Unless you're teeing it up in Phoenix, where it was more than 100 degrees this past week, chances are you're about to play some cold-weather golf. The forecast in Connecticut, where I'll be playing, is for 48 degrees on Saturday and 53 on Sunday. It's still nice enough to play and have a good time, but you better prepare yourself. Here are some tips I've gleaned from the pages of Golf Digest and other sources. I hope they help you play to your potential and enjoy your game this weekend.
--Invest in a pair of thermal underwear--tops and bottoms. A great brand I've discovered recently is Under Armour. They fit skin tight and allow you to dress in layers over them. They will keep you toasty in quite cold conditions.
--Keep your feet warm as well by wearing an extra pair of socks--thin ones so your shoes don't feel too bulky.
--Buy some of those dry-chemical hand warmers you see in the ski shops (Dick's sporting goods carries them; so do camping stores), and put them in your golf bag. About 20 minutes before your round, open and shake them, then put one in each pocket. When you play, make sure you keep your hands in your pockets between shots. Open a new pair somewhere on the back nine so they don't get cold on the last couple of holes. Nothing ruins a good day of golf faster than not being able to feel the club in your hands.
--Before you leave the house, heat up some herbal tea and put it in a small thermos. Take small sips throughout the round to keep you warm. Unless you're addicted to caffeine, stay away from real tea or coffee. It will only make you jittery on the greens.
--Do your stretching while you're still at home. Ride an exercise bike for 10 minutes or take a hot shower first to get warm and limber. Stretching on a cold practice range or the first tee just won't cut it when it's 50 degrees.
--Wear a ski cap, even if you don't like the look. You lose most of your body heat through your head. Keeping your head warm will help you stay warm.
--Invest in a pair of cart gloves. I like cart gloves, rather than winter golf gloves, because you can continue to wear your conventional glove and just take them off to hit your shots. You'll also have better feel on the greens if you're wearing a normal glove.
--Try to insist on walking instead of riding. This will help get the blood flowing so you stay warm. If you have to ride, consider bringing an extra coat--even an overcoat--and put it over you when you're in the cart.
--Alternate golf balls on each hole. Keep the ball you're not playing in your pocket against your hand warmer so it stays warm. John Calabria, whom I caddied for in a varsity golf match at Florida State University many years ago, showed me this trick. It was about 40 degrees that January day in Tallahassee, and John shot even par. In fact, he told me to keep the balls you are going to play with inside the house overnight so they don't get cold sitting in your car or garage.
--Remember to take more club. The colder air temperatures will reduce the length of your shots by at least 10 percent. It's better to be a little long than a little short on most approaches.
--Finally, save the alcohol until after your round. Drinking a shot or two of whisky might make you feel warmer, but that's only an illusion. It might cause you to think you're playing better, too. Come to think of it, that might not be all bad!
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