1. Make use of your mat
During the winter months, many golf clubs implement a rule whereby all golfers must play their shots from a mat when on the fairway and/or the 1st cut of the rough. This essential rule is put in place to protect the fairways and light rough during a time of poor growth and recovery and really is non-negotiable. Whilst it may seem like a bit of an inconvenience carrying and playing from a mat for 18 holes, everyone will reap the rewards come springtime when the fairways are looking pristine.
However, it’s not all bad news. Personally, I actually prefer playing from a golf mat during the winter, especially when the ground is really wet and soft as it reduces the chances of fat shots, keeps my golf clubs clean and makes you look like a baller thanks to the extra spin you get. What’s not to love about that?
In my opinion, the key to enjoying winter golf when it comes to using a mat is to invest in a high-quality mat with a rubber base. I’d strongly recommend the Callaway Golf FT Hitting Zone golf mat which I have been using for the past 5 years and genuinely believe is one of, if not the best winter golf mats on the market. And believe me – I’ve tried them all.
Amazon also has a great selection of reasonably priced winter golf mats that might be worth checking out.
2. Carry your clubs if you can
Like many modern-day golfers, I routinely use a golf trolley and cart bag during the main golf season to allow me to carry extra equipment and take the pressure off of my back (I am getting old after all). However, when it comes to the winter months I leave the trolley in the garage and opt for my lightweight carry golf bag and a half set of clubs instead. Trolleys often cause a huge amount of damage to the high-traffic areas of the golf course such as around the greens and teeing areas, especially when the course is wet. Not only does the damage take a considerable amount of time and effort to repair but it also makes the course look worn and unsightly.
Obviously, there are many golfers who are unable to carry their clubs for various reasons, and I’m in no way suggesting they start doing so, but if you are able to carry your clubs during the winter then it’s worth doing so. The greenkeepers, fellow golfers and the course will thank you for it.
3. Respect re-routes
As mentioned above, certain high-traffic areas of the golf course can quickly become worn, slippery or indeed dangerous during the winter. For these very reasons, greenkeepers often cordon off specific sections of the course, mark GUR (ground under repair) areas and re-route walkways, and it’s our job to respect them.
I learned the importance of this one the hard way, having once ignored a sign encouraging golfers to walk around the side of a large slope due to the dangers of slipping. Of course, within a few seconds of passing said sign I slipped and ended up sliding all the way to the bottom of the slope. Not only did I hurt my back in the process but my clubs also ended up in a nearby bunker.
4. Repair those pitch marks
Perched right at the top of my golfing pet hates are those inconsiderate golfers who don’t repair their pitch marks – a sentiment shared by many of you reading this article, I’m sure. Pitch marks should be repaired straight away irrespective of the time of year, however, it’s even more important during the winter months when the greens are soft and the damage from our approach shots is substantial.
Repairing a pitch mark is not a difficult task but it has to be done correctly and should still be done even if you are playing on winter greens. Incorrectly repairing a pitch mark can lead to scarring on the green, further damage and can add weeks to the mark’s recovery. If you’re not sure of the correct way to repair your pitch marks, check out the short but helpful Golf Monthly video tutorial below.
If you’re lucky enough to be playing on full greens during the winter months then be sure to look after them or I can guarantee you won’t be playing on them for much longer.
5. Clean up after yourself
When you finish your round and are cleaning your golf shoes, trolley wheels or whatever else got covered in grass cuttings and mud during your 18, be sure to tidy up after yourself and leave the cleaning area in the same condition you’d like to find it yourself. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched golfers brush or spray the grass and mud off of their shoes and onto the path, then simply walk away leaving it to the greenkeepers (who are already busy enough) to tidy up. It only takes 2 minutes to clean up after yourself and prevents mud from being trodden across the car park or worse still, into the clubhouse/locker room.
So there you have it, 5 simple steps you can follow this winter to help make the lives of your greenkeepers just that little bit easier whilst at the same time improving the playing conditions of the golf course for yourself and fellow members.
If there are any tips you think I’ve missed out from this article then be sure to share them in the Comments area below. If your golf course is moving or has moved to mandatory fairway mats but you don’t own one then be sure to check out my latest blog post ‘5 of the best winter golf mats on Amazon‘ before you splash the cash.