Good players compensate for a wind in their face or at their back by taking more or less club, respectively, the choice based on the strength of the wind and their experience. Crosswinds, however, affect direction rather than distance and prove troublesome even to the best players.
Any crosswind over 10 miles an hour is likely to alter a shot's performance, particularly high, soft shots. In a strong wind, the smart strategy is to punch a three-quarter 7-iron rather than try to loft a 9-iron or wedge to the green.
For longer shots, the choice is between riding the wind and fighting it. Here's how to master light and strong crosswinds.
Light Wind: "Hold" Shot
You can cancel the effects of a light crosswind -- five to 10 mph -- by working the ball into it: Hit a draw into a left-to-right breeze; hit a fade when it blows right-to-left.
Aim straight at your target. That way, if the wind and ball flight cancel each other out, you'll be stiff. But if the wind picks up a bit or the ball curves slightly more or less than planned, you'll still finish close to your objective.
Strong Wind: "Ride" It
When a heavy crosswind blows (more than 10 mph), you still should curve the ball against the breeze, while also allowing for the stronger gusts to move the ball their way. For example, counter a big right-to-left blow by aiming slightly left of the target and hitting a fade; the wind will bring it back.
Only experience can tell you how far from the target to aim, but you can help yourself by aligning toward a secondary target off to the side.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.