The Impact of Bad Weather on Putting

The Impact of Bad Weather on Putting

Bad weather significantly impacts golf course conditions, including on the green. Learn how weather can alter putts.
Alexis Bennett
Updated on
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Golf is a widely-loved game. Whether it’s the scenic views, exercise, or the overall challenge of the game, we can play it for a lifetime and it has an entire country hooked. 

There is, however, one disadvantage to the game of golf; it’s the same one that comes with any outdoor sport you choose to play: poor weather conditions. The weather has the ability to impact the conditions of the course, your strategy and ability to score, and specifically the greens and your putting. 

High winds, cool temps, droughts, afternoon thunderstorms, dry air, humidity, and scorching heat all affect course conditions in different ways. 

Depending on the region of the country or world you live in determines the type of grass that thrives at your local club. Weather impacts different grasses in different ways and, in fact, how grass reacts, in general, can vary over the course of a single day. 

True golf fanatics have at least two weather apps on their phone and are always prepared for what’s to come throughout the day if they’ve got a tee time. 

It’s important to never leave the house unprepared when it comes to Mother Nature. Rain gear is a part of a golfer’s normal attire because it protects against wind, rain, and cold! Weekend warrior golfers also have umbrellas lying around everywhere so they aren’t caught in unexpected weather. 

We golfers are a special breed, trained to look at the daily forecast and prepare accordingly. 

Aside from being some of the most prepared individuals when it comes to daily weather conditions, golfers must also learn how those adverse conditions can impact their swing, ball flight, and overall game. 

Without an understanding of how the weather may impact course conditions and your putting, it may be hard bringing consistency into your game, regardless of how much effort you put into your practice. 

How Weather Can Negatively Impact Putting 

What a loaded question! Not only can the condition of the putting green be altered, but also your physical putting stroke. 

Depending on where you live, weather patterns differ. The type of grass capable of thriving in cooler temps wouldn’t survive in the scorching heat. Vice versa, areas like the desert with dry air aren't going to be able to nurture and grow the same type of grass as a locale with 100% humidity. 

These different types of grass react independently of one another when playing golf. Specifically, as it relates to putting, alterations will need to be made to how you might read greens, anticipate the speed of a putt, and even the way in which you stroke the ball. Putting greens are not created equally and you have to be able to adapt to the many variations of them. 

There are a few major weather patterns to highlight in your quest to tackle different impacts on course conditions as it relates to putting. Hopefully, you'll leave here with a little more knowledge than when you started allowing you to adapt to any putting green you play on. 

High Winds 

Wicked winds can not only affect the condition of the putting greens you are playing on but also the overall structure of your putting stroke. This weather condition has the most impact, of any other, on your golf game. 

You may have seen the infamous LPGA and PGA Tournaments in Hawaii; winds on the islands can be unlike anything you've ever seen. They cause flag sticks to bend, nearly to the point of breaking. Winds have even gotten so high as to result in a delay of play or even postponement of a round until the winds die down and course conditions become playable again. 

Not only can wind dry out the putting green causing it to become firm, it also increases the speed, getting faster as the day goes on. Firm and fast can be a dangerous combination on a windy day. Getting your ball to stay at rest on the putting surface becomes an art and a science, an almost impossible task if the putting greens you are playing on are well-manicured. Not to mention, standing up! The inability to keep your putting stance stable in addition to your putter being blown around throughout your putting stroke can lead to a very frustrating trip around the golf course. 

Wind is one of the hardest weather conditions to play in. It’s 100% a guessing game! There is no way to measure the exact speed of the wind at the exact moment you are going to be putting it, so trusting yourself becomes crucial. Belief will always create a better stroke than having all the numbers at your disposal but hesitating when it comes time to perform.

Putting into the wind will slow a putt down significantly, forcing you to make a harder strike. The exact opposite happens when putting downwind. You need to be more delicate so the putt doesn’t run away from you, especially if you are putting downhill and downwind. 

A good rule of thumb when it’s windy and you are on a putting green is to widen your putting stance to outside shoulder width. This allows your lower body to serve as a more stable base, counteracting the wind as it tries to blow you off balance. 

Heavy Rain and Humidity

Heavy rain will do the opposite of high winds. Wet putting greens slow down and become very soft. Some putting greens can only take on so much water before it will start to pool and create puddles, inevitably becoming unplayable. 

Rain isn’t the only time you may experience moisture on the golf course, though. If you live in Florida, you know exactly what we’re talking about. In humid climates, especially in the morning, there can be a significant layer of dew on the greens. Early morning golfers are also known as dew sweepers for a reason. They experience the same collection of water on your golf ball while putting that you would if it was actively raining. 

When there is water sitting on the surface of a putting green, putts need to be hit much harder. As the ball rolls towards the cup it starts to collect water along its path, losing speed exponentially faster than it typically would.

Cool Temperatures 

Bent grass is one of the specific types of grass that thrive in cooler temperatures. It is a grass without grain that produces a much truer roll due to the lack of deviation from the direction the grass is growing. 

