Looking for the best tips for playing golf in the rain?
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. Sure, the ball won’t travel as far but you can usually play winter rules and have soft conditions that are primed to help you go low.
Unless you’re going to pack it in and avoid golf in the rain, you need to learn how to play golf in the rain. While not as enjoyable as when it’s 70 and sunny if you’re prepared it’s more than doable.
Some of the biggest tips to play golf in the rain happen before you ever even head to the course. In this post, I’ll take you through exactly how to play in the rain and still shoot great scores.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to play golf in the rain.
While some of these tips might sound basic, don’t discount the importance of the little things. Because, as you know, the little things in golf always make the biggest difference. According to the PGA Tour, the top 20 players are separated by two shots or less. If you can get even a half stroke on the field or your buddies when it’s raining, it can make all the difference.
This is the most obvious of the list but also the number one tip when playing golf in the rain. Once you and your equipment get really wet, it’s all over. Not only does the fun go away but the game is 10X harder.
Here’s how to keep you and your gear dry during a rainy day on the links.
Your rain hood that comes with your bag is the most important part of playing great in the rain. Personally, I’d rather be soaking wet than have my clubs and grips wet. If your grips get wet, it’s easy to let them go on accident and make it hard to stay focused on your round. Because once they’re wet and it continues to rain, good luck getting them dry until tomorrow.
Keep your rain hood in your bag all year round, even if the weather seems fine when you pull into the parking lot. I promise this will have a hugely positive effect on your game.
The next most important thing to keep dry when playing in the rain is yourself! Quality rain gear will give you one less thing to worry about. Check out our top two picks to stay warm and dry:
Again, simple but easy. Wearing a hat when it rains is a great way to keep water out of your face when it’s raining hard. And if it gets real nasty, you can always reverse it a la Tiger Woods.
I’m sure you’ve been out in the rain and found your hands cold too. This is uncomfortable and makes it really hard to grip each club with the right amount of pressure. Carry around some hand warmers in your rain pants so you can keep your hands warm in between shots.
Like you rain hood, even if it doesn’t look like bad weather, play it safe and carry your umbrella during your next round. Not only will keep you and your clubs dry but it’s a great way to air dry your towels and gloves as well.
We recently did a review of several different golf umbrellas. Click here to head over to that post.
When it’s raining, your standard leather gloves just aren’t enough. If you opt not to get rain specific gloves, I recommend having at least 3-4 gloves to rotate throughout the round. Otherwise, check out these rain gloves that’ll help you stay warm and dry without losing your feel on the course.
This one is super obvious. But if you have any notion that you will be playing golf in the rain, make sure you have waterproof golf shoes. Nothing is more miserable than having soaked soaks and feet. It certainly makes concentrating on that putt for birdie much harder!
The good news is that most of your nicer golf shoes being sold are waterproof, but if you need help finding a pair make sure to check out our post on the best golf shoes on the market.
Now that you know how to stay warm and dry, the next thing to think about is your mindset when it’s raining out. When the weather gets bad, it’s easy to get frustrated and let it get the best of you and your score. But don’t let it! You have to stay super patient when you’re battling the conditions.
The key is to focus on each shot at a time, not thinking about future holes or weather conditions. Stay in the moment and think only about your current shot. If you have a bad hole, brush it off and keep thinking about more opportunities in the future.
When it gets wet and rainy, I recommend clubbing up. A wet ball reacts very differently than when it’s warm and dry outside. A wet golf ball carries moisture and doesn’t travel nearly as far. Plus, it’s probably cold which makes the air heavier and also limits the ball flight.
When necessary, opt to hit more fairway woods and hybrids as they are more forgiving than long irons.
Staying in the fairway is even more of a premium when its wet as the rough gets even harder to hit out of than normal.
While your long game is most affected by rainy and wet conditions, your short game will require different shots as well.
You’ll want to hit chips and putts firmer than normal. Putting speed becomes an even more important in the rain. As there is moisture on the ground, the greens will inevitably slow down. And if it’s rained a lot in the past few days, the greenskeepers often can’t mow to the normal levels which means the grass is already longer (and slower) than normal.
When it’s rainy and wet, you’re bound to get more backspin as the greens are more receptive. Depending on how hard it’s rained, you might not get any roll at all. In fact, you might even get backspin on clubs you never could on a dry and warm day. Make sure to plan less roll out with pitches and more backspin with wedges and irons.
Depending on your ability and current sand skills, wet sand might not be a huge issue while it likely is for other amateur golfers. As the sand is more bare than normal, it’s easy to hit it fat and leave it way short.
Here’s how to hit from wet sand:
- Opt for a lob wedge as it has a lower bounce (typically)
- Aim to hit it only one inch behind the ball instead of the standard two inches, otherwise, you could get it chunky and end up leaving it in the bunker.
While playing in the rain and wet isn’t as fun as normal golf, it does come with some rules that differ from the normal rules of golf and can help your scoring. In our winter golf guide, I talked about the importance of knowing how the rules differ during the offseason in depth. Here are two of the common rule changes to consider when playing in the rain.
Casual water is defined by the USGA as, “Water that has accumulated temporarily and does not constitute a recognized hazard of the course. A player may move a ball from casual water without penalty.”
When you find yourself in a casual water situation, find the closest point of relief as long as it’s no closer to the hole. Remember, even if your feet are in casual water you still get relief, not just your ball.
The other big rule change that happens at a lot of clubs during winter is the lift, clean, and place rule. If you’ve ever struggled with hitting muddy golf ball then this rule is a life saver. Naturally, when it gets wet, the ground has more moisture and your ball picks up more mud.
Instead of having to deal with the frustration of mud balls, all you do is mark your ball and clean it. Then you place the ball (usually within six inches of the original spot), as long as it’s no closer to the hole. The only thing you can’t do is move the ball to a new type of grass. (i.e. Can’t move from rough to fairway or fringe to green).
5. Don’t expect Drives to Roll Out
When you are coming up with a plan of attack on the tee box, realize that drives will be very different compared to a dry, sunny day.
- Drives will not Carry as Far
- Drives could have Zero Roll Out
Both of these factors make it even more critical to hit your driver correctly. As I’ve said in other article, hit up on the driver and use the right amount of loft.
Golfing in the rain doesn’t have to be a struggle. You can learn how to adapt your game by being prepared before the round even begins. Make sure you have the right gear, extra towels, and everything else to stay warm and dry.
Once you’re on the course, enjoy the challenge. Stay patient, take your shots when you can but don’t try to be a hero when it gets nasty out. And don’t forget the big rule changes so don’t miss out on any strokes.
Finally, if that rain storm includes a lot of wind, don’t forget to adjust your game to play in wind. Good luck, have fun and go make some memories in the less than stellar conditions!