Wind is often the most difficult weather variable to contend with when playing golf. Sure, rain can be uncomfortable and cause slippage issues, and cold weather can impair touch, feel and distance… but wind can wreak havoc. Even a mild breeze can turn a good shot into a bad shot and a bad shot into a round killer.
When a golf ball flies too high and/or with too much spin in the wind, its flight becomes wildly unpredictable. Since golf is all about control and consistency, it’s no wonder why playing in windy conditions blows up scorecards, as we saw recently at the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
To help battle the unpredictability that wind causes, it’s best to flight the ball lower and with less spin to pierce the wind. A lower-flying, lower-spinning shot is less affected by wind, and therefore will reduce negative outcomes.
Of course, there are many ways to flight the ball lower using technique and setup, but Viktor Hovland makes a simple equipment fix to get the job done.
Ahead of the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where the wind was whipping, Hovland made two easy adjustments. He had all of his clubs (aside from the putter, obviously) shortened by a quarter-of-an-inch, and the lofts strengthened by 0.5 degrees.
A shorter club – whether the shaft is actually cut shorter, or the golfer chokes down – will most likely reduce backspin, lower flight, and cause the ball to fly shorter due to the reduced speed. Strengthening loft, on the other hand, will increase ball speed in most cases, and obviously help the ball fly a touch lower.
That means the distance that is lost by shortening the clubs is offset by the reduction in loft. The result is a ball that has a lower, piercing ball flight that should fly close to the same distance as it did before. At least, that’s what Hovland saw with his easy adjustments.
While not all golfers have easy access to a club builder, as Hovland does on the Ping Tour truck, you can still take advantage of the science next time you play in the wind. Choke up on your clubs to reduce backspin and lower your ball flight, and work to reduce loft through impact for a piercing, stronger ball flight that’s less affected by wind.