Of all the adverse conditions one can find on the golf course, playing in the wind offers the most unique challenge for the player. This is not only due to the fact that it affects the flight of the ball. No, wind also affects the way your brain works. Kind of like being upside-down and submerged in water, one can become easily confused. Unlike something that requires quick action, however, you have a bit of time to gather yourself and right the ship. Here are my thoughts on how to play golf in the wind.
Here’s the key. First, realization that nobody scores better, or has an easy time of it on any level playing in these conditions calms your brain’s initial apprehensions. The nervous system is your body’s decision and communication center. Like planning a battle, it’s time for common sense to take over. Rely on the basic principles of your golf instruction. Think strategy. Draw a map and then follow it. Your Frontal Lobe is associated with reasoning, planning and problem solving. If you need to, use the butt of your hand or a sand wedge to give yourself a few whacks on the forehead. Second, coordination of movement, posture, and balance will be necessary in order to properly effect your strategy. Even your breathing and heart rate can be useful tools on difficult days such as this. Third, if at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up! Anything stronger than a breeze affects motor control and sensory analysis. Hang in there, stick with the plan.
PLAYING GOLF IN THE WIND
In practice, some of the changes you’ll have to make when playing golf in the wind are stance, grip pressure, ball position and length of swing. A golfer’s equilibrium is off while he’s being blown off his feet so it makes sense for him to widen his stance just a little. A resultant compensation is to grip the club more toward the shaft because the club will be shorter. The grip itself should be firmer than usual-remember, control, not distance, is your objective today. The last thing you want is to hit high, ballooning golf shots. On windy days, these balls can wind up almost anywhere. Your main concern is your ball staying on the property so keep it low by moving the ball back in your stance and swinging easy. Think voluntary vs. involuntary motor function. Do you ordinarily have a long backswing? A long follow through? Best to shorten up both in the wind. Keep doing these things throughout the day. Don’t zone out after a triple-bogey. Convert short term memory to more permanent memory. It is how to play golf in the wind. Fear should never be an element in this equation. You already have the added confidence of knowing your OVER THE TOP GOLF® swing is reliable.
Think you’ll be hitting many greens in regulation today? What about this scenario…you played 18 holes, hit no greens in regulation but shot a respectable round of golf and won most of the skins. If you try this on a calm day you’ll likely get slaughtered but in the wind it’s the perfect RX. Make your brain realize that. As man evolved he became more intelligent and developed reason. So why does all of that fly out the door in a gust of wind? A perception of stimuli and corresponding reactions are necessities. Regardless of how many knots of wind are in your face, you can get your ball close to the pin on Par 3s in two strokes most of the time (but not if you are trying to get there in one.) From there you are par-bogey but usually never higher than that. Sensory nerves gather information from the environment and send the message to the brain. You feel the wind against your skin, you hear it howling, you see leaves blowing by. The brain then makes sense of that message and responds.
Thinking takes time. That’s the one thing you don’t have during the second or two it takes to swing a club. Every movement of every muscle should be ingrained by now. That’s part of what makes the OVER THE TOP GOLF® swing so great. You don’t need to think. You are using your own swing plus five set-up changes to produce that low, straight ball flight. In terms of playing in the wind, the pressure’s off to a great extent. The measurement of human reaction time (the time elapsing between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a response to that stimulus) shows that it varies with different people. Reaction times can also vary with any of a number of characteristics such as time of day, subject age and subject sex in addition to the influence of outside agencies. Once you become comfortable with your results, your swings will become more uniform. You will have found your groove.
Remember well what’s been said by the Scots. “If there’s nae wind, it’s nae golf.”
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