Lessons on playing like a pro-golfer in the rain

Golfers at the Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort golf course. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Golfers at the Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort golf course. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The short rains, generally expected from mid-October to mid-December, are here with a vengeance, and with their coming , outdoor sports, golf included, become that much more difficult to play.

Golf in particular is treacherous in the rain, the grips get wet, the shoes get soaked, greens and fairways get flooded on occasion and the more humid, heavier air and winds make it more difficult to play and judge distance; good scores quickly become terrible scores. What can golfers do to play better in the rain?

Let me start with the Rules; many golfers walk off the golf course at the slightest hint of a drizzle, this is actually against Rule 6-8:

Discontinuance of Play; Resumption of Play. This Rule states, in part, that “The player must not discontinue play unless: (i) the committee has suspended play, (ii) he believes there is danger from lightning, (iii) he is seeking a decision from the Committee on a doubtful or disputed point, or (iv) there is some other good reason such as sudden illness”.

Rule 6-8 goes on to say, “Bad weather is not of itself a good reason for discontinuing play.” Players in breach of Rule 6-8 face disqualification.

Indeed under the guidelines for competition committees, and under Section 6, the Rules of Golf go on to say; “a competition need not be suspended simply on account of rain, unless the rain is so heavy that it would be unfair to require players to continue”.

Ordinarily, conditions that may lead to a course being deemed “unplayable” include – flooded greens or excessively strong winds, play can be justifiably be suspended.

Where the course is still deemed “playable” but some greens and bunkers are flooded, then Rule 25: Abnormal Ground Conditions, Embedded Ball and Wrong Putting Green, provides procedures of how to deal with such conditions.

So in simple English, heavy rain, a few flooded greens and/or bunkers by themselves do not constitute good enough reasons to discontinue play, golfers must therefore be prepared to play in mild to even heavy rain. Here are some tips.

Asked what was the most difficult part of playing in the rain, Pro-golfer Henrik Stenson responded, “Uh, staying dry?” To stay dry, you will need waterproof gear, readily available in all good pro shops.

And in response to Karen’s Raymond Nyamweya, a heavy woolen sweater does not fit the description of “weatherproof gear”! Generally waterproofs are easy to put on and remove and they are light enough so as not to impede the golf swing.

When buying golf shoes, especially those new fancy lines, ask yourself, “will these keep my feet dry in wet conditions?” And please check your golf shoe spikes, traction is key in wet conditions.

Check your club grips, are they worn? If yes, replace them and during play in wet conditions, wipe them down regularly. It also pays to waterproof you golf bag, to ensure your golf clubs remain dry throughout the round.

Good fitting gloves, preferably not worn to the bone are also essential for playing in the rain, but a few new pairs, you will need them. Carry a good umbrella as well.

Golf courses are more challenging in wet weather, and it is those players who accept that they have to swing easier that emerge victorious.

Famous golf coach Butch Harmon has this piece of advice, “into the breeze, fight the urge to swing harder, an easier swing will keep the ball down.”

The same applies in rainy conditions, swing easier, club up and swing at only 75 per cent capacity, you will score better.