When it’s cold and wet, not only does the ball not travel as far, but we’re also frequently required to deal with some pretty atrocious lies. So, come the winter, we could all do with having a few extra shots in our armoury.
These are the top five winter golf shots you need to master…
1. Adding 10 Yards To Your Drives
Your winter course is a different kind of beast – longer and in many ways more difficult. With a few tweaks, however, you can add yardage to your drives to at least give yourself a shorter club into the green.
Start off by making sure your ball position is in line with the lead instep. The ball should be teed up no more than half a ball above the crown of the head. Now, it’s all about the strike.
“If you miss the middle of the clubface when it’s cold, distance is going to be a real problem for you,” says Walters, of True Fit Golf Centre in Warrington.
That being the case, how can you improve that strike and groove that ascending blow that will give you crucial extra yards?
Walters has a drill for you; grab yourself an empty golf ball box and put it a foot in front of the golf ball. When you hit a drive, both the ball and club head should miss the box. If you’re hitting down on the ball, you’ll soon know about it – you’ll destroy the box.
For that reason – and to avoid a potentially nasty injury – empty the box.
2. Muddy Lies
They’re awful, but muddy lies are part of winter golf. When you know how to approach a chip from a wet or muddy lie, however, you should have nothing to fear.
“The biggest trap amateur golfers fall into is trying to pick the ball off clean,” explains Walters. “If you’re focusing on this, all it’s doing is getting you to lift the club head away from the ground too early.”
For anyone who fears the fats and thins, the trick is to think about brushing the ground. “If the club interacts with the ground in the correct way, it doesn’t matter whether it’s floating on the water or a cart path; the contact will be good,” adds Walters.
“You could say a heavy brush of the ground with the club would be a fat shot, a light brush would be a thin and a medium brush would be perfect. Focus on the brush of the ground with the sole of the club. Don’t dig at it.”
3. The Punch Shot
This is one of the main winter golf shots – and a shot that looks fantastic during Open Championship week. However, it’s one that you need to work on at the range before taking to the course, for poor execution can be disastrous.
The first key difference is to set up with 70 per cent of your weight on the lead side. Then, get the ball just a ball’s width further back in your stance. Too far back and accuracy can be hard to control.
With that weight on the lead side and gripping down a fraction, you’ll feel quite restricted. However, swinging the club three quarters back to a three quarters finish, you’ll get that lower ball flight. This takes the blustery conditions largely out off play.
4. Holing Out From Close Range
This is a skill you need to master no matter the time of year. In the winter, however, you may wish to change how you approach those three-footers.
For Walters, it’s about hitting the back of the hole with purpose. “If you do that, it’s less likely that any bumps will knock the ball offline. You need one hundred per cent commitment, so try not to drop it in. Deceleration is your biggest enemy, so be positive.”
One other factor to bear in mind is the amount of break. “Unless you’re playing somewhere where the greens are always really good, like on the coast, in general there’s going to be less break in the winter. They’ll be slower, so think about this when you’re lining a putt up.”
5. Centred Ball Striking
Occasionally, you’ll get a ball that sits up in the rough even in the winter. It can look very inviting, but there’s a secret to ensuring a centred strike.
“Play it back in your stance,” says Walters. “This will help you hit the ball more in the middle of the face and avoid the bottom of the club getting too low in the grass.
“Get your pressure a little bit forward. Your movement pattern should stay the same, but you’re just going to catch the ball a little bit earlier in the downswing. You’ll get a centred hit as opposed to one higher off the face, as would be the case if that strike came slightly later.”
Watch more videos and golf tips by Ged Walters.
Get to work on these five types of winter golf shots and you should have more success this winter.