Dressing for Golf in Cold Weather

P1100899-001I’m working on a Golf Digest story about dressing for cold-weather golf. Tim, Hacker (real name), and I did some research on Sunday (see photo above). The temperature (21 degrees) equaled the wind speed (21 miles per hour), yielding a windchill factor of -459.67. Among the keys to staying warm was layering. Here are the five layers that Tim wore above his waist:

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There were so many leaves blowing across the greens that trying to clear the line of a putt was usually pointless. Tim said he wished that Edwin Watts or Golfsmith or someone would sell a Tee Gun, like a nail gun, for driving tees into frozen ground:

Tee Gun (artist's conception).

Porter + Cable tee gun (artist’s conception).

Here’s Tim struggling to get a tee in the ground on the eighteenth hole (note the howling of the wind):

Afterwards, we warmed up over cheeseburgers at one of our several winter clubhouses, the G.W. Tavern:

P1100910-001The day before, I’d done some preliminary cold-weather research in New Haven, at the Harvard-Yale football game. It has become traditional, apparently, for residents of Yale’s Saybrook College to take off their shirts for a little while toward the end of the game—a ritual known as the Saybrook Strip. As in most of the schemes that men cook up for getting women to take off their clothes, virtually all of the clothes that were taken off were taken off by men:

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My father was a Saybrook man. As far as I know, this ritual did not exist in his day. He and I did have a Game-related ritual of our own, however. We had a standing five-dollar bet, which the loser paid off in ways that did the winner no good. In 1983, when Harvard won, 16-7, he paid me with a check embedded in a block of Lucite:

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If the Sunday Morning Group used the same payment method, I wouldn’t have been the big loser this past weekend. None of the cash you see in the photo below is moving toward me:

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Nevertheless, it was a perfect day for golf, and you can never be sure how many of those we have left.

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18 thoughts on “Dressing for Golf in Cold Weather

  1. Sadly, the munis in Westchester won’t let you play – generally – on frozen ground. Too bad, those conditions account for my only 300 yard drives!

    • Head a little farther south. All twelve of New York City’s courses stay open through the winter, as long as there’s no snow on the ground. Good courses, too. And tee times are much easier to come by in December, January, and February than they are in July. We’re already planning our New Year’s Day golf outing to Brooklyn or the Bronx.

      • Yeah, Van Cortlandt is open all year. Good potential story for you there, btw. Oldest muni in the United States, and the graves of the Van Cortlandts overlook the 9th green from Vault Hill – across the running trail where all the big northeastern cross country races are held. Yeah, Babe Ruth played there – the NY area golfing equivalent of George Washington slept here – and Robert Moses cut the place up quite a bit. Clubhouse is old school, worth a visit. Usual assortment of characters haunt the place. Recent renovation that I’ve played yet – I used to walk across the Parade Grounds from The Riverdale Press on Broadway, great newspaper where I was managing editor, to play.

  2. An icepick works great for getting those tees into the frozen ground. Playing in temps below 35 degrees is tough, but I agree it’s probably worth it before the snow falls.

    • Also rubber tees meant for range mats. We’ve got some of those, but forgot to take them. I’ve also got adjustable winter tees, similar to range-mat tees, that I got at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando a few years ago.

      • At Dyker Beach, in Brooklyn, my brother and I played with a Korean guy who had a seemingly magical ability to stick tees into frozen ground. It was like something out of the Matrix.

  3. A cheap way would be using water bottle caps as tees but only for teeing off with an iron. I’ve tried those on pitch-and-putts and they work pretty well.

  4. David,

    My father-in-law and I play year-round and living in NYC that task isn’t that difficult. However, we found that our hands would freeze to the quick and we never enjoyed wearing bulky winter golf gloves.

    Watching football last month we came to the obvious conclusion. the hand-muffler.

    We went to Dick’s and purchased two immediately. We stick two “hand-warmers” in the pocket and the muffler is so light-weight and unobtrusive we don’t even need to swing the muffler behind our back while we swing.

    • I like this idea. Nike and Titleist (and probably others) make these. And if the warmer gets in the way of your swing you can slide it around to your butt.

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