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No pain in the rain: These 5 tricks can help you play better (and be more comfortable) in the elements

October 3, 2019

Living in the Pacific Northwest means accepting that I’m going to endure the occasional round of golf in the wet stuff. It’s something my fellow Northwesterners and I accept as par for the course, especially this time of year as many of us try to cram in as many holes as possible before it gets even colder and rainier in the winter months.

Having played in hundreds of rounds in the rain (seriously, it’s easily more than 100), I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that have actually made it somewhat enjoyable. Here are my tips.

Tip 1: Don’t fight the elements. Embrace them.

It’s raining. So stop trying to keep everything dry. The harder you try to keep yourself and your gear moisture-free, the more stress you’re going to add to your round and the less focused you’ll be on hitting shots and rolling putts. The only exception is keeping your towel dry. You should at least try and do that. (See the fifth tip for more.)

Tip 2:  It’s more important to keep your hands warm than dry.

I don’t think rain gloves get as much credit as they deserve. Some actually grip my clubs better when it’s raining than my Cabretta gloves when it’s dry. The only problem is rain gloves have to be wet to work properly, which is a quick way to get really frigid and stiff hands. It’s imperative you keep your rain gloves on and your hands in your pockets when you are between shots so they stay as warm as possible. Your pockets will get wet, but so what? Having icy fingers is way worse.

Tip 3: Pick the right-sized rain jacket.

I’ve committed many-a faux pas when it comes to rain gear — the first is wearing a rain jacket that is too big. The thinking was that a bigger-sized jacket was less likely to restrict my swing, but the consequence of wearing what looked like a circus tent was actually more fabric and more weight which made it harder to swing properly. Today’s rain jackets are made to fit snugly and are designed to stretch, so if anything I’d recommend you go tighter than looser. Really, the stuff available today is leaps and bounds better than what we all wore as little as 10-15 years ago. They’re a lot lighter, too. If you haven’t upgraded in a while, now’s the time.

Tip 4: Go pantless.

As long as it’s not too cold out, I usually show up to play golf in the rain wearing shorts. I then put my rainpants over them, which is a helluva lot more comfortable than wearing rain pants over slacks or worse, a pair of chinos or jeans. It’s also way less hassle. I never feel the need to take my rain pants off when it stops raining; wearing shorts means I stay cool even when the sun comes out. Suppose you could just go straight up boxers or briefs under your rain pants, but that’s your prerogative (you also lose some coveted dry pockets if you do that).

Tip 5: Carry an umbrella. But not for the reason you might think.

Carrying an umbrella can be a real nuisance. Unless it’s pouring buckets, you’re probably not going to use it very much, especially if you’ve followed tips 3 and 4 and have yourself a waterproof cap to go with your getup. If you insist on keeping an umbrella out and using it while you play, make use of the waterproof dome and hang your towel from underneath it in an attempt to keep your towel both clean and dry. If it gets soaked anyway, grab a dry towel at the turn.