Swinging in the rain

Slick outerwear and a great driver help maintain your game in inclement weather

There’s an old Scottish saying that “If there’s nae wind nor rain, there’s nae golf!” The hardy Scots loved the added challenge that tough weather conditions presented to what was already a difficult game. At this year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, the players had to deal with not only wind and rain, but cold weather as well. They certainly didn’t enjoy the weather, but it didn’t stop them from playing and performing at the highest level. Of course, the professionals were outfitted with the latest in rainsuits and golf gear, which helped mitigate the wind, rain and cold.

One of the great things about living in Hawaii is that you can play golf 365 days a year in relatively benign conditions – it may be windy at times, but it’s never too cold, unless perhaps you’re playing the Volcano Golf Club, situated at 4,200 feet above sea level in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Rain can be a factor at times on courses in Hawaii, especially on courses located close to the mountains or on the windward side, which tends to get most of the wet weather.

Fortunately, golf rainwear has come a long way in the last 10 years. The leading designers, manufacturers and marketers today use a combination of technology, performance fabrics and design features to make their suits lighter, more breathable, more water resistant, more comfortable and, as a result, more golf friendly than ever before.

A great feature for Hawaii golfers especially are the new half-sleeve jackets or jackets with removable sleeves. These short sleeves help to free up your swing and allow better ventilation, yet still shield you from the wind and rain. Generally, the most costly rainsuits are all waterproof.

Zero Restriction is the market leader in golf outerwear and boasts more pros on the PGA, LPGA and Champion’s tours than any other manufacturer. Their flagship Gore-Tex rain-suit is branded WhisperSOFTTM and is completely waterproof and, as the name implies, very soft and quiet. ZR’s patented features of Dual Motion Cuffs, Expansion Back PleatsTM and Expansion Back PleatsTM work together to guarantee an unrestricted golf swing.

A second great choice, brand new for the industry, is Sun Mountain’s HD jacket. This full-zip jacket with a two-year waterproof guarantee delivers great heavy duty wind and rain performance and yet is one of the lightest jackets on the market – perfect for Hawaii weather conditions. Spandex added to the fabric provides great stretch or “give” and allows the player a full range of movement.

Peak performance in chillier conditions is all about layering. Adidas ClimaLite Compression Thermal Mock is the perfect undergarment to provide a super lightweight shell that really keeps your core warm. The Adidas ClimaCool construction allows for great breathability so this garment also performs great in Hawaii’s warmer weather conditions.

If you don’t want to invest big bucks in a rainsuit but still want to play well in the rain, check out Taylor-Made’s latest driver, the Tour Burner, currently being played on tour by Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Kenny Perry, Sean O-Hair and Natalie Gulbis.

This driver was designed with Dual Crown Technology, its latest breakthrough in the science of weight management. Taylor-Made was able to reduce the weight by 17 percent and reduced the club-head wall thickness by further refining their Ultra-Thin Wall technology. The combined saved weight has been redistributed to the lower crown, creating a radical shift in club-head design that produces an exceptionally low center of gravity. This lower CG coupled with the deep club-face makes it very easy to gain additional yardage by promoting a higher launch angle and lower spin rate.

Having a higher launch angle is especially important when playing in wet conditions, since distance is all about how far you can carry the ball in the air – roll is virtually non-existent on soggy fairways or roughs.

I’d like to offer a few tips to help maximize distance with your driver in wet conditions. First, make sure you tee your ball up so that at least half of the ball is above the top surface of the driver. Secondly, check your ball position – make sure the ball is teed up forward in your stance or directly off of the instep of your foot closest to the target. These two conditions allow you to swing slightly up through the ball and really launch the ball high in the air. Finally, remember that you’re bundled up with several layers of rain protection, and despite the latest fabric technology, you will still feel more restricted than when playing in just a golf shirt. It’s important to try to swing within yourself – focus on maintaining balance throughout your golf swing, and chances are you will be able to find your ball in the fairway.

Playing well in difficult conditions is helped by having the right equipment and clothing, but it’s mostly about having the right attitude. One of the great bad-weather players of all times, Tom Watson, who won five Open Championships in the harshest of conditions, said he actually relished playing in bad weather since he felt that gave him a huge advantage over the rest of the field who generally spent their day complaining about the poor weather. The Scots had it right from the beginning.

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