Golf is one of the best games in the world as it is the only sport in the world where players are subject to natural topography, uneven playing surfaces, and, most importantly, mother nature.
When signing up for a tee time, you never know what kind of conditions you are going to be subject to; this is what makes the sport so dynamic.
Being able to handle conditions like wind and rain is important for recreational players, but more so, the top players in the world need to truly handle what nature throws at them, day in and day out.
To learn from these great players, we have put together this article that talks about the three best golfers in wind and rain.
In this article, we will explore the following:
- How Tom Watson Mastered The Elements To Win Five Open Championships
- Ben Hogans – The Hawk
- How Tiger Woods Mastered The Art Of Playing Well In Wind And Rain
- 3 Tips To Help You Score Better In Wind And Rain
Let’s put on the rainsuit and get to it!
Tom Watson – Arguably one of the best golfers in Wind and Rain
Coming in at the very top of our list is as one of the best golfers in the rain and wind is none other than the second most prolific Open Champion himself, Tom Watson.
Throughout his historic career, Watson racked up an impressive five Claret Jugs and almost picked up a historic sixth win at the 2009 Open before Stewart Cink took down the 60-year-old in a three-hole playoff.
The weather on the Open side of the pond can flip on a dime without any notice.
To be this prolific winner in Great Britain and Ireland, Watson has to be able to successfully battle the elements repeatedly and knows a thing or two about playing in adverse conditions.
Following Watson’s historic Open Run, Golf Digest caught up with him to see if he had any tips for playing in the rain and wind; below is what he says he had to do to be successful in bad weather:
- In the rain, wrap a handkerchief around the grip. – If your grips get wet while on the course, you might as well head in for the day. Even the best players in the world can’t play with wet grips, and you can’t either.
- Keep your club covered as much as possible. – Hopefully, you are prepared with your umbrella if there is any chance of rain. Make sure you put it to work on the course by keeping your clubs covered as much as you can.
- Put another dry hand towel in the base of your bag. – This is a tip that we have never thought of, and it is truly genius.
- The new simulated suede gloves are great for gripping in the rain. – Tom here is talking about new rain gloves. They are essential for playing quality golf in adverse conditions.
- When hitting from wet turf, be sure you’re on solid footing. – Make sure when on wet ground to swing easily to ensure proper footing. It is not a bad idea to make an effort to limit leg action through the ball when conditions are slick.
- From the wet turn, swing your irons on a shallower (flatter) plane – Swinging on a flatter plane helps you pick the ball off the turf in wet conditions. Getting steep when things are soggy is not a good combination and can be the cause of a lot of fat shots.
- A good rain suit is a must – Tom prefers a suit that is lightweight, noiseless, and breathable to give you freedom to swing the club.
- Flighting the ball helps, but the most important thing about windy conditions is hitting it solid – Throughout his career, Tom was always a high-ball hitter, and he didn’t try to change that identity during the Open. He talks all the time about hitting the ball solid, as a high and heavy ball flight is more important than a low and soft one.
So there you have it, tips from a five-time Open champion who is one of the best golfers in rain and wind. Put these great tips to use, and you can play just like Watson when Mother Nature throws curveballs at you.
Ben Hogan – The Hawk
A player from several generations ago who stands to teach us a thing or two about playing in adverse conditions in Ben Hogan. Coming from an era of persimmon-headed woods and leather-wrapped grips, Hogan was truly out there with only his clubs and willpower when conditions got tough.
This was seen exponentially at the 1953 Open Championship held at Carnoustie Golf Links, where he proved to be one of the best golfers in rain and wind.
Being known as one of the most demanding links courses in the Open rotation, Carnoustie is a formidable challenge even in good conditions.
That week, in 1953, the weather at Carnoustie was nothing short of brutal as torrential rains turned the fairways into soggy quagmires and bunkers into muddy pits.
In addition, a cold wind also howled all week off of the North Sea, forcing competitors to battle a challenging course as well as Mother Nature.
Known for his unrelenting ball striking, Hogan could pick the ball off of the soggy soil to perfection all week. He hit cut shots into right-to-left winds when necessary and hit draws to model when faced with a breeze from left to right.
During his era, no one was better from a ball-striking perspective, which is vital in bad weather.
The championship climaxed on the 72nd hole, where Hogan faced a 1-iron approach over a berm with out-of-bounds left. In addition to these physical hazards, a strong breeze off the North Sea and torrential rain also fell.
In Hawk-style fashion, the elements could not bother Hogan as we smoked with 1-iron precisely within a few feet of the pin to win his first and only Open Championship. Proving again that he is one of the best golfers in rain and wind.
Tiger Woods – The G.O.A.T.
It would be a shame to list the best players ever in rain and wind without including Tiger Woods.
Throughout the game’s history, there have not been many other players to rival Tiger’s mental toughness and resolve, making another one of the best golfers in rain and wind.
Playing in rain and wind requires mental toughness from when the player arrives on the property to when they sink the final putt on eighteen. In addition to these mental skills, bad weather requires the player to execute world-class ball striking to navigate the course.
Tiger exhibits all these qualities, from mental toughness to exceptional ball striking; it is hard to find anyone who was better throughout history.
Tiger Woods’ ability in challenging conditions is evident throughout his career. He demonstrated his unrelenting skills during the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, where he secured victory by an impressive 15-shot margin amidst relentless rain and winds.
Additionally, his triumph in the 2022 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, held under torrential rains and on waterlogged fairways, further shows his ability to excel when the going gets tough.
3 Practical Tips: Become One Of The best golfers in Wind and Rain
We all have things to learn from the above legends of the game regarding adverse weather conditions.
Tom Watson gave us some excellent tips for rain that we will certainly be putting into play when things get challenging. I know three tips will help you succeed in rain and wind.
Tip #1: When it’s Breezy, swing easy
We know this saying sounds very cliché, but it is true. In high-wind situations, the one thing that you want to do to be successful is take spin off of the ball.
One effective strategy is swinging slower, which will fly the ball down and reduce spin.
Tip #2: Don’t Take the Club Out of the Bag Until the Very Last Second
In rainy conditions, use your golf bag to your advantage. Sometimes, you will see players standing around with a club in their hand getting wet, while this can be easily avoided by simply leaving the club in your bag until it is your turn to play.
Tip #3: Use a compass to Gauge Wind Direction
Nothing is worse than getting the wind direction wrong on a shot, which can cause huge misses. One thing that can help mitigate this is looking at the weather forecast before you play and using a compass to get the wind direction exactly.
Wind below the trees typically swirls and can be misleading. The wind that hits your ball is typically above the trees, where it doesn’t swirl.
3 Best Golfers In Wind And Rain: Key Takeaways
Playing golf is fantastic for many reasons, but you are one with Mother Nature. Golfers go out hoping for the best with their weather draw; sometimes, it is marvelous, while sometimes, they find themselves fighting tooth and claw to get their ball in the hole.
Great champions of the game, such as Tom Watson, Ben Hogan, and Tiger Woods, mastered the art of playing great golf in bad weather conditions. There are lessons to be learned from how they played golf, and they are genuinely the best golfers in rain and wind.
Use the tips that Watson and we have given you to make your next loop in the rain and wind the best yet!