How Much Rain is Too Much to Be Able to Play Golf?
Written by 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.

Have you ever woken up early on a Saturday morning and been pumped up about your tee time, only to see an unexpected thunderstorm coming rolling in?

You may have wondered if you and your buddies would be able to get your round in at your favorite course. What a bummer!

Cheer up though, a rainy day on the golf course doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to cancel your tee time. In this article, we’ll discuss when it’s still feasible to play golf in the rain.

We’ll also give you some tips on how to make sure you are prepared to play in the rain.


How Much Rain Is Too Much for Golf?

It’s tough to say how much rain it takes to cancel your tee time. Some golf courses hold up remarkably well even during a steady rain and dry out quickly. This is especially true of courses in hotter climates.

Other golf courses aren’t as resilient and the extremely wet conditions may lead to wet grass, wet greens, and bunkers that are filled with wet sand and mud. It’s these types of conditions that make the staff decide to cancel some or all of the remaining tee times for the day. Most pro shops only do this if necessary because they do not want to lose the revenue from greens fees.

On a day with particularly bad weather, you may have arrived for your tee time and seen the dreaded “Course Closed” sign displayed near the pro shop. It’s a terrible feeling and you may have wondered just how much rain caused the course to close. Believe it or not, it probably wasn’t rain that caused the course to close.

The majority of the time, course closures are caused by lightning strikes or other types of severe weather like hail or tornadoes that pose an imminent danger to competitors and staff. When this happens, the best thing you can do is go home, pour yourself a cold one, and watch golf on TV. Hey, there are worse ways to spend an afternoon (lol)!


Can You Play Golf in Heavy Rain?

Yes, you can play golf in heavy rain, as long as there has not been a lightning strike in the area within the last 30 minutes. To successfully play golf in the rain, make sure you have extra towels in your golf bag. It’s also a good idea to invest in some quality rain gear like rain gloves, rain hats, and rain pants.

While playing in heavy rain, keep an eye out on the golf course for any signs that are posted. If there has been steady rain for quite some time, the golf course superintendent may opt to close some of the holes that have large puddles. The staff may also employ the “Cart Path Only” rule on rainy days to keep golfers from doing further damage to the course.

You also want to keep an eye out for any parts of the cart path that may be roped off because of being underwater. Never take any unnecessary risks by driving your golf cart into a puddle that looks too deep. If you have doubts about a puddle’s depth, simply drive around it.


How Long After It Rains Can You Play Golf?

As long as the golf course is still deemed playable by the staff, then you’ll be able to still finish your round. The only time you may not be able to keep playing is if the rain has caused significant damage to the course. When this happens you may notice multiple puddles and lots of tree limbs down.

If the course or the cart paths are unusable or lightning strikes keep happening in the area, you’ll need to ask the pro shop about their rain check policy. At some golf courses, you’ll be eligible for a rain check only if you’ve played six holes or less.


What to Do If It Rains While Golfing?

We’ve all been there. You are in the middle of shooting a great score and one of those annoying pop-up thunderstorms comes out of nowhere. Here are four tips for playing golf in the rain.

1. Make Safety Your First Priority

At the first sign of rain, stay alert to the sound of the pro shop blowing the horn. If this happens, you must postpone your round and find shelter. The pro shop staff will closely monitor the local weather radar to try to figure out when it is safe for golfers to resume their rounds.

All golf courses have a few safety shelters available for when lightning strikes happen. If no safety shelters are in sight, try to get back to the clubhouse as quickly as possible to ride out the storm.

According to recommendations from the USGA, when lightning strikes, a delay will remain in effect until after lightning has been absent in the area for at least 30 minutes. The pro shop will then blow the horn to indicate that all golfers can resume their rounds.

2. Break Out the Right Gear

When the rain starts coming down, bring out your umbrella to make sure that you and your golf clubs stay as dry as possible. It’s nearly impossible to hit good quality golf shots with wet grips on your clubs. A lot of golfers like to drape a towel underneath the lining of their umbrellas so that they can dry their hands and grips before each shot.

It’s also a good idea to put on your rain jacket and waterproof golf shoes if you weren’t already wearing them. Take the opportunity to put different spikes on if you prefer them in wet conditions. Spikes can keep you from slipping during your swing and allow you to still make clean contact with the golf ball.

To stay prepared at all times, some golfers like to keep all of their waterproof gear in a plastic bag inside their golf bag. Other things like an extra dry towel, hand warmers, golf gloves, and maybe an extra golf shirt can come in handy.

3. Have a Sound Strategy for Wet Conditions

When the fairways and greens are wet, you won’t get nearly as much distance on your shots. All of your shots will have less trajectory and you’ll get less backspin with your wedges. Because of this, be prepared to take more club on all of your shots during and after a rainstorm.

On long approach shots, use a fairway wood or a hybrid instead of your long irons to help you compensate for the less overall distance. Also, be prepared to hit your chips and putts with more authority. When the greens are wet and you’re hitting a wet golf ball, your chips will stop more quickly and your putts will have much less break to them.

4. Have Fun

Golfing in the rain may not be as pleasurable as golfing on a perfect 70-degree day, but it can still be a lot of fun. When playing during a wicked downpour, try not to take your score as seriously. Everyone tends to play worse in tough conditions, even PGA Tour stars!

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.