By Matt Hombach
While the past few winters in Baltimore have been long, snowy and cold, locals normally enjoy some milder or at least bearable days throughout the winter months. Regardless, more and more golfers are braving cooler temperatures and teeing it up almost every month of the year in Baltimore.
Offseason golf offers less crowded courses and cheaper green fees. But one thing golfers detest about teeing it up in cold weather is the vibration in their hands after a bad shot. The "stinging" is caused by cold ground being struck by a cold club held in cold hands.
Frank Blind, PGA professional at Fox Hollow Training Center in Timonium, advised golfers the best way to play pain-free golf in the winter months is focusing on making solid contact, and keeping your hands, golf balls and clubs as warm as possible.
"Good ball-striking won't hurt your hands at all, but the stinging sensation golfers experience in cold weather is caused by a bad hit or the club hitting the ground," said Blind.
The pain of the vibration is magnified when blood vessels are constricted due to the cold. Blind advised golfers wear mittens with chemical warmers between shots to keep hands from getting cold.
His experience working in cold weather at local horse racing tracks when he was younger offers more suggestions.
"If you look at the underside of your wrist, you can see where arteries and veins flow to your hands," he said. "You need to keep this part of your wrist covered and warm so the blood flowing to your hands is shielded from the cold. The best thing I've found to warm this area is sweatbands like basketball players use."
The wristbands also allow hands and fingers full range of motion and more feel, unlike heavier insulated gloves.
Blind also pointed out the importance of keeping equipment warm before and during a round. Cold golf balls don't fly as far as warm ones, and it can take them a long time to warm up after being exposed to cold. Many golfers make the mistake of storing their golf bags in the trunk of their car overnight before a winter round. The frozen Top Flights can take hours to warm.
Besides storing your bag indoors, Blind advised keeping two or three balls warm during the round by stowing them in your mittens between shots or in your pockets. Rotate to a new ball every hole to make sure you are playing with a "warm egg." PGA Tour pros are fanatical about always putting a new, warm golf ball in play. They feel it gives them more distance off the tee and more feel around the greens.
Planning ahead and keeping your body and equipment warm throughout the round means Baltimore golfers can enjoy more time on the greens improving their games.
It beats waiting for spring.
Issue 156: December 2010