In Part I of this article, we doled out several tips for battling your way through a strong crosswind. It’s a daunting task – so daunting that we needed a second article to dispense all our advice. Here’s another handful of hints…
- Ride the wind off the tee: Evil though it can be, sometimes the wind is your friend. Let’s say it’s blowing hard from your left on a hole that favors a fade. A drive that starts at the fairway’s left edge with a smidgen of left-to-right (fade) spin will curl back toward the center, then bounce and roll hard after landing. The same goes for a draw that rides a right-to-left wind. Remember, don’t fight the wind when you can use it to your advantage.
- Consider laying up short of the green: They say discretion is the better part of valor, and it rings true when you’ve got a long approach shot through a crosswind – especially when the wind blows toward trouble. If the distance to reach the green is at or near your limit, you’ll have to pull off a perfect shot to steer the ball to the target and avoid disaster. Instead, why not lay up short of the green, pitch on and take your chances with a par putt? You should walk away with no worse than bogey, without risking a big number.
- Rely on the low punch shot: The knock-down or punch shot isn’t just for playing into the wind. It’s effective in a crosswind, too. The lower your ball flight, the less it will be affected by the wind’s sideways push. Watch this video to learn how to hit this shot, which should be part of every golfer’s repertoire:
- Stay down in a slice wind: It’s a cold, hard fact – the majority of golfers slice the ball. That’s double trouble in a left-to-right crosswind (or right-to-left for the left-handed slicer). If you already aim left to compensate for your shot shape, it’s important that you don’t aim farther left to account for the wind. Why? Because you’ll just exaggerate your over-the-top swing path, hit an even bigger slice and suffer dire consequences. You’re better off aiming just like you would if there were no wind. Consider closing your stance slightly to the target line, and by all means, stay down through the shot. Spinning up and out with the left shoulder will cause a push-slice and compound your problems.
- Factor wind into break on chips and putts: You’d think a rolling ball would be impervious to the wind’s influence. You’d be wrong. A strong crosswind can definitely alter the ball’s roll on the green, especially when the greens are fast. When the wind blows in the same direction as the green’s slope, play a little extra break; subtract break for wind blowing against the break. The longer the putt or chip, the more the wind will affect it.
Playing through a crosswind is mostly a matter of survival and damage control, but you can occasionally take advantage of the right situation. Know when to play it safe, when to be aggressive, and you’ll gain an edge on the field.