Cooler temps, though, can also make it harder to compress the golf ball making the action of hitting the ball feel much heavier than usual. As it relates to putting, it could significantly impact your ability to have good speed control. The reason is, when a golf ball gets cold, it feels harder and most golfers will want to hit a putt harder as a result. Impact won’t feel as soft or solid as it normally would so we tend to overcompensate as we search for that feeling. 

Being aware of this environmental change and how it can affect your putting may save you the headache of multiple 3 putts the next time you play in cooler climates. 


Drought can cause a similar effect to the putting surface as high winds, but without the annoyance of the actual wind on top of the firm and fast greens. 

When there is a drought, golf course superintendents have to be strategic about where, when, and how often they water different parts of the course. Being able to saturate the putting greens in an effort to have more receptive surfaces at more manageable speeds for the average golfer, might not be a sustainable option. 

You’ll notice greens becoming much faster and firmer during a drought, making putting even more difficult than it already is. Depending on how firm the greens get, you might not be able to tell the difference between putting on an indoor putting mat or a real putting green. You may also experience some unintentionally aggressive green speeds than what you are used to under more controllable conditions. 

Scorching Heat 

Immense head does the polar opposite of cool temperatures. Because golf balls compress better at higher temps, contact when putting may feel softer than normal, leading you to think you may not have to strike it as hard. Consistency in speed control can be tough to achieve as a result. 

Imagine you are in a region of the country that has cool weather grass and cooler temperatures but are suddenly experiencing an abnormal heat wave. The course maintenance crew may need to periodically apply a light film of water throughout the day in order to ensure the putting greens don’t burn out, also known as syringing. They do have to be careful to not overwater because water conducts heat. If a putting green is over-saturated in scorching temps, it can cause the roots to overheat and cook, severely damaging the putting green. Golf course maintenance is a constantly moving target with plenty going on behind the scenes, even if it appears to be a perfectly mild and sunny day.

Weather Can Impact More Than Just Your Putting 

When Mother Nature is rearing her ugly head, she can change course conditions in an instant, causing the course you played yesterday to feel like a completely different track today. 

Think about the above weather conditions and how they affect a putting surface. Now imagine hitting approach shots into those greens under each one of those conditions. Having really receptive greens due to over-saturation from rain could lead to a low round because you can fire at flag sticks and know that the greens will hold better. On the flip side, hitting approach shots into firm and fast greens could produce a much higher score than you are used to. Holding greens may become a far-fetched idea on courses experiencing a drought or in an area with predominantly strong winds as an everyday weather pattern. These courses might demand a more links-style approach where the goal is to land the ball short of the green and let it roll up.

Understanding how the weather might impact course conditions is as important as the work you put in on the driving range or practice putting green. Course management is a very important “club” in your bag that many good players lose sight of. 

Do yourself a favor and check the weather before your next golf trip. Know what it’s going to be like in the few days leading up to your rounds so you have a better understanding of the course conditions you are likely to be presented with. 

How to Prepare for Unexpected Weather Conditions on the Golf Course

In one word, practice. The more you practice, the better you get. This can be said for anything in life, but especially when it comes to golf. If you have an opportunity to practice in different conditions, take advantage of it. If the range is open during a rainstorm, get out and hit a few instead of chalking it up to an automatic day off!

A great way to practice your putting for firm green conditions is on an indoor putting green. With tile or wood flooring underneath the mat you are putting on, the speed will be much faster than most natural putting greens making it a great way to prep for that slick greens. 

Commitment to practicing, whether it is in your living room on an indoor putting mat or at the practice facility of your local golf course, it’s the only way you are going to see lasting progress in your game. If time or money is keeping you from working on your game or even just your putting, there are always alternatives. For instance, indoor putting mats have come a long way with their ability to mimic tour-grade turf.


Can the weather really impact golf course conditions?

Yes. Unexpected weather can cause a golf course to play much differently than you are used to. Imagine a desert course with firm fast fairways that experiences rain for multiple days in a row. You may be used to getting rollout and after a few days of rain the golf course plays much longer as a result of no rollout from your tee shots. 

How will the weather affect my putting? 

The weather can affect it in a multitude of ways. Either making putting greens faster or slower depending on the level of moisture in the weather you experience. Greens can get much faster when it is dry and windy affecting your ability to have good speed control. Wet greens play much slower forcing you to hit putts much firmer than you may be used to. 

Can the weather cause course conditions to change drastically from one day to the next? 

Yes! Not only can the weather cause course conditions to change drastically from one day to the next but within hours depending on the severity of weather you are experiencing.

Alexis Bennett
Updated on
Alexis is a longtime student of the game. After collegiate and professional playing careers, she spent 9 seasons coaching, most recently at a Division 1 university. In that time, she led her teams to 8 top-4 finishes in conference championships and led one player to the NCAA Regionals as an at-large bid in 2021, capping the best individual playing career in the program’s history. Now, Alexis hones her expertise as a copywriter and content marketer in the golf niche, staying tied closely to a game she’s loved her whole life.

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