I played a round of golf in The Netherlands once. I was frightfully unprepared. My flimsy umbrella could not deal with the cold sideways rain and my unsuitable shoes were flooded by the first green. My dry weather glove proved useless and my grips were slick as a catfish resulting in some of the worst golf shots of my life.
Golf in The Netherlands is rather exclusive and I was craving a round of golf after having not played much since leaving sunny South Africa. My lack of preparedness for the adverse weather turned my day into the most miserable round of golf I have ever experienced, in fact it was so bad that I did not play again until moving to California a few years later! Junior golf rain gear and preparation for wet weather is as important or even more important as for adults, especially in "no-caddie" tournaments.
I’ve played in the rain subsequently – its inevitable that the heavens will open up in the middle of a round at some point if you play often enough but I never complain – once you’ve played in appalling conditions that are unlikely to be repeated you can deal with most anything. It’s like Atlanta traffic which everyone complains about and which is truly awful – I have lived and worked and commuted in NY and LA where the traffic is gridlocked to say the least. Atlanta seems like a walk in the park. There is a lesson in there somewhere. You have got to experience the worst in order to know in your mind that you can get through anything that nature throws at you. If you prepare – both emotionally and practically for the worst, you will find yourself performing much better than you expected and certainly better than than your fellow competitors that are adrift in a sea of unexpected precipitation.
We have experienced many junior golf tournaments played in heavy rains and picked up some good tips along the way. Apart from being prepared with the junior golf rain gear and other equipment as detailed in this article here are some simple tips that make a difference:
Junior golf tournaments will play through almost any weather except frost/ice (courses will generally close in these conditions in order to protect the course) and lightening. Per Rule 6.8, bad weather is not of itself a good reason for discontinuing play.
Golf is primarily a mind game. If we can help junior golfers to train their minds to not allow weather to detract from their enjoyment or at least not impede their performance on the course, that would be a good thing. The way a junior golfer trains his mind to do something is to practice and be prepared.
As miserable as it sounds, the junior golfer needs to practice in the rain, so once it happens in a tournament the change in conditions won't blindside him. And conditions do change. In wet conditions there is a greater tendency to rush the shot. A conscious effort must be made to slow down and focus more on accuracy which will hopefully reign in the body's natural instinct in uncomfortable conditions to physically push (swing harder) through the shot. Keep the grip normal. Gripping too hard, to supposedly prevent the club slipping, will generally result in a pulled shot and no one wants to wade around in wet rough!
The condition of the course changes too and if you practice in the wet weather it won't catch you too much off guard when a downpour results in suddenly softer fairways (the course will play longer with less roll coming into play) and slower greens. Practicing in the rain and wet conditions gives the junior golfer the confidence to adjust their game when the weather turns wet in tournament play. This is one reason that the European Tour players do so well in tough weather conditions.
Golf rain gear, such as the Armour Storm Golf Rain Suit above, can be expensive, it can sit in your junior golfer's bag for years and never be worn, and even the best cut can still hinder the junior's swing motion slightly. However, in a sudden torrential downpour or hours of unrelenting drizzle, it is a source of comfort and protection when everything and everyone else is looking miserable. It can be difficult to find good junior rain gear but an adult small size sometimes will work well. At a minimum, have a rain jacket that will keep your junior's upper body dry. We have found some nice rain gear in golf course pro shops with the added benefit of being able to try it on.
A pair of spiked, waterproof golf shoes is essential, especially for a junior golfer who plays a lot of tournaments. These Adidas Powerband Boa Boost golf shoes are the go-to shoes for my Junior 1. They are also reviewed in Best Shoes for a Junior Golfer. Do not send you junior out to play in mesh shoes that will be water logged by the first hole.
Our juniors use these Footjoy Rain Grip golf gloves in wet weather and they are helpful to ward off the winter chill too when worn as a pair. They are a good fit for juniors, a lot like normal golf gloves but give better grip in wet conditions. Keep a pair of rain gloves in the golf bag - and for multi-day tournaments it is always a good idea to keep a couple of new pairs of regular gloves in a Ziploc bag tucked deep and dry in the golf bag. Wet gloves lead to slipping which is not conducive to a well struck shot.
Most golf bags are waterproof (see Your Guide to Choosing the Best Junior Golf Bag) and most contain a built in rain proof cover that can be zipped over the clubs in the rain. If your junior's golf bag does not contain rain protection it might be a good idea to buy a golf bag rain hood like the one above. For particularly wet climates you can consider purchasing a waterproof bag such as the light weight Sun Mountain H2NO model pictured below.
In addition, if you play in an extremely wet climate such as the Pacific North West (Oregon, Washington State etc.) and use a golf push cart then you should consider buying a full bag rain cover that fits over a golf bag on a push cart and also has easy access panels.
The best full rain covers have panels to provide access to golf bag pockets. Some full bag covers are available in a convenient clear plastic. The Rain Tek Cover pictured above is an example of a good golf bag cover and has great buyer reviews.
If your junior golfer utilizes a golf push cart, most push carts have an umbrella holder accessory, but before buying an umbrella make sure it is going to fit into the accessory. Some umbrella handles are a bit bulky to fit into the accessory. An umbrella, for protection against the sun or rain, is an essential element of a junior golfer's gear. There are a lot of good golf umbrella options like the GustBuster above and most golf course pro-shops have some quality golf specific umbrellas.
A golf towel is constantly in use on the golf course to clean club faces. In the rain it will pull double duty and thus it is a good plan to have a clean, dry towel always tucked in a dry place inside the golf bag. A multi pack of golf towels like the ones above will make sure you have sufficient mud and moisture wicking power for hands and clubs. If you have an umbrella up on your push cart you can hang a towel on the underside of the open umbrella for convenience.
Scorecards do not do well in the rain. A leather (more expensive but durable and good looking) or otherwise water resistant score card carrier like the Callaway one above is necessary protection for the scorecard in inclement weather conditions. Your junior golfer definitely does not want to be sitting at the scorer's table at the end of the round with a scorecard soggy and unreadable from the rain. Even worse, trying to keep the card dry on the course can result in unnecessary stress on a junior golfer and is a distraction from the task at hand, that of executing a good golf shot.
Practicing in the rain and wet conditions gives the junior golfer the confidence to adjust their game when the weather turns wet. And if he/she has the necessary junior golf rain gear and other equipment on hand, adverse weather conditions need not have a corresponding effect on the junior golfer's performance.