There’s no getting away from it, Winter is here again.
For golfers in most parts of the UK, Ireland and Northern Europe that spells cold windy weather, muddy golf courses, temperatures below 10 degrees, hollow-timed greens or worse of all, temporary holes cut in fairways.
You don’t have to put the clubs away from October to March.
Global Golfer Editor Matthew Moore is a devoted winter golfer and plays all-year round.
This practical guide is aimed at sharing advice on the equipment, clothing and shortcuts you need to WINTER-PROOF your golf game.
Invest in great golf waterproofs
The single most important piece of kit you can own for winter golf is a great set of waterproofs.
Golf waterproofs have changed dramatically over the past two decades from something that once resembled a tartan tracksuit with a plastic shopping bag for a lining.
You might have stayed reasonably dry but you probably finished your round feeling like a “boil in the bag meal,” at severe risk of dehydration.
Things changed radically when companies like GoreTex entered the market and firms that specialised in producing cutting edge clothing for outdoor enthusiasts, mountaineers and skiers started to dabble in golf and introduced specialist fabric technologies to golf waterproofs.
The main things you are looking for in a waterproof are a guarantee of water resistance and a comfortable fit that gives you freedom of movement in the swing.
Some of the best golf waterproofs made today are by Swedish company Galvin Green.
They use GoreTex fabric which comes with a lifetime guarantee against letting in water and the brand is known for innovative fashionable styles and colour ways.
They come with a hefty price tag but it’s a great comfort knowing that if something goes wrong they will repair or replace them.
ProQuip is another company that specialises in making great weatherwear for golf. They have been making waterproofs in Scotland for over 30-years and specialise in the lightest, quietest and most playable clothing for golfers. They were one of the first companies to own a GoreTex licence but now specialise in exclusive European fabric technologies that are its own trade secret.
They have supplied 19 Ryder Cup teams with weatherwear and are preferred supplier to the 2014 European Ryder Cup Team at Gleneagles, so you can have faith they know what they are doing.
Sunderland of Scotland is another famous waterproof brand and was propelled to fame by great TV adverts featuring the late Seve Ballesteros playing golf in a storm on a windswept beach in Pedrena, Spain.
They are owned by jumper giant Glenmuir and still turn out some excellent waterproofs at affordable prices.
Every major golf brand produces a rain suit, but you have to ask – would you buy a motorbike from a specialist car company or would you stick with motorcycle experts?
Choose a company with a long running heritage in producing great golf waterproofs, because when you’re playing winter golf you’ll spend a lot of time in them – and you’ll want to be warm and dry.
A handy tip for any winter day, mild or freezing, is to wear your waterproof trousers to avoid getting mud and divots splashed all over your slacks. It’ll save on your electricity bill and reduce the washing load.
If it’s a slightly warmer winter day but still muddy then wear a pair of shorts underneath your waterproof trousers. It’s actually quite comfy.
Layer up to scotch Jack Frost
The best way to be comfortable for winter golf is to wear a proper layering system. A proper balance of layers keeps you warm but also allows your skin to breathe, temperature to stay consistent and for sweat to be wicked away so that you aren’t left clammy and cold next to your skin.
Try a compression base layer with moisture wicking properties, then a technical fabric polo shirt with a light mid-layer fleece on top. The three layers should work well together to provide breathability, warmth and comfort.
Snuggly Socks, toastie head and hot hands
For winter golf you can’t beat a good pair of mittens, a beanie hat and some warm thick socks. They don’t cost the earth but they keep you comfortable on cold days.
If you can buy a pair of mitts or a hat that is water repellent even better because nothing gets you colder than rain when it’s worked its way through your outer layers onto your skin.
Lots of companies also make bucket hats which are super handy in wet weather and cause the rain to run off and away from your neckline and onto the ground.
Even with good waterproofs rain can get into your collar or pockets and slowly seep into your under layers.
Be Sensible carry spares
It’s simple stuff but so many people forget to carry spare gloves and towels with them in winter. You can keep them dry by packing them in freezer bags or carrier bags in case it rains.
Do like the skiers – slip on the winter tyres
Ok, so your lovely spikeless golf shoes look snazzy and feel great in the summer but are they going to cut it in the winter months, through mud, frost, rain, sleet and maybe even snow.
The answer is a definitive no. It’s always a great idea to have a pair of winter golf shoes, ideally hard wearing, waterproof and black.
There is absolutely no point in throwing on a beautiful pair of white leather shoes with a crocodile skin saddle to battle through the bog.
Be sensible, go for durability and function over fashion, after all it’s just for a few months before you can show off again.
Fill the flask and fuel the engine
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you don’t need to stay hydrated. Your body is working harder on cold days and you are probably burning more calories because you’re wearing more clothes and generating more energy.
Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water and eat some hot soup at the halfway house or have a cup of tea/ coffee.
Enjoy a wee nip at the 19th hole
The Scots may have invented golf, or was it the Dutch? They are hardy folk and they know a thing or two about weather and how to recover from a soaking. Nothing warms the heart better than a wee dram of whisky at the 19th hole to bring you back to life.
Did you find this guide useful?
Let us know what you think? Share your handy winter golf tips – from hip flasks to hand warmers in the comment box below.
If you liked this, you might like our blog on 5 Winter Warmer Golf Breaks