When Is It Too Windy To Play Golf

Playing golf on a windy day can be extremely frustrating, so frustrating in fact that if the wind is gusting too hard I get tempted to stop the round and leave the course.  

I have never left the course before in my life but I have certainly considered it due to windy playing conditions. But, When Is It Too Windy To Play Golf?

When Is It Too Windy To Play Gold? Here’s a checklist that you can go through and if you answer “Correct” to any of the questions, it’s probably too windy to play golf. I’ll touch on each of these reasons later in the post.

  1. Birds can’t fly
  2. Hard time keeping balance
  3. Golf bag blew over
  4. Hat blew off
  5. Rolling clouds
  6. A flag never rests
  7. Debris everywhere
  8. Wind chill too cold
  9. Windburn
  10. Applying eyedrops too much

Lets Dive A Little Deeper

Bird’s Can’t Fly

If you have ever been to the Oregon coast, you know that hardly a day goes by when the wind doesn’t blow. You will usually see seagulls flying, well, more like floating or hovering in the air.

If you are out on the course and you see a bird having a difficult time flying, this my be you warning sign. This is probably a good sign that your golf ball is not going to do what you want it to do.

If that bird is trying to fly against the wind but not getting anywhere and turns the other direction, maybe you should too.

Hard Time Keeping Balance

If you are getting off balance because of the wind, than those birds are surely tucked away nicely in their nests. If the wind is messing with your golf swing and preventing you from making a proper swing, this is a good sign.

Golf Bag Blew Over

You could blame this on you setting your stand bag down on uneven ground and a small gust of wind blew it over. Or, if your bag was sitting on level ground and the wind was blowing so hard that your bag blew over, this to me is a good sign.

Hat Blew Off

Sometimes there’s a random gust of wind and sometimes there’s a wind storm. Both scenarios could easily blow your hat off your head.

If it blows off your head multiple times and you find yourself chasing it down the fairway, it’s probably too windy to play golf.

Rolling Clouds

You might be asking yourself, “what the heck are rolling clouds?”, this is a name I gave the clouds that I experienced while playing golf one beautiful day.

In short, it was a calm, fall day. I was in the middle of my eighteen hole round when I noticed some bizarre clouds coming out of the west from the coast range.

The clouds literally looked like a 100 mile long massive tube cloud that was just rolling towards us. About 30 minutes after noticing the clouds, the wind hit, and it hit hard.

Because we were near the end of our round, we decided to finish but it was not pleasant. I’m not sure what the wind speed was but it was so bad that I almost left the course without finishing my round.

A Flag Never Rests

This might be very obvious to you but if you didn’t know already, if the flag is whipping around and not resting at all, it’s probably too windy to play golf.

I’m talking about the aggressive whip too, not the little slow moving flag. Like, if you can hear the whip coming from the flag, that wind is blowing hard.

Debris Everywhere

No golfer likes to do the grounds workers job. If you are playing and you literally need to carve a path in the putting green because there’s too much debris, it’s probably too windy to play golf.

Wind Chill Too Cold

You know when the weather person says that it’s going to be 50 degrees outside and you go out and it feels like 30 degrees. That is the wind chill and it’s not a good feeling if you are not prepared for it.

It doesn’t take a strong wind for the wind chill to make it uncomfortable being outside.


Windburns are no fun, if you ever had a sunburn, feels kind of like that but a bit of a dryer feeling with less burning sensation.

If the wind is blowing this hard, you are most likely experiencing most of the other reasons not to play golf on a windy day.

Preparing To Play

Let’s start with what you should wear and other things you might need when the wind blows hard.

Protecting yourself from the wind is extremely important for many reasons. You don’t really consider the reasons to prepare until you are in the moment.

  • Windbreaker -This a good idea, if it’s hot outside and the wind feels good, I would suggest something light and breathable to wear.  If it’s cold outside, wear something thicker obviously.
  • Hats – These are pretty important to keep your hair from flopping from side to side and front to back.
  • Sunscreen – This is to provide an extra layer of protection on your face, legs, and arms.
  • Glasses – Not everyone can afford expensive golf glasses but if you want to purchase some on a budget I would suggest Craigslist or inexpensive constructions glasses.  When it gets windy, golf course debris is flying all over the place and if something gets in your eyes then you can kiss your round goodbye. Hopefully, a bad round is the least of your worries if something gets in your eyes.
  • Eye drops – Unless you get dry eye’s on a regular bases than you probably aren’t thinking of adding any to your bag.  When the wind is blowing it can make your eyes dry and when your eyes dry up that’s a recipe for inflammation and possibly blurry vision.
  • Hand/Toe Warmers – These are fairly inexpensive and they last a few years, why not through these in your bag just in case.  I have used these countless times, I showed up to the course and the temperature difference is completely different than when I left my house.  They just make the round more enjoyable especially when the wind chill is really cold.

