While most of us much prefer playing golf in the warm sunshine, there are times when we’ll find ourselves teeing it up in the rain.
Sometimes it’s by choice (you looked at the forecast and despite there being rainclouds about, decided to play anyway) and sometimes there’s no way to avoid it (such as when the heavens open during a competition or tournament).
Regardless of whether you’re playing golf in the rain by choice or otherwise, in order to perform well and shoot a low score – and stay comfortable and dry during your round – there are certain adjustments you need to make to your strategy/technique, and some important pieces of equipment and attire that are required.
Below is a 16-step checklist you should tick-off in order to play good golf in the rain.
Equipment for playing golf in the rain:
- Waterproof clothing
- Golf bag rain hood
- Cleaning towel/groove brush
- Wet weather gloves (optional)
- Push cart (optional)
Tips for playing golf in the rain:
- Adjust your expectations
- Stay patient
- Take extra club
- Play more bump-and-runs
- Make practice putts pre-round
- Know local course rules
- Use extra speed in bunkers
- Take a spare scorecard
- Stay hydrated
- Don’t give up
Keep reading to find out why this equipment is essential, and how these tips can help you play better golf when it’s raining.
Can you play golf in the rain?
Golf can be played in almost all weather conditions, including rain. If you are going to play golf in the rain, you’ll need appropriate waterproof attire and equipment to help keep you dry. You’ll also need to adapt your strategy and club selection because the ball won’t fly or run as far when it’s raining.
So, what gear do you need to play golf in the rain? And what changes should you be factoring into your on-course decision making? Let’s take a look.
Equipment you need for wet weather golf
Playing golf in the rain isn’t easy. Sometimes, all the wet weather gear in the world can’t stop you getting damp if the rain is torrential (when that happens, it’s likely play will stop anyway).
But golf can be, and is, played in moderate rain – and in order to stay as dry and comfortable as possible, there are certain items every golfer needs to have.
It seems obvious, but a good quality umbrella is arguably the most essential item you need to play golf in the rain.
However, if you’re going to purchase one, don’t skimp on price or quality.
Cheap umbrellas are far less effective at keeping rain out, and far less sturdy and stable meaning they are more likely to turn inside out and break at the hint of the slightest gust of wind.
While they may be a touch more expensive, a high-quality, double canopy umbrella will last you forever and keep you dry – it’s better to fork out for one straight away, rather than buying three or four cheap umbrellas that keep breaking and end up costing you more in the long run anyway.
Something like the Titleist Tour Double Canopy Golf Umbrella (pictured) would be perfect.
As equally as important as an umbrella is waterproof clothing, which can come in many forms.
You can browse through all the different apparel easily online.
But the most important thing to note is you should be purchasing waterproof not water-resistant clothing, because there’s a big difference.
Water resistant apparel blocks out light rain, but anything heavier than a passing shower will soon soak you.
Waterproof clothing is designed to block out rain entirely.
Rain hood for your bag
One of the worst things than can happen when playing golf in the rain is your clubs getting soaked.
Once they’re wet, they become harder to grip and that makes it extremely hard to maintain a consistent, smooth swing.
The way to avoid this is to purchase a relatively cheap golf hood, which is a simple, waterproof piece of material that clips to the top of your bag and prevents your clubs from getting wet.
Something like the Longridge Storm Golf Hood (pictured) won’t break your bank, and will do the job just fine.
Cleaning towel/groove brush
When playing golf in the rain, one thing is for certain – your clubs are going to get dirty and muddy.
In order for your clubs to perform the best, the grooves need to be clean and the only way to do that is by cleaning the gunk out using a groove cleaning brush and then wiping them down with a towel.
There are combined towel/brush kits on Amazon – both of which clip onto your bag for ease of use – that are perfect and quite cheap.
Wet weather gloves
While these are certainly optional and not everyone’s cup of tea, wet weather gloves can be extremely helpful when playing golf in the rain.
Wet weather gloves, which are typically sold in pairs to be worn on both hands to ensure maximum effectiveness, are fashioned using a rubbery material – different to a dry-weather leather glove – that gives them more grip and prevents them from becoming slippery when soaked from water.
As a result, you’re less likely to have the club slip out of your hands during your swing, resulting in better ball striking and, hopefully, better scoring.
The added bonus is that they’ll help keep both hands warmer during cold, wet days.
It’s probably a good idea to carry a few pairs, too, so you can swap them out if they get too damp.
Something like the FootJoy Men’s Rain Grip Golf Gloves (pictured) will be adequate.
You may be thinking ‘why do I need a push cart to play in the rain?’ – but hear me out.
When you’re playing golf in the rain, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to carry your bag and umbrella at the same time – when you arrive at your ball, you have to put both on the ground and, if it’s windy, you’ll spend half your round chasing after your umbrella.
Using a push cart with a holder lets you secure your umbrella in place and forget about it – not only will this help keep the rain off you, but also stop your umbrella from being blown away.
