When I was in high school, just like almost every high school boy golfer, tryouts for the team were always in February. I live in North Carolina, so while the weather could be much worse and at least we were getting to play, it was always in the 30s and really wet dormant grass, and often raining. And then we would soon thereafter start practice, and the conditions would continue to be very difficult.
But the thing is, I absolutely loved it.
And I feel that this separated me from my peers and competition. The ability to be in love with golf, even through difficult conditions, is one of the best ways to play good when everyone else is suffering and being negatively affected through the same thing.
Players often ask me “how can I mentally deal with this terrible weather?” And I think this is exactly it. Lean into the conditions, don’t flinch away from them.
So how can you learn to love adverse conditions in practice or on the course? One great way that I used when I was a highly competitive player was what I’ll call the “chip on the shoulder” method. Just the simple knowledge that other players hated bad weather gave my pride a little boost.
Pride isn’t usually thought of as a strength, but when it comes to having a mental edge over other players, being proud of your own ability, or loving your own work ethic and golf game, can be a huge mental edge.
So when I knew other players were hiding inside when it was cold, or desperately trying to keep everything dry with futility when it was raining, I knew that my embrace of the conditions gave me that leg up.
Another way that I could get myself to practice in nasty weather is because I knew that I can’t control what the weather at a tournament will be. If it’s 43° and windy, and you know that practicing would be miserable, but you also know that it’s possible that a tournament could be played in this weather, then you need to practice in it and be prepared for it. If you are more prepared than others in certain conditions, then that’s one more advantage you can have over other players. Even if that saves you one shot a round, I bet at the end of a four round tournament you’d take 4 shots lower in a heartbeat.
And the even bigger principle to all of this is that the very resilience you’re showing by practicing in bad weather or leaning into rough condition when you’re playing builds you up to be able to handle any adversity, not just weather. Resilience is a foundational trait that can positively affect every aspect of your game, and life.
So get out there when it’s gross. And when you’re playing in bad weather, lean into it. Embrace it. It will help you play better now, next time it’s gross, and ultimately make you a mentally stronger player.