It was exactly 5:11 p.m. on Saturday and the heavens opened up on The Masters. Along with the downpour, a fascinating subplot was hatched on how the best pros handle sudden weather changes. Commentator Dottie Pepper, said that you need to just play through it like nothing was happening. Rory McIlroy was on #13 hitting his second shot into the par-5 from a perfect position, and pulled it way left into the azaleas. They switched coverage to Patrick Reed getting dumped on behind the green at #12. He had a straight forward chip, which he blew by the hole and missed the par putt coming back. The weather clearly affected these guys, but what could they have done to handle it better? How about you?
My last round two years ago was in late November at my local muni. It started off sunny and 70 degrees but steadily grew colder and windier through the round. I knew this was in the forecast, but on #18 mother nature freaked out and sleet started pouring down and blowing sideways. I was unprepared and went into total golf shock, and my game collapsed. Earlier in the same season we were playing at Barefoot in Myrtle Beach and remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie were in the area. In retrospect, I was better prepared and handled that with ease. What is the reason for weather shock, and what can you do?
Shock clearly happens because your mind is on cruise control. Rory had just nutted a perfect tee shot and was playing in an exquisite rhythm. You can see when these guys are rolling that everything about their pre-shot routine is the same, from the way they take off and put on their gloves to the way they check yardage and discuss shots with their caddies. The weather change is a sudden distraction and crushes routines. When Rory yanked that approach way left, he was probably over the ball thinking, “Should I dry my grips? Has my guy got the umbrella ready? I can feel the rain hitting my back.” Reed was getting drenched and you could tell he was thinking about it after he missed his putt. He just wanted to quickly tap in and get dry.
I have found that physically preparing for the condition before it hits is the solution. Get your game and routine actively into the situation. At Barefoot, I knew we were going to get rain, but just didn’t know when. I started the round with my waterproof rain vest on and playing with one rain glove on as well. I had the other rain glove in my pocket. When the deluge came, I just pulled out the other glove and carried on without breaking routine. Now, it pays to have the proper equipment. For example, you don’t want to be playing with a full rain jacket on in 80 degree weather and high humidity just waiting for the storm to hit. That’s why I had the half-sleeve vest and rain gloves in play, but you get the idea.
One other point that Dottie made was critical. You don’t want to be playing or interacting with folks who complain about the weather, especially in adverse conditions. This will ruin your concentration. Sometimes it’s unavoidable but if the sudden change comes, I usually try to keep a bit away from the whiners.
Got any other tips for staying on point when weather hits? Please share and play well!