Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series by John Renslow on prepping for winter golf.
Last week, Get Into Golf began prepping you for winter. Cold feet may keep us from doing some things that we ought to do, but they shouldn’t keep us from playing golf while the weather is less than perfect.
As we enter into these cold and wet months, Get Into Golf is spending a couple of weeks helping you prepare for a round of golf that may not be played in ideal conditions.
Some days will be cold, some days will be wet, and often a day will start off very cool and then become quite comfortable as the sun breaks through. The last thing we want to do is give up on a round of golf, stay in your La-Z-boy and go ‘stir crazy’. You need to equip yourself to enjoy the game through the elements and ready yourself for a great day of golf.
We will need dry feet, hands that won’t slip and outerwear that keeps you warm without impeding your world-class, athletic golf swing. Not only will we discuss some additions to your wardrobe, there may even be a need to make seasonal changes to your “year round” equipment (i.e. choice of golf balls).
Part one on this topic described a waterproof shoe requirement. (Please go online, www.theunion.com, to view last week’s column) This is imperative. Even if no rain is falling, the dew and moisture from the ground can make your round very uncomfortable.
There is nothing worse during a long walk, round of golf than water in your shoes. The discomfort is only half of the problem, the water soaking into your socks will weigh you down.
Today, we’ll move ahead and focus on more lofty issues, starting with your umbrella package. Golf umbrellas are different from the rest. They are larger and most are specifically designed to hold up to the wind. The one that starts small and expands, then pops out to full size just won’t do. You need a sizable, sturdy umbrella.
You wouldn’t believe how many folks run into the Pro Shop, faces wet, eyes as big as saucers, groping for the last umbrella during a day of forecasted rain. Prior to this anxious event, find a good golf umbrella. To carry them around all the time (even though most golf bags have a holster) can be annoying. So, throw it in the trunk and you’ll be ready when the time comes.
What type of hat to wear will vary on the severity of weather. On a misty day, the typical baseball hat will do just fine. For a cold day, go with a fuzzy, warm knit cap. However, with some actual participation (make that precipitation), I recommend the traditional bucket hat (you know, the hat Gilligan wore on the TV show) with a modern twist.
Currently, a few different manufacturers produce a completely waterproof version of this hat. The important thing is that the bucket hat covers an area beyond the baseball cap. Even if the baseball cap is waterproof (yes, they are available), the rain runs down your neck and into your shirt. Not good. The bucket hat will send the rain beyond the neckline and onto your waterproof outerwear.
“What type of outerwear?” you ask. I’m glad you asked. Several top manufacturers sell good quality, waterproof outerwear; Nike, Footjoy, and Adidas, to name a few. But, one manufacturer stands head and shoulders above the rest. Zero Restriction.
It is one thing to make a waterproof garment. It is another to make it comfortable and non-binding. Let’s back up a minute, to label something as “waterproof” it has to pass some stringent tests. The quick overview is to imagine the back of a jacket stretched out like a hammock, then filled with water. Next, we just let it sit…and sit…and sit…for hours. If there is no leak, no moisture making it through, it’s no problem. Otherwise, it’s water “resistant”, which will not fit the bill when you’re trying to stay dry.
The dilemma is that most waterproof apparel, produced for cooler temperatures, will feel bulky and restrictive. Have you ever seen the film footage of Alan Shepherd trying to hit a golf ball on the moon? It’s usually just a little better than that. Enter Zero Restriction; an outerwear company with the golfer in mind. Pleats are positioned in just the right places to allow full freedom of motion while still protecting you from the elements.
Candidly, this stuff isn’t cheap. However, this could be a once in a lifetime expense and it may only take one day in the rain to make this investment (around $300) well worth it. Also, Zero Restriction is sold as separates, rather than a suit. So, you can get one size jacket and a different size pant.
Find yourself some “rain gloves”. Both Footjoy and Zero Restriction make gloves specifically designed to be wet. In fact, the Zero gloves are supposed to be soaked in water before you use them. Cost: $25.
Next, get some “cart gloves”. These are large, mitten like gloves that will keep your hands toasty between shots. Titleist and Zero Restriction are two good selections. They keep your hands warm, but you can get them on and off without a can opener. Cost: $30
While we’re at it, here’s a great tip. Buy some “hand warmers” to place inside the gloves or your pockets. These are small pouches or packets that when opened create a chemical reaction that warms up the pouch. One of these in each cart glove will keep your hands warm and supple.
One last thing, play a ‘softer’ golf ball. Golf ball cores (the inner sphere) are measured for compression, how much the ball will “squish” at impact. As the season goes on and the temperature drops, the material becomes less pliable (push on a garden hose one cold, winter day), it may help you to get a lower compression golf ball with a softer core that will continue to “squish”. Boys (sorry…men) you might try a “ladies” golf ball. Women, a “ladies” golf ball will work, but you might try the Top Flite D2 Feel or the Srixon SoftFeel ball.
We don’t have any rain in the forecast, yet. So, you have plenty of time to get ready. Sometimes there is nothing more fun than playing a little golf in the rain. As an ancillary benefit, you will play fast, because you and I might be the only people on the course!
John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org