There’s nothing worse. Winter finally gives way to warmer weather and that heat makes you itch to tee it up, so you take a day off, you make a tee time, and you fall asleep dreaming of all the new swing thoughts you conjured in January and February. But when you wake up, it’s raining. Not all is lost though. Playing in the rain is doable with a little preparation, the right gear, and a few on-course dos and don’ts.
On the day you’re playing, even if it’s dry but rain is in the forecast, pack a few extras in your bag before heading out. A couple of towels will help keep grips and hands dry, and consider making one of them an ultra-absorbent chamois. A golf bag with storm flaps on the zippers will allow you to keep wallets, phones, and other personal items dry in inclement weather. At the course, grab an extra scorecard and stick it in a waterproof pocket; if the first one gets too soggy to write on, you’ll need a spare.
In wet weather the rain suit definitely makes the man – or woman. A lightweight water-resistant jacket is good for a light rain or a short soak, but for a serious wet-weather round you need a waterproof rain suit and it’s worth investing in a good one. You should though make sure both jacket and pants are seam sealed and have waterproof zippers. On the jacket, a high collar will make it less likely that rain runs down your neck, and adjustable cuffs will keep water from running up your arms. The pants should slip on easily over your shoes.
As for playing features, look for something that has stretchy fabric to allow full range of motion and drawstrings to adjust the fit. A breathable material will make you more comfortable on warm rainy days, and an interior pocket will offer a shelter in the storm. Overall the fabric should be relatively light and, ideally, not too noisy, lest you end up swishing while you’re sloshing.
The simple seeming golf umbrella has grown more complex in recent years, and that’s a good thing. Most models are 60 or 62 inches, although some oversize models stretch to 68. Top models often feature either strong, durable nylon or a micro-weave fabric.
Structural elements are usually steel or fiberglass; the steel has greater initial strength but the fiberglass flexes and weighs less. Also look for a comfortable, slip-resistant handle.
And why not have some fun with the design? We're up for "Mandatory Golf Friday" rain or shine.
Tip: Precipitation Participation
Once you’re on the course keep in mind that while water in the grooves of your clubs will impart less spin on the ball, making it fly further, the heavy air (regardless of wind) will counteract that effect. Your best bet is to take an extra club and swing easier, so you won’t slip. The wet ground will stop the ball almost as soon as it lands so you’ll need the additional carry.
Wet rough will grab the clubhead, so keep your grip solid and make a firm stroke. On the green, chips and putts won’t roll as far so give them an extra juice. And a wet ball reacts differently off the putter, so hold your umbrella over the ball while lining up, and once you’re set, don’t think about it too long.
And if you hear thunder or see lightning, get to the clubhouse!