Golf is one of the most popular hobbies in the country. Depending on your climate, you might have to deal with a rainy round or rescheduling because of the weather. The question is, though, how much rain is too much for golf?
The amount of rain that is too much for golf is a downpour that causes any standing water or becomes dangerous to the golfers on the course. In this case, management will pause gameplay until the conditions clear up. If lightning is present, then the gameplay will definitely be suspended.
This article will take a look at how much rain is typically the limit for golf courses. Though golf can be played in most weather conditions, there is a limit when it comes to thunderstorms and other potentially hazardous conditions that are good to keep in mind.
How Rain Affects Your Golf Game
The worst (and arguably also the best) part of playing golf in the rain is it challenges you as the golfer to adjust your strategy to the conditions. This can be extremely frustrating but is also a great way to improve your overall skills.
The four primary areas of skill that rain will affect are:
- Your concentration.
- The grip on your clubs.
- The distance the ball will travel.
- Your control over the ball.
It’s normal for golf scores to look a little higher than expected when the conditions involve rain. Concentration can falter because most golfers have difficulty balancing their focus on playing the course (especially the more challenging ones), strategy against their opponent, and the unfavorable weather.
Eighteen holes of golf can feel like forever in the best of conditions, so the addition of rain only makes it worse. Though it’s easier said than done, the best way to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed with frustration is to have a bit of patience.
Don’t beat yourself up after a bad shot or two, and remember that playing in harsh conditions will only help you improve your overall golf game.
The Grip on Your Clubs
One of the most apparent struggles that come with golf in the rain is the lack of grip due to wet hands and gloves. Even though clubs are fitted with grips, the wet conditions still make it difficult to hold them while you swing.
Just as your hands will lose grip in the rain, your feet will too. The wet grass can make it challenging to keep your feet planted and steady. It may be a little easier if you have spiked golf shoes because you can dig into the ground more. However, the slick conditions will still impact your overall grip on both the ground and your clubs.
The Distance the Ball Will Travel
Rainy conditions prevent the ball from flying as far as it will in clear conditions. This is caused by the added humidity in the air when rain is present. The moisture makes the air thicker and causes the ball to meet more resistance during its flight.
When the ball is traveling on the ground, wet conditions can also cause the roll of the ball to be reduced. The wet fairways and greens cause the ball to get caught and plug up, which reduces the distance the ball will roll. The distance issue will be felt most when you’re taking longer shots, typically with your driver, and are relying on the ball to roll a good way towards the hole.
Your Control Over the Ball
The final skill area affected by rain is the control you have of the ball. Rain causes the grooves of your club and the dimples of the ball to get filled with water. This can cause your club head’s contact with the ball to be off. Shots can come off the club in a weird way because the ball essentially slips on the water in the clubhead grooves.
Usually, mud forms from the dirt on the grass when it rains. When mud gets stuck on the ball, it causes it to curve and roll or fly differently than it usually would. The mud on the ball also affects how the ball spins on the ground. Not only will it slow down, but it will roll in a different direction than intended.
If you decide to continue your golf round in the rain, it’s good to keep these considerations in mind. If you expect the game to be more complex and can predict the impact the rain will have on your skills, you will have a better chance of adjusting to the conditions and having a better round.
How Rain Affects the Golf Course
Water from rain causes erosion of the course and can damage the grass and turf it’s played on too quickly. The grass on the course relies on open pockets in the soil for roots to grow. There should be a balance between the number of water pockets and the number that are just air. The air pockets allow water to drain more quickly.
When golfers play in wet conditions, walking on the grass compresses the air pockets and causes the course to take longer to dry out completely. When the grass is saturated, it prevents the roots from getting any air and causes them to die. Walking on the saturated grass only worsens the conditions because you compress the grass and crush the roots.
Unfortunately, damage done by water doesn’t resolve itself very quickly. Even though the top of the grass may be dried out, there’s a good chance the soil underneath hasn’t dried thoroughly. The grass needs time for gravity to pull the water all the way down through the soil in order for it to be fully dry.
Of course, some courses are designed for the water to drain off of them more quickly. The biggest worry greenskeepers have when it rains is water pooling up and taking longer to drain because of the damage over-saturation does to the grass.
Spring tends to be a difficult time for greenskeepers in some climates because of the high rainfall. The grass doesn’t have time to dry out and, aside from the issues discussed above, is susceptible to fungal growth, damaging the grass or making the playing surface more difficult.
The playing surface is where the most concern comes from a golf course when it rains. However, the golf carts are another consideration that must be taken. The paths for carts could also develop standing water if the rain is heavy and persistent enough.
The standing water can make it too dangerous for carts to drive, and driving them through water can cause damage to the carts themselves. Though they are built to withstand a small amount of rain, most courses won’t allow you to use them if there is too much water. In this case, they will make the course walk-only, which can lead back to the damage to the grass discussed previously.
Golf in a light rain can be a fun way to challenge your golf skills. However, if there is a heavy downpour or lightning, most golf courses will ask you to get off the course for safety reasons.
Standing water and over-saturation can cause damage to the grass that may cause parts of the course to be roped off during certain parts of the year. Golfers should consider their safety and the damage that could be caused to the course if rain is present or in the forecast, since it’s sometimes best to sit it out for better long-term experiences.