How to Play Winter Golf Well

Don’t let a little cool weather stint your golf growth. If you want to improve, you have to keep practicing, and if that means you have to play in the snow, so be it.

Knowing how to play winter golf well is much different than run-of-the-mill summer golf.

You have to dress differently, prepare differently and play differently, but it can be done.

Even if you’re a casual golfer, getting out once it twice in the winter is fun and a great way to get some fresh winter air.

Playing in the winter can help you improve your summer play as well.

Working on tempo and rhythm is paramount when playing winter golf. Transferring what you learned from winter to summer will result in lower scores that season.

Keep this guide handy when the temperatures drop, and the snow accumulates. You’ll have more fun in the winter, and it will help you improve for the upcoming summer season.

winter golf buggies in the snow


Preparing for a low round in winter golf starts in the same place as it does in the summer; your closet.

Choosing wisely here will ensure you have a leg up on the competition. Follow these guidelines so you can be prepared not only for winter weather but any weather that gets thrown your way during an entire round of golf.

Use Layers To Your Advantage

Playing winter golf doesn’t mean buying an oversized winter jacket. To play well, you must be warm and mobile.

Instead of one thick layer, use many thin layers.

This allows for easy adjustment for movement but also temperature control. As you or the day warms up, you can shed layers as needed.

This also helps if a layer gets wet. You can remove it without affecting your core temperature too much.

Don’t forget about your legs; a good pair of long johns can be the difference between chattering teeth and steady hands.


Keep your game tight by overlooking your sense of style slightly. Knowing how to play winter golf well sometimes means function over fashion.

Golf Gloves/Mitts

Your hands are crucial to the success of your golf game. Keep them warm at all costs using either mitts or a hand warmer around your waist.

Winter golf gloves can be helpful, but not when it’s extremely cold, anything below 50°. Only mitts will work in this weather because having your fingers together will help keep residual heat within the mitt.


A great pair of golf shoes are worth their weight in gold. If you’re an avid player, you probably already have a great pair. But are they winter-worthy?

New golf shoes are made to be breathable, lightweight, and very thin. These characteristics are terrible for a winter golf shoe.

Waterproofing is your number one priority for winter golf shoes. Keeping moisture out means you’ll keep the warmth in.

Many shoes are great for winter golf; they just don’t advertise it that way. Look for these attributes, and you’ll still be able to wear them in the summer as well.

  • Waterproof
  • Long tongue
  • Interchangeable spikes so you can install extra grippy ones
  • Made from leather or similar material
  • No mesh anywhere on the shoe
  • Half-size larger if you plan to wear a thick socks
golf course covered in snow

Strategy To Shoot Low Scores

We all know how critical the mental game is to golf. To play winter golf well, you’ll have to extend your mental game even further. Implement these minor changes to allow your mind to adapt and thrive in wintery conditions.

Extend Your Warm-Up

Your muscles will be tight and much more resistant to twisting and turning. They are also more fragile now, so the risk of injury is higher.

Always warm up with the sweater or clothing you plan to wear on the course. This will allow you to work out any wardrobe malfunctions immediately.

Try these warm-up routines to prepare for winter golf adequately;

  • Comprehensive stretching routine in the locker room before getting dressed
  • Loose swings with two or even three clubs at once
  • Take extra practice swings between each ball on the range
  • Focus on making consistent contact first and foremost
  • Try to gauge how much shorter your shots are traveling

Pro Tip; Spend more time on the practice putting green; this is where you can make up strokes in winter golf.

A golfer looking for his ball in the snow

Review Rule Differences

A golf match can be decided by as little as one stroke. If that stroke comes from a rule oversight, it can be heartbreaking. Know the rules!

Winter Rules Of Golf

Lift, Clean, and Place—The most common of the winter rules allows you to lift, clean, and place your ball even though it’s not on the green.

The rules may differ slightly from course to course, but in general, you are allowed to lift, clean, and place your ball from anywhere on the course (sometimes just the fairway). When replacing, you have a 6-inch radius (sometimes one club length), no closer to the hole.

Take More Clubs

Cold air is denser than warm air, adding more resistance to your ball flight. To counter this, take more clubs.

For every 10° the temperature drops, you can add 2 yards. At least use this as a benchmark and make the necessary changes based on your climate.

To Walk Or Ride

ALWAYS WALK! Taking a power cart will hinder your blood flow and your body’s ability to regulate temperature.

You can either carry or use a push cart. However, a push cart may be out of the question if ample snow is on the ground. For those dedicated to the push cart, look for specialized winter wheels that are made to handle off-road duties.

A golf course in the snow

Equipment Advice

There are a few changes you can make to your equipment to ensure you shoot the lowest scores possible.

Change Your Golf Ball

Cold weather means you won’t get as much distance (more on this later). To counter this, switch to a higher compression ball.

You can also switch to a ball that has a firmer cover. You want to reduce spin to get the most carry possible.

You may want to consider a yellow ball. This will make it much easier to see if you’re playing in any kind of snow.

Adjust Your Golf Clubs

Due to the lack of distance, you should account for that with your clubs if you can.

Many drivers are adjustable now so if you have one like that, increase the loft to get more carry on your drives.

Snowy and wet conditions aren’t great for roll, so you want to keep your ball in the air for as long as possible.

Consider swapping out your hybrid for a 3-wood or 3-iron for a mixture. Conversely, at the bottom of your set, you may want to include a 60° wedge if you have one. This will give you more height to stop the ball on firm, frozen greens.

A golf course in the snow

The Best Golf Bag For The Job

Having a waterproof bag will also save you a lot of angst. Keeping your equipment dry is paramount to good performance, especially your grips.

Waterproof bags mean you can also keep your towels, gloves, hats, etc., dry and ready for use.

Ensure you only have what you need if you plan to carry your bag. This will lighten the load and prevent you from sweating, which will increase your chances of catching a cold.

Stock Your Bag Differently

Bring more towels to combat the ever-changing weather. Snow is just frozen water, so as soon as it touches anything, it will melt and soak into all your gear.

Be sure to bring more than one pair of mitts as well since moisture could cause your first pair to become drenched by the back nine.

The same goes for your hat if rain is in the forecast. It’s never a bad idea to bring an extra sweater or shell just in case something happens to your primary outfit.

Avoid The Booze (Don’t Hate Me)

If you’re out having a fun round with your pals, then go ahead, but if you’re in competitive play or trying to establish a handicap, then leave the whiskey at home.

Your grandfather probably told you that a nip of whiskey will help get the birdie juices flowing and keep you warm but scientifically speaking, it does the opposite.

The warmth you feel from alcohol is actually the increased blood warming the skin. The extra blood cools fast at this level and gets cycled back through your body. This also causes you to sweat, which increases your chances of contracting hypothermia.

Improve Your Game At Its Core

Use these related articles to prepare your game for any weather you encounter, both north and south.

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.