Don't let wind blow up your golf game

KEVIN HAIME

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

The British Open serves as a great reminder that there's more to golf than just hitting full shots.

To play golf well, you have to control your ball flight and be ready for all conditions.

No matter where in the world you play, you'll have to deal with wind and when it's windy you just can't afford to hit your ball too high.

When I'm paired with amateurs in pro-ams, I see way too many players making mistakes with their setups, swings and club selection in the wind.

HERE ARE A FEW KEYS TO SUCCESS IN THE WIND:

SWING IN A VACUUM: The biggest mistake golfers make in the wind is they speed up their swings or make bigger swings to try to hit the ball harder. When you're hitting your ball into the wind, it's critical that you make the same swing with the same rhythm and tempo that you make without wind. Golfers who overswing or swing extra hard to fight a headwind are almost guaranteed of mishitting shots. Nothing will mess you up more than swinging too hard. It will lead to extra motion and less ballstriking consistency. Even if you happen to hit a solid shot, the headwind will just push your ball up higher so your ball usually won't even travel far enough even if you hit a solid shot. Without question, the biggest key to better wind play is to control your rhythm and swing like there's no wind at all.

ADJUST YOUR SETUP: Obviously, one of the keys to playing in the wind is to hit your ball lower. If you can keep your ball under the tree tops, the wind is a lot more manageable. The easiest and best way to flight the ball lower is to make a small adjustment to your starting position. With your irons, place a little more weight on your front foot and move the ball back about two inches in your stance. Be careful not to put more than 60% of weight on your front foot and make sure you don't move the ball too far back in your stance. A lot of amateurs I play with overdo this setup change and have trouble getting the ball airborne. With your driver, your adjustment has to be a little different. Just move the ball back an inch from its normal position and tee the ball half as high as normal. Never place more than 50% of your weight on your front leg with a driver. That mistake will lead to a slice, not a lower shot.

TAKE AN EXTRA CLUB: Another great adjustment you can make in the wind is to always hit one more club than you think you need. In other words, if you are hitting into a two-club wind (you need a 6-iron instead of an 8-iron) then you should actually hit a 5-iron. With the extra club in your hands, you can shorten or ease up on your swing rhythm a touch. In either case, you'll hit more consistent shots that way and flight the ball a little lower than normal. A shorter or softer swing with an extra club will always lead to a lower flight path. Actually, I'm a big fan of hitting a little extra club in many approach shot scenarios. Lots of average players would hit more greens if they tended to hit more club a little more often.

PUTTING IN THE WIND: Wind can affect your putting. In a strong wind, players will tend to move more during their putting stroke. Next time you're putting in a really strong wind, try widening your stance and flex your knees a little extra. This small adjustment will help your stability and make you feel more solid during your stroke. Also, don't forget that strong winds will affect your ball's roll. A strong wind can affect the speed and break of your putt -- especially on faster greens. Into the wind, make sure to finish your stroke and give the ball a little extra energy. Downwind, make sure to keep your stroke rhythmic and control your stroke pace.


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