Can You (and Should You) Play Golf in The Rain?

What do you do when bad weather strikes on the golf course? Do you immediately head for the clubhouse and call it a day or do you simply pause your round until conditions improve? It can be tough to know what to do in these precarious situations.

What if you have a tee time booked and wake up to a rainy day? Do you stay home or head to the course anyway? We answer these questions and more in this article about playing golf in the rain.

 

Can You Golf While It’s Raining?

Yes, you can still play golf in rainy conditions, as long as there is no lightning in the area. The USGA only demands a suspension of play when there is a sign of imminent danger, the most common of which is a lightning strike. Course officials carefully monitor the weather and will sound the air horn if play must be suspended.

So, as crazy as it may sound, you are free to play a round of golf in a complete downpour. Make sure you are prepared to play in rainy conditions by having all the right accessories and rain gear. We’ll list the most important items to keep on hand during bad weather in one of the sections below.

 

Should You Golf in The Rain?

This is a tough question to answer because it depends on your tolerance for playing golf in less-than-ideal conditions. Golfers who grew up in a rainy climate like the Pacific Northwest are going to be more comfortable in wet conditions than other golfers who are used to hot and dry climates. Playing in wet weather isn’t for everyone and there is no shame in postponing your tee time to another day.

Why is playing in the rain so difficult? Well, some folks simply aren’t comfortable with trying to complete a golf swing in a rain jacket, rain pants, and a pair of rain gloves. All of the added bulk from the extra gear can make the golf swing feel awkward.

Also, in wet conditions, the golf ball comes into contact with lots of mud. This can make it difficult to generate any type of spin on approach shots. Extremely wet fairways can also make it hard to get any type of backspin on your wedge shots into the green.

Lastly, a golfer’s short game suffers greatly in rainy conditions. Trying to hit chips out of wet sand in the bunkers is almost impossible and trying to putt on wet greens is challenging to say the least.

 

How Much Rain is Too Much?

Though there is no official rule on this, most folks agree that if there is any standing water on the golf course, it’s probably too wet to play. However, some courses in drier climates tend to hold water exceptionally well. This is especially true for links-style courses.

If the golf course superintendent finds too much standing water in multiple places, the course will close for the remainder of that day and all tee times will be canceled. This is to protect the course from further damage and to prevent injuries to any would-be patrons.

 

Tips for Playing Golf in The Rain

Playing golf in the rain is a different beast. Luckily, several tips will help you shoot a good score, even in the craziest of conditions. Here are some of the best tips for playing golf in the rain.

1. Make Sure You Have the Right Gear

If there is rain in the forecast, make sure your golf bag is stocked with plenty of rain gear. Extra towels, a rain hood to keep your clubs dry, a waterproof jacket, and a pair of waterproof golf shoes are just a few of the necessities to pack for inclement weather.

Also, waterproof golf bags like the Titleist Players 4 Plus StaDry are nice to have in your battle against the elements. These types of golf bags aren’t cheap but they’ll protect your golf clubs and all of your gear in a rainy downpour.

Use the extra towels to keep yourself dry and to make sure that you have dry grips on each of your golf clubs. It’s also a nice gesture to share these dry towels with your buddies if they forgot to pack one.

2. Don’t Forget Your Spikes

While lots of golfers prefer golf shoes without spikes, that’s not the best idea if rain is in the forecast. On wet grass, the spikes will help your feet dig into the ground and keep your swing balanced. It’s also not a bad idea to keep some extra spikes in your golf bag in case one breaks off on you.

If you have a favorite pair of golf shoes that you always play with, consider purchasing the Golfkicks Golf Traction Kit. This kit will allow you to add soft spikes to any pair of shoes, which is a perfect accessory for rainy days on the golf course.

3. Pack Extra Golf Gloves

Have you ever tried to hit a shot with a wet golf glove? Needless to say, it’s a tall order. Keep a couple of dry golf gloves in your bag so that you can switch them out if they get too wet.

You can also try out the new specialty rain gloves that are now on the market. These are made with an extra sticky grip to help you control the club during rainy weather. Lots of golfers like to wear one of these on each hand during bad weather.

Wondering which rain gloves to buy? We highly recommend the Footjoy Men’s Raingrip Golf Gloves, which are reasonably priced and hold up remarkably well in any type of tough weather conditions. You’ll never have to worry about the golf club slipping out of your hands with these bad boys!

4. Always Keep an Umbrella with You

A good golf umbrella can keep both you and your golf clubs dry during a wet round. If there is any chance of rain in the forecast, make sure you have your umbrella in the golf cart with you. Heck, even if there is no chance of rain, it’s always better to be prepared for that unexpected popup shower.

While you can probably get away with a cheap regular umbrella, it’s best to invest in a golf umbrella because they are more durable and larger. Remember, cheaper is rarely better.

If you’re not sure which golf umbrella to buy, check out the G4Free Automatic Open Golf Umbrella. It comes in 18 different color schemes and has a one-year performance guarantee. It’s also large enough to keep you dry but sleek enough to fit inside your golf bag.

5. Keep Reasonable Expectations

When playing in rainy weather, it helps to keep reasonable performance expectations. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to play well, you have to remember that nobody shoots incredibly low scores in bad weather.

If you have never played in rainy conditions, try to focus on enjoying the overall experience instead of focusing too much on your score. This is a good opportunity to practice staying in a positive frame of mind even though you may be racking up more bogeys than you would like. Remember that the best golfers in the world know how to manage their expectations and emotions.

6. Keep Safety a Top Priority

When playing in bad weather, remember to always use extra caution on the golf course. This applies to whether you are hitting a difficult shot from a slick surface or simply driving a golf cart. In wet weather, play the safe shot, take the simplest path, and don’t try to be a hero.

Never attempt a shot that may cause you to suffer an injury. Also, never drive a cart into any type of standing water because it may be much deeper than you think. Lastly, keep your eyes and ears open for thunder, lightning, or the sound of the airhorn indicating that all play must be halted.

7. Have Fun

While it may not be for everyone, playing golf in the rain can be a wonderful experience. As crazy as it may sound, I’ve always looked forward to rainy days on the golf course, as long as there is no lightning. There’s just something soothing about hitting shots on a secluded course while hearing the raindrops hit the ground.

 

Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.