How to enjoy winter golf in the Northwest

Updated: January 2, 2019

In the Northwest, winter golf is like a second season. Playing in winter is different from summer golf, but it can still be a lot of fun.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when playing golf in winter:

• Walking instead of riding will help you keep warm.

• Become Tommy Two Gloves – winter gloves have improved considerably in recent years and they can still have a good feel. Carry a hand warmer in your pocket.

• Cold golf balls don’t travel as far as warm balls so play with two balls – keep one in your pocket with the hand warmer and alternate holes with the balls. Also, lower compression balls travel further and feel better in cold weather.

• Know your club distances and remember that distances are significantly less in cold weather. Your ball will not get the roll-out like summer so it would be a good idea to move forward one tee box to account for the difference in yardage–keep in mind that you are out here to have fun not be macho.

• You will likely not get any run on with green approaches so factor this into your club choice. Greens will be softer so adjust your approach shots to accommodate for less runout.

• Also, greens will be slower in winter as they will not be mowed down to summer levels for the health of the grass so you might want to spend a little more time on the practice green before starting your round.

• On long shots from rough consider using a rescue club as this cuts through the wet grass more effectively than an iron.

• By all means, use winter rules (known as preferred lies) to your advantage. Many courses use a local rule that allows clubs to extend free relief to anywhere through the green in extremely poor conditions. If this rule is in place, then you are entitled to free relief in the rough. Remember to pick up your ball when relocating it and not use your club to move it. Normally the preferred lie rule is limited to fairways only. If you are playing in a tournament find out how far you can move your ball as some courses use six inches and other allow a full club length.

• As winter golf requires more clothes, your swing will not be the same as your summer swing. Dress with several light layers and if it’s not raining, wear a vest instead of a heavy outer layer. Be sure you have dry footwear as wet feet can put a damper on your round. You might want to check out Oregon Mudders.

The advantage of winter golf is the lack of congestion on the tees and lower rates. Take into account the shorter days when making teetime reservations. Cloudy days will get dark earlier than clear days.

Don’t expect to have the same scores you shoot during the summer. You can expect to add about 5 or 6 more shots to your score due to winter conditions. As you probably know, drinking alcohol lowers your body temperature so you might want to carry an insulated bottle of coffee or other hot beverage.

Finally, as the temperatures drop, care for golf course turf is especially important so please replace your divots and ball marks. Keep in mind that the grass is not growing like it does in warm weather and divots are very slow to heal – so make sure you take care of the turf when you are playing.