Now that we have some of the essential items out of the way.  For you to have the best round possible, let’s move on to other important things.

How to tell which way the wind is blowing

When the wind is gusting pretty hard you might not be confused as to which way the wind is gusting.  If there’s a consistent stream of wind then a common technique to tell which way the wind is blowing is taking a little grass and tossing it in the air.  Whichever way the grass blows is the direction that the wind is blowing in the general area.

How to tell which way the wind is blowing near the target?

This can be a challenging task, especially if your vision isn’t the best but maybe if you have a playing partner with the good vision you can ask them.  A good way to tell the direction of the wind near the target is to look at the surrounding trees. This may be obvious to you but many new golfers don’t think about this technique.

Another good way to judge the wind near the target is to look at the tall grass, like the thick stuff that stands two feet high and that swallows up golf balls.  Not every course has tall grass like that but you get the idea, use anything you can to give you a clue. Even a bird that looks like it’s flying but really it’s going nowhere because the wind is too strong, that might give you a clue that it’s gusting harder up high than down on the ground.  If there is water nearby, use the small little waves that form when the wind blows over it to help decide the wind direction.

And last but not least, if your target is the flag then use the flag to tell you the direction.

Teeing off in a headwind

When the wind is howling against the direction you are teeing off, this can be tough.  Don’t worry, you can do a couple of things to help get a little more yardage.  The preferred shot to play if the wind is coming right at you is a lower shot.  These obviously don’t get too high in the air for the wind to slow it down.  This is easier said than done though.

  1. Tee the ball up lower – This can be difficult for some golfers because there’s a chance of topping the ball.  If you are using a driver than this will give you a bullet in most cases.  But it’s also a good way to hook the ball too.
  2. Use more club – If you are playing a par 3 and you normally hit a 7 iron, this would be a perfect time to switch to a 6 iron or 5 iron depending on the wind.
  3. If you use a less lofted iron and play the ball a bit further back in your stance you can get less loft on the club which will keep the ball lower.
  4. If you don’t like altering your swing much than you could always swing your normal swing but add a little extra power.  This is not ideal but if it’s your only option than you might as well use it.
  5. Grip down on the shaft for more control of the ball flight.
  6. Don’t forget to take a little wider stance, this helps for those really hard gusts of wind that could though you off balance in the middle of your backswing.

Teeing off in a tailwind

Tailwinds can be just as frustrating as a headwind.  Instead of trying to add a little extra power, you may need to take a little off.  I don’t mind tailwinds as much as headwinds because it gives you a bit more opportunities. If you’re playing a par 5 and you need every bit of that drive.  That’s a perfect time to have a tailwind, possible eagle depending on your distance.

  1. Tee the ball up normal or a little higher – I say a little higher because depending on your normal driving setup, you might want a bit more tee height so you can launch the ball higher.  But you would need to slightly change your spine angle in order to launch the ball higher.
  2. Use less club – Just like the example for a headwind, maybe you are playing a par three that you normally use a 7 iron for, this would be a good time to switch to an 8 iron or maybe 9 iron depending on the wind.

Wind coming from left to right

This can be tricky depending on whether you are a right-handed player or left-handed player.  

  1. For a right-handed player that plays a draw, the left to right wind will straighten out your ball flight a bit and you will need to aim more left to compensate
  2. A right-handed player that plays a fade, the left to right wind will amplify your fade so you will need to aim more left to compensate.
  3. For a left-handed golfer that plays a draw, the left to right wind will amplify your draw and you might need to aim a little more left or take a little off the draw.
  4. A left-handed golfer that plays a fade, the left to right wind will straighten out your fade and you will need to aim left.

Wind coming from the right is the same concept but reversed.

Wind and rain

This is probably the worst combination because this is when you start to get really uncomfortable.  It’s hard enough to hit the golf ball the way you want in normal conditions and now you through in wind and rain into the mix you get a recipe for disaster.  I remember playing in a torrential downpour with some intense gusts of wind and my rain gear hardly did its job.  These are the conditions that you really need to love the game of golf in order to keep playing in these conditions.

Playing in the rain deserves its own post and I will probably write about it because I live in Portland Oregon where it rains quite a bit.  

I hope you got some useful information from this post and feel free to leave a comment.

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