How to play golf in cold weather, according to low handicaps

Playing golf in cold weather isn’t always easy, but there are certain things you can do to make life easier. Enter GOLF’s resident low-handicaps, who are here to offer some helpful advice, golfer-to-golfer.

1. Loosen up inside

Dylan Dethier (+3.3 handicap): Let’s start with some pre-round basics: Loosen up inside, where it’s warm, before you start. It’s going to be really tough to stretch out in the cold — and you won’t really want to!

Also, walk, don’t ride. There’s nowhere colder than an open-air golf cart on a windy winter day. Finally, ditch your pride. Cold-weather golf is all about scoring — if that means taking two extra clubs and keeping your swing simple and elemental, that’s just fine.

2. Start slow

Luke Kerr-Dineen (2.5 handicap): Lots of golfers think cold weather will cause the ball to fly shorter, and while that’s true, the biggest reason why you lose distance in cold weather is because of the weather’s effect on your body. AKA, when it’s cold, you won’t be able to turn as far, or swing as hard, which means your swing speed will drop and you’ll hit the ball shorter accordingly.

This is especially true early in the round, when you’re not warmed up from all the walking and swinging. So my advice? Accept it. Understand that you won’t have your usual speed, so focus on hitting the ball on the sweet spot rather than risking injury forcing speed you don’t have. Take an extra club or two and aim for the fat spots of the greens. Work your way into a groove based on playing what you have, not on what you don’t.

3. Don’t over-layer

Josh Sens (2.5 handicap): For me, it’s keeping my hands warm. When you have a swing with as many moving parts as mine, you need to keep those small-twitch muscles firing. Also: not over-layering. I’d rather be a little chilly than bundled up like the Michelin Man. Wear a warm, long-sleeve shirt made of lightweight, flexible fabric, and then maybe a thin vest over it if need be.

4. Keep your hands warm

Zephyr Melton (6.5 handicap): As a native Texan, I might not be the best person to be giving out advice on this subject, but I have played a handful of cold-weather rounds in my life. The key for me has always been keeping my hands warm. You get all of your feel from your hands, and if they get too exposed to the cold, you’ll have difficulty on those delicate touch shots. Keep a couple packages of handwarmers in your bag, and invest in a good pair of mittens.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.