Never, Ever Take One of These on a Golf Trip to the British Isles

You won't need one of these if you travel to the British Isles to play golf. Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England, May 13, 2013.

You won’t need one of these if you travel to the British Isles to play golf. Royal Lytham & St. Annes, England, May 13, 2013.

I’m in northwestern England playing golf this week. I didn’t bring an umbrella, and I’m glad I didn’t, even though there’s rain in the forecast for every day from now until the end of time. The trash can on the second tee on almost any links course in England, Scotland, and Ireland often looks like the trash can in the photo above, because American golfers typically come to the British Isles prepared for the rain but not for the wind. One hole is usually enough to destroy almost any umbrella. And carrying a “wind-proof” model isn’t the solution, because if your umbrella can’t be turned inside out it will carry you to sea, assuming you’re strong enough to hang on. Here’s why:

Wind-sculpted trees, thirteenth hole, Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Wind-sculpted trees, thirteenth hole, Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

The wind was blowing hard yesterday, but the trees in the photo above look that way on calm days, too. Even scrubby little bushes get squashed in the direction of the prevailing wind. (I first wrote about the terrific golf courses of northwestern England almost twenty years ago. The opening sentence of my article was “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.” A Golf Digest copy editor, who apparently had never heard of Bob Dylan, changed “weatherman” to “weather report”—and that’s the way it ran.)

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Not carrying an umbrella will lighten your luggage by a couple of pounds, and it will spare you a lot of annoying housekeeping while you play. And you won’t miss it at all, if you have a rain suit, a rain hat, and a pair of rain gloves. The rain gloves are especially important, because if you have a pair of those you won’t need to even think about trying to keep your grips dry. In fact, if you have rain gloves you almost don’t need to carry a towel. And after my first trip to Scotland, in the early nineties, I stopped carrying an umbrella at home, too. Way too much trouble!

6 thoughts on “Never, Ever Take One of These on a Golf Trip to the British Isles

    • My favorite rain suit at the moment is by Galvin Green (very popular over here), but it’s ridiculously expensive and I wouldn’t be wearing it if Golf Digest’s clothes guy hadn’t sent it to me to try. I also like the Sun Mountain rain suits, despite the grumbling by the American Ryder Cup team, although they’re expensive, too. The no-name stuff can be just as good, and it’s way cheaper. My best accessory is a pair of farmer-style suspenders, which I ordered from the Vermont Country Store. They keep the pants from sliding down when I stuff wet hands into the pockets. The best rain hat, in my opinion, is the Seattle Sombrero, by Outdoor Research. It’s meant for kayakers, backpackers, and fishermen, and it’s much better than any golf hat I’ve ever tried. Lots of guys at my club have them now. Incidentally, there was a lashing rain storm here this morning, and I did something I’ve never done on a golf trip before: rolled over and went back to sleep. I’m going to play this afternoon, though.

  1. Not true – All you have to do is make sure the umbrella is pointed into the wind.

    I am an expert in this as I have played golf in Ireland for over 30 years!!

  2. Welcome to Lancashire! Hope you had an afternoon round there as well as it’s lovely out now. Where are you playing this time?

    • Lytham, St. Annes Old, Wallasey, Hesketh (yesterday), Formby (today), Formby Ladies, Birkdale, Hillside, Southport & Ainsdale.

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