We all know that golf is a truly addictive game. When you catch the bug, you want to be on the course as often as possible!
However, the weather doesn’t always work in our favor. While Californians are blessed with almost 300 sunny days each year, rainy days are a reality for many golfers.
That said, do golf courses close for rain?
In this article, you’ll learn whether golf courses stay open in the rain. Or, if you’ll have to wait at home and online shop for that new putter (that you don’t need) instead!
Ready? Let’s begin!
Do Golf Courses Close For Rain?
Usually, golf courses will stay open in the rain. However, they will often close if there is lightning as this poses a safety risk. Some golf courses might also close after a period of heavy rain, allowing the softened turf to recover to prevent any lasting damage.
If unsure, give the club a ring on the morning of your round. They will let you know about their unique policies — such as weather closures and any cart instructions.
How Much Rain Is Too Much For Golf?
While it’s hard to quantify how much rain is too much for golf, you can use your best judgment to decide whether you’re actually going to enjoy the round.
For instance, intermittent showers are tolerable — as are persistent spells of light rain.
However, constant heavy rain is likely to hinder your ability to perform on the course, as it will be difficult to grip your clubs properly. Also, heavy downpours can cause puddles on the greens, making the putting experience a lot worse than usual.
Ultimately, it’s up to you! If the course is open and you’re desperate for a golf fix, give it a try. You can always cut the round short and leave early if it gets excessively wet.
Do Golf Courses Close in Thunderstorms?
Typically, golf courses will temporarily close during thunderstorms. This is because lightning poses a significant safety risk for players out on the open course.
Golf courses in an area of lightning risk — such as those in Florida — will offer golfers a lightning-safe clubhouse to shelter inside during a thunderstorm.
Ultimately, it’s best to avoid the golf course on stormy days! Instead, take the time to practice indoors at a covered driving range, or an indoor simulator.
PRO TIP: If you are caught out on the course during a thunderstorm, don’t stand under tall trees, in the cart, or near water. Instead, seek shelter indoors, or in low-lying areas such as valleys and ditches.
Do Golf Courses Give Rain Checks?
Often, golf courses will give rain checks when the course is closed due to inclement weather before you are scheduled to tee off. Also, rain checks will usually be given if inclement weather lasting more than 30 minutes interrupts your round.
However, rain checks will typically not be given if you have already started your round, and the rain is intermittent. In essence, passing showers won’t warrant a rain check.
According to the tee booking platform GolfNow, reservations adhere to the golf course’s rain check policy. Furthermore, any unplayed reservation can be canceled and refunded if the golf course is closed on the day of play.
Ultimately, it’s up to the policies set by the course itself. If unsure, check with the club beforehand to understand how their weather policies affect play.
How to Play Golf in the Rain
While golf courses will often allow you to play in the rain, the actual experience is very different from your typical dry, sunny day on the course.
Ultimately, how you prepare for a rainy round is very important. Here are a few tips to help you prepare, and play better golf in the rain:
- Bring waterproof gear
- Keep your grips dry
- Watch out for flyers
- Swing faster in the bunkers
- Hit your putts firmer
Let’s dive into each tip in some more detail.
1. Bring Waterproof Gear
Firstly, you need to make sure you bring waterproof gear.
Turning up for 18 holes on a rainy day will soon become miserable if you fail to bring the right equipment! Here are a few essential items to keep you dry on the course:
- Waterproofs: Having a weatherproof, yet breathable, rain jacket and rain pants will keep you dry without getting overly hot as you move around the course. We highly recommend this waterproof jacket and these rain pants.
- Umbrella: An umbrella is equally important, to keep both you and your golf bag as dry as possible on the course. We love this umbrella for golf.
- Towels: On particularly wet days, it’s useful to bring a few towels to keep your hands, face, and club grips dry. I personally love this towel from TaylorMade.
- Hat: Despite being associated with sunny weather, a waterproof cap will keep the rain off your face and hair. Check out this waterproof hat from Titleist.
- Gloves: Finally, a set of weatherproof gloves is vital for keeping your hands comfortable, while allowing you to grip the club properly. These waterproof gloves from FootJoy are awesome for keeping a secure grip and feel.
Also, it’s a good idea to pack a few spare towels and gloves to swap out as they get wet. Nothing feels better than fresh, dry gloves on a cold, wet day!
PRO TIP: Bring a plastic bag to throw in your wet gloves and towels, without getting your other things soaked.
2. Keep Your Grips Dry
Secondly, try your best to keep your club grips dry.
In golf, the grip is so important. If your grips get wet, you’ll naturally struggle to hold onto your clubs as you swing — particularly with your woods and long irons.
To solve this, make sure to have a waterproof cover on your golf bag. This prevents water from getting inside the bag, stopping your grips from getting wet. Alternatively, you can use a golf bag attachment, which holds your umbrella in place over the bag.
Also, dry your hands with a towel before pulling out the club to take the shot. This will help to prevent water from transferring onto the grips.
PRO TIP: Consider investing in a golf bag with a stand, rather than a pencil bag for wet days. Resting a pencil bag on the wet ground is likely to get the grips wet.
3. Watch Out For Flyers
If your ball lands in the rough on a rainy day, you’re likely to encounter a ‘flyer’.
Put simply, a flyer happens when moisture gets trapped between the clubface and the ball at impact. This reduces friction, which in turn reduces spin. As a result, this can often cause the ball to travel further than expected when hitting out of the rough.
To avoid this, consider taking less club than you would usually do. For instance, if you’d normally hit a 7 iron for a 150-yard shot, drop to an 8 iron out of wet rough.
4. Swing Faster in the Bunkers
Another thing to think about on a rainy day is how you play a bunker shot.
In the rain, sand in the bunkers becomes firm and heavy. Because of this, it can play very differently from a dry day — where the sand is often soft and light.
To get the ball out, swing with a higher club head speed than usual. This prevents the club from getting caught up in the heavy sand, enabling you to pop the ball out.
Also, try to avoid opening the clubface as much as you would normally. With the clubface too open, the club head can bounce off the sand and cause thin shots.
Check out the video below by Clay Ballard of Top Speed Golf, where he provides an excellent demonstration of the bunker shot out of wet sand:
5. Hit Your Putts Firmer
With moisture in the turf, greens will inevitably become slower. For this reason, your putts will roll slower, and distance control becomes even more important.
So, you’ll need to hit your putts firmer than you would normally. This will ensure you reach the hole and counteract the extra friction caused by any surface water.
To achieve this, it can help to aim for a spot beyond the hole. This will give you the best chance of getting close to the hole — either dropping in or leaving a tap-in.
PRO TIP: Remember that by hitting your putts firmer, your putts are likely to break less than usual. So, take a slightly more direct line than you would usually.
In summary, many golf courses don’t close for light or intermittent rain. However, they might not stay open during constant downpours, as it can risk damaging the course.
Furthermore, golf courses will almost always be closed during thunderstorms, because lightning poses a serious safety risk for golfers out in the open.
Ultimately, you should check with the club beforehand to learn their policies for adverse weather conditions, as they can vary depending on the course.