7 Winter Golf Tips to Keep Playing Year Round

By Todd Mrowice

Red golf flag on snowy course

Winter golf. Some say it’s fun. Some say it’s crazy. In areas of the U.S. where it snows, golf tends to come to a screeching halt sometime in late fall. For the truly devoted, the golf clubs never fully get put away for the winter.

More courses are staying open to allow those less affected by the cold to come out and tee it up, as long as the course conditions allow for play. Snow can be a factor, but there are also some other things those braving winter golf should be aware of. Here are some tips to keep you playing year-round.

Have Realistic Expectations

Even the best players have to yield a bit to winter golf. For one, the golf ball isn’t going to go as far because your swing will most likely be shortened a bit, plus the cold temperatures will drain some distance. Know going into your winter golf round that your distances probably won’t be what they were over the summer, so club up.

If you’re playing a course that you often visit, your score will probably be a little higher than during peak summer conditions. That’s to be expected. In addition, you should have realistic expectations of the golf course itself. Superintendents who have courses ready in near-freezing temperatures deserve a lot of respect. Golfers should not expect pristine conditions such as perfectly manicured greens, first cuts from the fairway, or fluffy bunkers.

Proper Attire

It’s incredibly important to dress appropriately for winter golf. Taking this lightly can make for a miserable day on the golf course. Bring options such as a lighter or heavier jacket than the one you’re wearing to tee off in. The large pockets of your golf bag or the golf cart basket are there for these situations.

Winter Golf Hat

Bring a winter hat and a standard golf hat. It’s nice to have both options in the event you start to sweat or the sun comes out. In the event it’s really cold, you might want to wear both.

Top Layers

Layer, layer, layer. It’s always easier to take layers off than wish you had more to put on. Consider starting with a long-sleeve base layer designed for cold weather. Many golf apparel companies make them. They are typically tight to the skin. From there, add a polo shirt and a vest or a lighter jacket. Preferably something windproof and water repellent. Hoodies are also acceptable as long as the club allows them.

Bottoms

A base layer bottom is highly recommended. Like the top, it’s a tighter stretch material that keeps you warm and comfortable. You can easily throw on a pair of golf pants over them or consider a pair of golf rain pants. This is also the only situation you’ll find courses ease up on their “no denim” policy.

Socks

Don’t overdo it on socks. If you can find yourself a thicker long pair of socks that go to your calf it will leave you some room for a shorter pair to put over them if it’s a particularly cold day.

Shoes

This one depends on the weather. If it’s cold but fairly dry, you can go with your normal golf shoes. Preferably a waterproof pair. If you’re playing in an Eskimo Open with snow on the ground, consider going with a lighter pair of snow boots.

Gloves

Many manufacturers make cold weather golf gloves that come in a two-pack. The better route would be to buy yourself a pair of cart gloves. These are larger mittens that easily slip on and off. That way you can use your regular golf glove and also keep your hands warm while you’re driving or walking.

Stretches for Winter Golf

If you’re not the kind of person that stretches before you play, you might want to change your routine for winter golf. If you thin or chunk your first tee shot, it can send ripples through your body in the cold weather. Instead, find a warm place inside the clubhouse and get your body ready with some light stretching. Your back, knees, and arms will thank you.

Walk or Ride?

Consider your options to walk or ride when you get to the course, if possible.

Riding can obviously shave some time off of your round, but if it’s a particularly windy day, riding in a cart can be very uncomfortable. Always have the windshield of the golf cart up to avoid the front breeze. Riding will also give you more space to store the extras you’ll have with you to brave the cold.

Walking can be a great winter exercise or a perfect option if the course is a little wet. In the event the course is cart path only, walking will actually save you time.

Get Some Color

Consider looking into colored golf balls for winter golf. If there’s snow on the ground, brightly-colored golf balls -- orange, red, or yellow -- can make ball-hunting a lot easier. If you’ve been hesitant to get into the colored golf ball trend, winter golf is the perfect excuse to give them a go.

Accessories to Consider

For maximum comfort during your winter golf round, consider replacing your bug spray and other accessories with these items.

Sunglasses

The sun bouncing off of snow can be intensely bright. A good pair of sunglasses will make your day easier.

Sunscreen

It sounds crazy but again, the sun can be bright in the winter. Your nose, ears, and cheeks can still burn. Plus, the moisture helps you avoid wind burn if you’re riding in a cart.

Cart Heater

Many golf retailers sell small heaters for golf carts along with replacement propane tanks. Consider using one, they fit conveniently into a golf cart cup holder.

Cart Enclosure

This time of the year many golf retailers will have golf cart enclosures available. These enclosures attach to the golf cart using either buttons or bungee cords. They have doors that zip open and closed to keep you nice and warm.

Insulated Cup

You’re going to need some coffee or hot chocolate while playing winter golf. Consider an insulated cup that’s stainless steel and double-walled to keep your beverage warm.

Have Fun

Don’t forget to have fun. Winter golf can be a great time amongst friends or even by yourself. If you have a lighter approach and a good attitude it can be a great winter activity.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.