Why this pro uses a clock visual to help him judge the wind

Mackenzie Hughes is teeing it up at The Northern Trust this week.

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. — By now you’ve probably heard about the clock system for wedge shots. If you haven’t, it’s pretty simple: envision that you’re standing in the middle of a clock, and your arms are the handles. You can swing your arms longer (to, say, 11 o’clock) or shorter (8 o’clock, for instance) depending on the shot. By using a clock as a mental image, it’s an easier and more specific way of dialing-in the swing you need.

And it turns out, you can also use a clock visual for gauging the wind. That’s according to PGA Tour player Mackenzie Hughes, who uses a clock visual with his caddie to discuss the wind on every shot.

“Straight ahead of me is 12 o’clock. If the wind is from 9 o’clock, it means it’s blowing dead left-to-right,” he says. “It’s just become a quick way for me to reference what the wind is doing.

And it makes sense, too.

How it works

Think about how you discuss the wind. We generally think of the wind in four ways: Blowing left-to-right, right-to-left, into or down. There are variations, of course, but it’s all pretty general. By using a clock, Hughes says he can get more exact.

“It makes a big difference,” he says. “If the wind is blowing 2 o’clock [meaning slightly into] that’s a completely different shot than if it was 3:30.”

The real beauty, Hughes went on to say, is that it’s pretty simple to adopt. So the next time you’re unsure about the wind, face toward your target and toss some grass into the air. The direction it blows from is the time on the clock.

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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 the brand’s game improvement content 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. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.