard was “breezy easy.”

This means when you are playing in the wind and especially with shots into a head wind, the importance of making a smooth, easy swing was the key to the ball flying through the wind as best as possibly.  After understanding more about spin rates, the reason you want to swing easier is to reduce the spin.

A driver swung at 100 miles per hour with a spin rate in the 4000s is going to struggle greatly to even go over 200 yards with a head wind.  However, take that same 100 miles per hour swing and reduce the spin rate to 1800-2000 and you will still get some decent distance. We also know that a head win can increase the side spin and makes a hook or slice that much more likely.

Be prepared mentally for the wind. See tip #5.

Quick Tips – Playing a Tee Shot into the wind:

  • Tee it lower
  • Choke down a touch
  • Play it back a touch
  • Swing easy

Quick Tips – Playing a Tee Shot with the wind:

  • Tee it higher
  • Let it go 
  • Get the ball up into the wind

Here is an awesome video that proves this statement above by using a Trackman:

Tip #2 – Ride the Wind or Fight the Wind

One of the options we have when playing into a cross wind is whether to ride the wind or to fight the wind.  There are golfers that perfefer to hit a draw shot into a left to right wind, ultimately resulting in somewhat of a straight shot. 

They will then hit a fade shot into a right to left wind for another straight shot. While there are golfers that enjoy throwing it out into the wind and having it push back towards the middle.

My preference is to try to hit a straight shot and ride the wind.  I don’t personally like to battle the wind as it loses distance and can knock the ball down.  I would prefer to keep the ball if need be and control the shot by keeping it low and utilizing my hands.

Quick Tips:

  • We prefer to ride the wind by hitting a straight shot and aiming slight left or right depending on the wind.
  • If it is an extreme wind, consider hitting a draw spin into a fade wind.
  • Don’t forget to swing breezy easy even though you aren’t hitting into the wind.

More tips on playing in the wind:

Tip #3 – Flight the Ball

The only wind that we can truly let it fly with the driver is when there is a tailwind.  Even with our iron shots, we have to be careful not to fly the green and end up in a bad spot.  I have actually found the wind to sometimes look like it pushes a shot down when the wind is blowing hard and you don’t quite launch it high enough.  

The reality is that we need to score with our irons and be able to control those shots.  The wind is a major game changer and being able to flight the ball lower will help you stick some shots and make some birdie putts.  Once again, we need to swing smooth and try not to create too much spin by really going at the ball.

Quick Tips:

  • Play the ball about one ball width back in your stance.
  • Take extra club and choke down a bit.
  • Swing easy, but make sure you complete your swing.
  • Keep the right mindset during the round.  Do not let your ego get you upset that you are maybe hitting that 6 iron from 155 instead of your 8 iron.

Here are some excellent tips on flighting the ball:

Tip #4 – Aim points

Playing in the wind is a great opportunity to play towards targets and turn your focus externally to where you are trying to hit the ball.  The game can actually be a lot of fun if you embrace the challenge and look forward to seeing how you can work the ball in the wind and handle the conditions.  

Make sure you are controlling your aim points and clearly identifying where you want the ball to start and end up in your pre shot routine.  Playing in no wind, can allow us to get lazy and just stand up and hit at the normal location on that specific hole. 

Quick Tips:

  • Put your focus externally on the starting point and end point of the shots.
  • Keep that target in mind as you are swinging breezy easy.

Not specifically wind connected, but a great overview on focusing on the target in the golf swing by one of our top rated online golf instructors, Shawn Clement:

Tip #5 – Mindset

A quick lesson, you can’t control the outcome of a shot or the weather, you can only control how you respond to the events and situations that happen during a round of golf.   When you get to a round of golf and you arrive at the course and feel a strong wind, you have two options.

  • Embrace and make the most of the round of golf.
  • Get upset and complain all day.

It seems simple now, but we have all been there where we will play angry and frustrated over something we can’t control…the weather!  Instead, embrace the challenge, playing with gratitude that you get to be playing golf that day and go shoot a great score.

Stop complaining about the weather and know that everyone else is playing in similar conditions.  This is a great challenge to your ball striking ability, your short game, and your mental toughness. Do you have what it takes to be a special golfer?

Look for opportunities to get out and play in tough wind so that when you have an important round where you want to shoot a good score and it is windy, you are prepared and can embrace the elements!

BONUS: Short Game (The True Secret to Playing Great Golf in the Wind)

Recently, I played a round of golf in winds that were blowing 30 miles per hour and gusting up to 40 miles per hour.  The course was soft and not rolling, which made it play like 6700-6800 yards. The challenge was set. Oh by the way, the temperature was 40 degrees.  I found myself 1 under through 7 holes and ended the round by shooting a 2 over 73.  

What were the tips that helped? 

All 5 tips above helped, but most important I was able to get up and down to save par 5 out of 8 times.  That’s right, I only hit 10 greens in regulation in this difficult weather and only converted one birdie putt.  The round actually could have been much better as I had chances for birdies inside of 20 feet all day long. Oh well, I had to keep my mind right and play with a grateful heart!

The short game helped me keep my mind right as I got up and down for par on 2 of the first 5 holes and had a great sand save on number 9 for par…which was playing 215 uphill into the wind.  The short game helped with all of my decisions and my mindset.

When your short game is on, it provides an extra level of confidence that things are going to be ok even if you miss the green. When your short game is off and you are playing in those conditions, it becomes that much more pressure to hit the green and aim for some pins.

The reality about short games is that your chipping and pitching can be good just about any day of the week.  If you really want to play well in the wind, the key is your short game.

You aren’t going to hit as many greens in regulation and the ability to get up and down to save part at least 50% of the time is a game changer and a round saver.  We all want that perfect looking swing, but isn’t it frustrating playing against the opponent that seems to get up and down for par from all over the place? Well you can become that golfer!

Here are some short game practice games you can play to improve and get better today.

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

Recent Posts