Tips for Playing Golf on a Rainy Day

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Depending on where you live, and how passionate about the game you are, a rainy day on the golf course can be viewed as either a bummer, an opportunity to play in tough conditions, or not phase you at all. No matter how you feel about the rain, it’s important to make adjustments to the conditions, not just on the course, but well before you leave the house. That’s why we’ve written this article on tips for playing golf on a rainy day.

Tip #1

The first most important step before heading to the golf course is to check the forecast and take a look outside. When you’re checking the weather, not only should you see what the weather is doing now, but also if any other big storm clouds are headed your direction in the near future.

It also won’t hurt to find out how much rain the area received overnight. This may save you the trouble of getting to the course, only to find out it’s not in a condition that is playable. If the forecast and overnight rain hasn’t made things too waterlogged on the golf course, you should be good to go. 

Tip #2

When packing your golf bag for the day, you’ll need some extra gear to ensure the most important aspect of playing in wet, rainy weather: keeping yourself, and your clubs, as dry as possible.

If you plan on using a cart, make sure to bring an extra towel or two, one of which should be large enough to cover the seat, unless you have a rain cover for your cart. No one wants to sit on a soaked cart seat. 

Also, you’ll want an extra dry towel in case water gets on the grips of your clubs, which will make holding onto the club throughout your swing easier.

Tip #3

An extra glove or two, a bucket hat, which will keep the water off your ears (which can be annoying), and a rain suit will also be helpful. The last thing you’ll want to ensure is in your bag, or at least in the trunk of your car, is a golf umbrella. It should be at least 150 cm, or about 60 inches, in diameter. If you’re walking, this will ensure that your clubs, your bag, and yourself can stand underneath it and stay dry.

Tip #4

Once you’ve arrived at the golf course, your warm up should be the same, as long as nothing has been closed (i.e. the range or putting green). However, once you get to the golf course, you’ll want to adjust some things, both in your strategy and your shot selection.

Before we get to the adjustments and strategy, let’s ensure that your equipment is set up properly, especially if it’s going to rain for most or all of your round.

If you’re walking, you’ll want to prep your umbrella with all your extras (towel, glove, etc.), so that they stay underneath at all times. Using the stretcher of the umbrella, near the center where the space is greatest, you can attach your glove and drape your towel over inside.

This is a good reason to ensure that your umbrella is sturdy enough to handle the extra weight. If you’re in a cart, you’ll want to stash extra dry towels in the cubby holes, along with your gloves in plastic zip-top bags, to keep them dry.

Tip #5

The key to playing golf in the rain is to keep the grips dry as much as possible. This starts with giving it a quick rub with a very dry towel before you step out of the cart or umbrella. It’ll help to keep your gloved hand on it at all times. After each shot, give the grip another quick wipe before placing it back in the bag. You want to limit the amount of water that can get to the other grips in your bag.

Aside from the grips, you’ll want to make other adjustments to compensate for wet fairways, wet rough, wet sand, and from around/on the greens.

From the Fairway:

When the fairways are soggy and wet, clean contact is essential. The penalty of a fat shot is compounded when water, grass, and soil meet the clubface before the ball. Here are a few adjustments you can make to ensure you catch the golf ball first:

  • First, you’ll want to take more club, so that you can swing smoother and not sacrifice much distance. The longer club will also help shallow out your angle of attack, which will limit your chances of hitting behind it.
  • Setting your hands slightly more forward will help keep the leading edge to catch grass first.
  • Move the ball about one ball-length back in your stance.
  • Make a short, smooth, ¾ swing, and accelerate through the shot.

The hands ahead and ball back in the stance may promote a steeper angle, which may cause gouged divots, but as long as the ball is contacted first that’s okay.

Note: make sure you fill/replace your divots!

From the Rough:

The same adjustments from the fairway can be made from the rough, but a few other factors have to be taken into account when playing from wet rough:

  • Taking the extra club and swinging smoother may not be an option, depending on the thickness of the rough and the distance of your approach shot. As a general rule, anything over an inch of rough, and you’ll want to consider taking a wedge and getting it back into play. Wet conditions from the rough are no picnic, so it’s important to limit the damage.
  • While being steep in the fairway isn’t optimal under normal circumstances, being steep from the rough is. The less water and grass that comes between your club and the ball, the more control you’ll have of the golf ball. Therefore, having the hands ahead and the ball back will help get you out of the rough more consistently.
  • With water and grass coming in between the clubface and ball, the ball is going to have little spin coming from the rough, so be sure to plan accordingly by planning for the ball to roll more once it hits the ground.

From the Sand:

The conditions created when rain meets sand can vary widely depending on how the course drains, the setup of the bunkers, and how much the sand moves when rain falls on it. In general, here are a few basic points to keep in mind:

  • Rain tends to compact sand in the bunkers, which means there’s less need to use the bounce, as the club will not dig into firm sand.
  • The caveat to the above is when the bunker get so waterlogged it’s almost muddy or soupy. In this instance, you’ll want to throw on a rain suit and play it like an explosion shot. The rain suit will keep your clothes from getting muddy.
  • From fairway bunkers, shots in firm sand become slightly easier, but you’ll still want to use the principles from a wet fairway.
  • No matter what kind of condition the sand is in, you’ll want to play it like any other bunker shot. For an in-depth look at how to play a shot from the sand, check out this article here.

From Around/On the Greens:

When playing a shot from around the greens, the conditions certainly play a role in how the ball will react. For one, the ball is less likely to spin, even from the fringe or fairway cut, since the moisture on the ball, and on the face, limits the amount of friction created. Also, with the softer conditions, the ball will tend to roll less.

Another aspect to consider is during putting; the ball will tend to skid more at impact, as well as tread water as it rolls toward the hole. Rain falling on the green, as well as the ball, will make judging the distance even tougher.

When you first get to the course, you’ll want to spend extra time on the putting green, trying to get a feel for how the ball is rolling.

Other Things to Consider:

  • Moisture in the air will cause the ball to fly less, so adjust your club selection accordingly.
  • Any water that comes between the clubface and ball will limit the spin you can create. While this may cause the ball to roll a little more than normal, the softer conditions may offset this.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes our only day to play in a given week turns out to be less than optimal. However, with some basic adjustments, and the right preparation, playing golf in the rain won’t be a gloomy day after all. Fairways and greens to you!

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Ryan S

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