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The Elements Article Series - The Effect of Rain and Water on Your Game (Part 2 of 2)

Nov 22, 2014 3:53 PM
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Knowing what we know now about the golf ball and club interaction in rainy and wet conditions, mainly the loss of spin, let’s look at the different types of shots you may face in a soggy round and how to approach them.

A couple of things to note in general for all shots you play in the rain.  Make sure you try to keep your grips as dry as possible.  If they’re wet, you’re going to grip harder and this will affect your swing and ultimately distance.  Second, if you’re wearing some sort of rain jacket, realize that your swing will more than likely be restricted.  This will affect distance negatively as well.  These are two important things to keep in mind as you play on a wet, rainy day.

Off the Tee
One of the caveats to the rule I explained in the previous article, water equals less spin and more carry, will show its ugly head with your tee shots and any use of a driver and/or wood.  There is something about the flat, not significantly grooved face of these longer clubs that creates a lot more spin.  This significant increase in spin will lead to shorter shots.  So a good rule of thumb if your ball is wet and you’re playing a tee shot will be to underestimate your distance.  Also, these clubs will produce a much less predictable array of shots directionally.  If you have a go to shot, use it with the driver and woods.  

Playing from the fairway
If you’re lucky enough (or good enough) to be playing from a lot of fairways on a wet day, you’re in luck.  The fairway will easily be the place on the course you’ll be affected the least by the rain.  Remember the rule with our groovy friends, rain will lessen the spin affect.  Make sure to calculate your fairway shots appropriately by keeping in mind where your ball is, that area’s level of sogginess, and how the greens are receiving the ball.  You can still get a decent amount of spin from the fairways, but it will be affected negatively.  If you’re playing into a soft green, I’d play it close to your normal distances as the increase in carry will be lessened by the ball's decrease in roll.  Into a harder green that allows for some roll out, club down half a club to equalize your distances.

Playing from the rough
Stay out of the rough at all costs when it’s wet!  We all wish it was that easy, right?  The rough will play tricks on you.  The rough will produce flyer lies on a dry day.  Throw in some water and those can turn into some super fliers.  You will want to seriously consider how your ball is sitting in the rough and the level of wetness prior to playing your shot.  If your ball is sitting up, with the grass going in the same direction as your swing, you’re looking at a good opportunity for some serious distance.  This type of lie is idea from the rough, but the distance control will be key.  Grass going against your swing?  This will produce something a little closer to your normal distance.  Remember to take into consideration the green conditions we talked about above as well.

Playing out of sand
Playing out of the sand is fairly similar in both wet and dry conditions.  Out of a greenside bunker you’re going to want to do a couple of things.  First, you’ll want to close your clubface a little more than normal.  Our club will want to bounce a lot more out of the wet sand.  Closing the clubface will allow us to dig a little more, which is what we need to do in order to avoid the skull.  You’ll also want to take just a little bit of tempo off your swing.  This is needed because you’re going to make a little more solid contact with the ball due to the extra bounce wet sand will produce.

Playing in wet conditions requires a good memory and the ability to reason and calculate your distances based on your lie and level of sogginess.  Next time you play in wet conditions, use a little logic and pay close attention to what’s going on and you’ll enjoy yourself so much more.

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