There's an old Scottish expression. "If there's nae wind, it's nae golf." A variety of wind conditions and a breeze make a big difference in how to play any shot. A strong wind at your back, for example, can help you hit the green of a par five in two shots; the same wind in the face might make three shots almost impossible.
To score your best, you must respect and understand the wind's effect on the ball. Here are the basics.
The toughest wind is the one that blows directly into your face. Knowing that you'll lose some distance, usually you swing harder, which compounds the wind's effects by creating a bad shot.
Instead of letting the wind beat you psychologically, determine how much distance you're giving up, take enough extra club and concentrate on making solid contact. Don't be shy about taking enough stick. A good rule of thumb is to add one club for about every 10 miles per hour of wind. For example, if you're looking straight into a 30 mph gale, take three more clubs; if the shot is a 7-iron in no wind, hit a 4-iron. Be sure to make a smooth swing.
A headwind also magnifies the curve of a slice or fade, so be sure to allow for it. The stronger the wind, the greater effect on your shot. A right-to-left hook or draw travels on a lower trajectory, so its flight is less affected by headwind.
Teeing off with a wind behind you would seem to be ideal: The ball will stay in the air longer for more distance. But a following wind will bring the ball down on a shallower angle than normal, so it will come in "hot'' and roll more than usual.
There are two methods for handling a crosswind: Either work the ball into the wind, e.g. hit a left-to-right shot into a right-to-left breeze, or let the wind do the work. The latter method is easier.
Plan on the ball shifting approximately five yards for every 10 miles per hour of wind speed. For example, aim about 10 yards left of your target when hitting through a 20 mph, left-to-right crosswind.
Remember that a crosswind will effect the shape of the shot, which should have some bearing on your aim. Depending on the direction of the wind, it will either increase or decrease the amount of bend on a fade or draw.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.