4 strategies for playing in brutal wind, according to LPGA pros
Golf is hard enough as it is, but add in a little wind and things get a whole lot more difficult. Any spin on the ball is exacerbated, your distance control is a crap shoot and even putting gets more tricky. When the forecast calls for wind, you can expect scores to balloon as a result.
Playing in the wind isn’t just difficult for amateurs, either. Even the pros have a tough time navigating the course when conditions are breezy. Exhibit A: The Open Championship. No tournament has scores that are more weather dependent than The Open, and when the winds are up, so are the scores.
This week’s Volunteers of America Classic on the LPGA Tour isn’t quite being played in Open Championship conditions, but being in Texas, the players are facing plenty of wind. On Thursday, the breeze was sustained at around 15 mph, and gusts got even higher. The result was a difficult day of scoring that forced players to adjust their approaches to be successful.
Below are four strategies used to combat the brutal wind.
1. Accept your mistakes
If it’s super windy, you’re likely going to make a few bogeys — so don’t beat yourself up when they happen. If a hole is playing long and into the wind, don’t get down on yourself for squandering par. Bogey can be a good score in the wind.
“Sometimes when wind is really, really strong, like the certain hole could be playing as a really difficult hole, and I just got to accept, okay, it’ll be really nice to par,” says So Yeon Ryu. “But even though making bogey is still okay because so windy out there. So I think I was just bit more forgiveness to myself.”
2. Commit to one ball flight
Some players will try to hold their shots into the wind on every hole, but this requires supreme control of your ball. Instead, commit to one ball flight and play it all day — even if it means riding a crosswind on certain holes. It might require aiming out over trouble in certain places, but you have to trust that the your shot shape plus the wind will guide it back to safety.
“I decided to commit to one ball flight, just take the different lines,” says Madelene Sagstrom. “Just not try and fight it go up and play with the wind and not trying to fight the wind. That’s what we said, just had to make some — okay let’s go really far right here or just stuff like that. It was just that commitment.”
3. Manage your expectations
A windy day is likely not going to result in firing your personal best, so don’t go out there expecting that sort of round. Accept that the course is playing difficult, and manage your expectations.
“I think you have to change your expectations more than anything,” Stacy Lewis says. “Just knowing that — you just know it’s playing hard and it’s playing hard for everybody, so you just got to keep grinding out these five- and six-footers.”
4. Be ultra specific
The wind might make it difficult to get the ball to go where you want it to, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be specific in your targets. The wind makes your margin for error smaller, so you should make your targets smaller, too.
“[You] have to be specific with like the start lines and the finish lines just because the wind moves the ball so much,” says Cheyenne Knight. “So just kind of had to think a little bit more about club selection.”