Playing tips for wet weather golf
Now that you know what equipment you need to play golf in the rain, it’s time to explore what changes you need to make to your game in order to excel in wet weather.
Playing golf in the rain is very different to playing when it’s dry – it’s harder (obviously), can take longer, be more frustrating and more uncomfortable.
But all those negatives aside, it can also be extremely rewarding if you go out and shoot a good score in tough conditions.
To help you do that, below are a few helpful tips to remember when playing in the rain that will assist you greatly.
Adjust your expectations
If you arrive on the first tee with the mindset you’re going to shoot 44 stableford points or beat your handicap by six shots, you’re really setting yourself up for failure.
Wet weather golf is no walk in the park, and it’s far, far harder than playing in dry, favourable conditions.
The chances of you shooting a career-best round are low, and if you start focusing too much on scoring – especially if you have a few bad holes – you’ll soon get frustrated and your game will suffer.
Instead, you should take one hole at a time, remember your routines, and the scoring will take care of itself.
And if the end result isn’t as good as you’d hoped, don’t beat yourself up – golf in the rain isn’t meant to be easy.
Rounds of golf in the rain take longer to complete – that’s a fact.
The time it takes to do little things like wiping down the grip of your club before each shot, cleaning your grooves, and opening up and putting down your umbrella as conditions change all add up over the course of 18 holes.
And the poor conditions likely mean the group in front of you will be slow too, meaning you’ll probably be waiting longer to take each shot.
Instead of getting impatient – which leads to bad decisions – accept the round is going to take longer, and remain as calm as you can.
Having a clear, and not aggravated, mind will produce better results.
Take extra club
Just as the ball flies farther when it’s hotter, rain has the opposite effect and makes your ball fly shorter.
It’s important over the first couple of holes to monitor how your ball is reacting in the conditions, and how much shorter it is travelling through the air – this information can inform future decisions during your round.
For example, if you normally hit your 8-iron 160 yards (145 metres) and the distance to the pin is exactly 160 yards – but your ball has been travelling five yards less than usual – consider taking a 7-iron to cover the gap.
Play more bump-and-runs
Lots of rain will make the fairways and rough slushy and muddy, which makes chipping with lofted wedges (such as a gap wedge, sand wedge or lob wedge) a lot more difficult.
Many mid-handicap players – especially those who struggle with finding the low-point in their swing consistently – will find themselves hitting the ball fat as the leading edge digs into the soft turf.
A good way to avoid this is to play bump-and-run chips with a 7 or 8 iron instead of a wedge, as the wider soles of these clubs give you a far bigger margin for error and will make it less likely for you to chunk it.
If you really have the yips around the greens, you could even consider adding a chipper to your bag, which will make getting up and down in the wet a breeze.
Learn more about the bump-and-run by reading our in-depth article on how to play it.
Make practice putts pre-round
Getting the pace of the greens while it’s raining can be extremely difficult, and lead to lots of three putts on the course.
Before your round, take some time to make a few putts on the practice green as this will give you a good indication of how fast the surface is, and how much extra pace you’ll need to give your putts.
Know local course rules
Courses often employ ‘preferred lie’ rules in wet conditions, which allows you to mark your ball, clean the mud off it, then replace it on the ground.
Similarly, you should read-up on the USGA’s casual water rule, which states that when a ball comes to rest in “water that has accumulated temporarily and does not constitute a recognised hazard of the course, a player may move the ball from the water without penalty”.
Balls that have become embedded in the turf (often from a tee shot) may also be moved for no penalty, provided your player partners agree that the ball is deemed to be embedded.
Use extra speed in bunkers
During wet weather, bunkers that would otherwise be filled with light and fluffy sand during dry conditions quickly become muddy and gluggy.
As a result, you’ll need to use more speed when playing bunker shots in order to cut through the waterlogged sand and pop the ball out.
If you have time before your round, it’s advisable to hit a few practice bunker shots to get accustomed to the conditions, and determine how much extra speed is required.
Learn the wet bunker technique in the video below:
Take a spare scorecard
Unsurprisingly, paper scorecards don’t like rain – and there’s been many times mine have barely made it through the round after getting soaked with water.
I’d recommend taking an extra scorecard just in case your original gets too wet to write on.
It’s also better to use a pen rather than pencil in wet weather, as a pencil is more likely to tear your scorecard if it’s already a little bit soggy.
When water is falling all around you, it’s very easy to forget to actually drink some from your water bottle.
Dehydration affects your concentration and decision-making abilities, which can impact negatively on your performance.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated during your round, even though it’s raining.
Don’t give up
This is so, so important – especially if you’ve entered in a competition.
You’ll find that many people abandon their round when the rain starts falling, leaving only a handful of competitors left in the field by the end of the day.
If you can stick it out and post a good score, you’re a big chance of finishing high on the leaderboard as other players withdraw.
Golf in the rain can be a challenge, but it can be made a lot easier with the right equipment, and using the correct strategy on the course.
Incorporating the above attire and advice into your game will make wet weather golf far more enjoyable, and improve your chances of shooting a good score.