Our recent Twitter poll tells us that just 5% of you think that winter is the best time of year to play golf.
You are wrong.
It is when the game comes into its own, is presented properly and allows all of its virtues to come to the fore.
Apart from winter doesn’t even exist in this country any more. You are as likely to get a poor day in June as you are in November. According to the BBC, July and August are often the wettest months of the year for parts of England and Scotland.
Furthermore the Daily Mail, who are never wrong about anything, Britain is in a climate change sweet spot, and by the end of the of 21st Century we might have as many as 15 days of additional ‘mild weather’.
That means winter is over.
Take a break for Christmas, sure, but there is really no need to hang up the clubs on account of the weather any more.
Let’s consider why winter golf is actually golf at its best:
Winter is the golfer’s spring. I have already started on my winter spring clean. For every golfer worth his salt, winter is a time to ignore reality and start to dream big. You are free from the shackles of a steady stream of .1 increases and you can start to get juiced up over the theory that next season will be your big year. A swing rebuild, an equipment change, a gym regime. This is the bit I love, the process of improvement, the tantalising notion that you might get better. Winter allows you forget reality and focus on the dream.
Courses are set up exactly how they should be. Shortened, no rough, preferred lies, ideally bunkers that are GUR. Golf is too hard for all of us. Winter rights the wrongs of course set up and makes the game much more fun. Bad lie? Just tee it up. That out-of-reach par 4? Shorn off 40 yards and it is now a drive and a mid-iron. Sick of looking for your ball in the rough? Just play in December, there isn’t any.
Competitions are non-qualifiers. Or rather they are reductions only. Hallelujah! Again, exactly how it should be, incentivise people improve, and to play in competitions. Let them the loose of the doom of .1 and get them shooting for the stars. All competitions should be reductions only with an annual adjustment ‘up’ for those failing to record a score at their handicap. Reduces admin, increases fun and gets rid of the stress of medal golf. Another tick for winter.
Winter kit is amazing. Bobble hats, base layers, mittens, those warm tea bag things, proper socks, digging out your spikes. Who doesn’t love kit? Winter means more of it, more technical ‘stuff’. The feeling of pulling on the correct attire, getting your layering just right, is one of life’s great pleasures. Summer is one long nightmare of moobs and sweat patches, give me a plethora of man-made fibres and a beanie any day.
A crisp winter’s day. Get out early and you have stolen one against the head. You are not supposed to be out there playing, you are supposed to be inside feeling gloomy, but you have done it you have played 18 holes in three hours in glorious conditions. You, my friend, are one of life’s winners.
Finally, consider this: Perhaps in winter there is actually the correct amount of daylight. My friend and colleague Dan Murphy used to go on a regular trip to Hunstanton and Brancaster at the start of December. We played 36 at Hunstanton and 18 the following day at Brancaster.
To get 36 in you have to tee off at first light, approximately 8am. You can’t hang around; get round in three hours, soup, sandwiches and an Adnams and back on the tee again by 12. This gives you just enough daylight to sneak in another 18 guided home by the light of the clubhouse. A pint in your hand by 3.30pm then.
Sounds dangerous, but what it also means is you have concluded your night out business. Six pints and a curry by approximately 8pm. Allowing for 11 hours sleep and another early start the next morning. If I can play 36 holes, have six pints and a curry what need is there for any more daylight?
Winter then is golf’s greatest strength, it is what separates us from cricket, tennis and all the other summer-only sports.
Get out there and celebrate it.