Winter Golf on an Empty Course, Plus the Best Winter Golf Gloves

Joe was out doing errands last Sunday. He drove past a public course in the town next to the one we live in, saw that there were only a few cars in the parking lot, and guessed correctly that they must belong to people he knew.

The cars belonged to Tim, Doug, Mike A., and me (plus the kid behind the desk in the golf shop). We’d already finished eighteen, but Joe borrowed a hat from me and clubs from everyone, and joined us for a few bonus holes. The course was the only one still open in our immediate area, yet nobody at all had played it the day before, and nobody but us had shown up that morning. The kid charged us half-price.

The temperature was below freezing, but there was hardly any wind, and after we’d played a couple of holes we were so hot we took stuff off. The great thing about winter golf is that your drives run forever, and if the greens are frozen you can practice the kinds of run-up shots that come in handy in Scotland and Ireland.

Mike A. had some Tommy Armour Silver Scot golf balls, which he had dug up somewhere. One cracked when he hit it—because it was frozen, we assumed:

But then a second one cracked, too:

The cracks may explain why not even Tommy Armour III plays Tommy Armour balls. (The only reviewer on Amazon complained about cracking, too, and gave them one star—maybe overly generous.) We had the course completely to ourselves until a single guy showed up and somehow got ahead of us. We waited for him on every hole!

Tim and I both wore my favorite winter gloves, Winter Xtreme, by HJ Glove. They’re thick but flexible, and they have nice grippy silicone webbing on the palms and fingers.

If the day had been ten degrees colder, I’d have worn a pair of rain gloves underneath them. But for 29 degrees they were plenty.

These Are Still the Best Winter Golf Gloves — Plus Other Apparel News

xtreme

My friends and I haven’t been able to play golf in about a month now, so I’ve been wearing my winter golf gloves mainly to walk the dog. The ones I like best are still Winter Xtreme, by HJ Glove. They’re thick but flexible, and they have nice grippy silicone webbing on the palms and fingers. And Amazon has them in stock—something that hasn’t always been true. Meanwhile, our improved-and-personalized Jägermeister sweatshirts are back from the embroiderer:

jagersweatshirt

We went to 1st and 10, our favorite sports bar, to hand them out, and also because it was 50-cent-wings night. Totally coincidentally, the owner of the bar was handing out Jägermeister jerseys with the name of the bar on them to guys on a bowling team that he sponsors:

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When he saw that we were, in effect, Jägermeister brothers, he gave us jerseys, too. So when I went to Stop & Shop on the way home, to buy milk, baked beans, corn meal, and eggs, I was wearing two Jägermeister shirts, one on top of the other. And then a couple of days later the embroiderer finished our winter hats:

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Now all we need is grass.

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The Best Winter Golf Gloves

The glove storage section of my mobile locker room.

The glove storage section of my mobile locker room.

I own many golf gloves. I keep most of them in the trunk of my car, which I think of as my mobile locker room, and I use their Velcro closures to stick them to the trunk’s carpet-like liner—a trick I learned from my golf buddy Billy. The rain gloves and winter gloves, which are black, look a little like the sleeping bats that used to hang upside down from the roof of my garage.

For winter golf, I always used to just wear rain gloves, and on really cold days I would wear two pairs, one on top of the other. But this year I bought several pairs of actual winter gloves, made by FootJoy and Snake Eyes. The FootJoy gloves, which are called WinterSof and cost $20 a pair at Golfsmith, look like this:

fj wintersof

The Snake Eyes gloves, which are called Cool Weather Gloves and cost $13 a pair at Golfsmith, look like this:

snake eyes

Two of the four Golfsmith customer reviews of the Snake Eyes gloves mention crummy stitching, which is a problem I haven’t noticed with mine. I have found that my FootJoy gloves are slightly warmer. (In a recent scientific trial, I wore both kinds, one right and one left, and switched at the turn.) I like the grippy silicone webbing on the palms and fingers of the Snake Eyes gloves, even though the silicone feels creepy when I hold something made of metal, like a club shaft. I’ve worn both kinds, without incident, while walking the dog with my wife.

At the PGA Golf Merchandise Show a year ago, I tried some winter gloves I liked a lot, although I’ve never actually played in them. They’re call HJ Winter Xtreme, and they’re made by a 40-year-old Korean company called HJ Glove. They’re hard to find online—Golfsmith and Edwin Watts don’t carry them, and Amazon, at the moment, is out of stock in all sizes—but based on my brief indoor test a year ago I’d say that, at least theoretically, they combine some of the most appealing features of the FootJoy and Snake Eyes gloves: tall cuffs, grippy silicone stuff, extra warmth.

hj extreme

My friend Tim recently pointed out that rain gloves and winter gloves tend to wear out first in the thumbs. This is especially true if your swing isn’t everything it could be—holes in golf-glove thumb pads are usually a consequence of mid-swing re-gripping or some other bad habit—but rain gloves and winter gloves are made of stuff that isn’t as tough as leather, and they wear out faster no matter who’s wearing them. Because of what Tim said, I got the idea of buying some little iron-on patches and using them to reinforce my winter gloves, by turning the gloves inside out and ironing one carefully trimmed patch onto the inside of each thumb. I kept the patches in a pile of stuff on my desk, and they were constantly getting in my way. Then I forgot about them. Last week, I suddenly remembered them but couldn’t find them anywhere. Oh, well. I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to ironing them on anyway.

Speaking of gloves: when I was in Oslo in August (researching a non-golf article for the January 21, 2013 issue of The New Yorker), I took a tour of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, at the edge of the Oslo Fjord. Among many other things, I saw a bird costume intended for an upcoming performance of the opera “Flaggermusen.” It had been stitched together from dozens of yellow dish-washing gloves, whose dangling rubber fingers resembled feathers. Maybe my wife would be interested in making something similar from my old golf gloves:

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