Golf is a game that’s enjoyed around the world and recently, with the right set of conditions, even in the UK. It’s a game that’s highly reliant on the weather and it’s always interesting when there’s a double-whammy on the cards!
One of the biggest storylines heading into this year’s Masters was Tiger Woods’ comeback. After years of injury and frustration, Woods was finally ready to hit the golf ball again and he did so with great success. However, as the old adage goes, things can change in an instant and Woods was dealt yet another big blow when he crashed out in the first round of the PGA Championship.
Woods’ struggles are reminiscent of another great sports star who had to overcome adversity to reclaim his throne, Jimmy Connors. While playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1981, Connors had a bad back and his golf game took a nosedive. He couldn’t hit the ball straight and even though he won several tournaments that year, the injury and the back problems that sidelined him for much of the season were a big blow to his career. Even though he recovered, Connors never fully got back to his best and ultimately, his career was defined by the injuries he suffered in his earlier years.
It’s always tragic when great athletes suffer career-ending injuries but it’s something that happens in sports that is ultimately worth it. Woods’ triumph over his injuries and his comeback has been truly inspiring and it would be a missed opportunity if the world’s No. 1 golfer is not able to enjoy the fruits of this labor, particularly the first major tournament of the year. The question now is: Can we expect more of the same from Tiger Woods in 2014? Can he continue racking up the wins and will he be able to take his game to another level?
It’s well-known that golf is highly dependent on the weather and there’s no other sport that knows how to deal with bad weather quite like golf does. In addition to playing a part in our winter sport activities, the weather can also impact the way we play golf. When the temperatures are rising, our instinct is to retreat to the comfort of the air-conditioned golf course but that’s not always the wisest choice. Being out on the golf course when the temperature is above 75 degrees can seriously damage your golf game. That’s the reason why golf courses are often found in cooler places than the rest of the country!
In the UK, the longest golf course is often found at the Bute Estate in Scotland, having one of the most spectacular views of any course in the country. It’s not unusual for the temperature to reach 85 degrees in the middle of the day and the humidity can be just as uncomfortable. This is why the course’s management regularly puts up with the odd complaint from a player by installing an ice-chest on the 10th hole!
Tiger Woods famously asserted that “when it comes to my golf game, the weather varies” and that applies to more than one facet of his game. While the weather can certainly help, it can also hold the key to his downfall. As great as Woods is, he’s not perfect and he’s made some serious mistakes in his career. One of the biggest mistakes he made was being overconfident and cocky after coming back from his back injury in 2012, not realizing that the body can still betray you despite your best efforts. Perhaps it’s this overconfidence that has led Woods down the wrong path numerous times and it’s something that he has to work on, particularly heading into 2014. He still has all the talent in the world but he now has to be more humble and know when to take a step back.
What’s the Difference in Humidity and Temperature?
When we’re experiencing extreme temperatures, whether it’s summer or winter, we often feel like taking a vacation but that’s not always the case. For instance, when it’s 35 degrees outside but it feels like it’s 85 degrees, we might feel a little suffocated but wouldn’t dream of taking a vacation just yet. The same concept goes for the humidty in the air; when the air feels thick and damp, it’s usually an indication that an uncomfortable amount of moisture is present. That, combined with the heat, can cause a lot of damage to human physiology. For instance, when the heat index reaches 95 degrees, it becomes nearly impossible for the human body to cool down. Even standing under a shady tree can’t provide much relief. The body has to work hard just to stay at a comfortable temperature and it’s not unusual for people to feel exhausted or suffer from headaches and eye strain. At this point, it’s probably best to stay indoors or at least in the shade.
Humidity and temperature are two elements that can seriously damage the performance of golf equipment, particularly balls and clubs. When the air is very wet and balmy, there’s a good chance that your golf clubs will suffer from excessive wear. Your ball may even become sticky, causing you all sorts of issues on the golf course. As for the temperature, as we’ve established, it can be extremely taxing on the human body but it can also create some phenomenal opportunities for sport. A hot summer’s day can be a delight when golfing and it’s not unusual for a player to experience a significant rise in their game. When the mercury soars above 40 degrees but the air is still, the grass becomes greener, the skies bluer, and everything takes on a radiant glow. Of course, it’s all dependent on the type of golf course that you play and whether or not they’re equipped with air-conditioning!
A Bit of an Oddity: The Snowball Effect
While the temperature and the humidty of the air can play a big part in determining how good or bad your golf game is, there’s another factor that can have a large influence on the outcome of your golf round: the snow. If there’s any place that you don’t want to be when the temperature is rising, it’s right next to a snow bank. The more the snow, the worse your golf game, especially if it’s a heavy accumulation. So if you’re in the UK and you see a blizzard heading your way, you’d better believe that your golf game will take a massive hit!
The problem with the snow is that it doesn’t just affect the golf course, leaving it completely white. The ground becomes a giant ice-bowl, making any sort of movement extremely difficult. If you want to play golf during a snowfall, you’ll have to work hard to find a spot where the ball doesn’t get stuck. At the end of the day, it’s all about common sense and knowing when to stop.
Is Humidity Bad for Plants?
It might be bad for human health but it’s not always the case that heat and moisture are bad for your plants. For instance, if you have orchids, keeping the soil consistently moist but not too wet can help stimulate their growth. Just make sure that the plant doesn’t overheat; the more sunlight that it receives, the bigger, thicker, and more vibrant it will become. The orchids’ flowers can be highly pollinated by insects and it’s essential that they remain healthy, attracting the right pollinators. If you want to grow orchids, provide them with some privacy by keeping out pets and large insects but make sure that they receive plenty of light. A humidifier won’t hurt either!
When Is the Best Time to Play?
There’s no absolute answer to this question as it depends on a variety of factors. When the air is cool and the sun starts to disappear, it’s generally a good idea to retreat indoors, away from the fierce heat and the endless daylight. The problem is that this time of day is often associated with worse weather conditions so it might not be the best idea to play then. However, if you live in a place where the air is cold but not impossible to bear, it’s worth considering heading outdoors to play. The same concept goes for the evening; while it might not be the most comfortable time of day to be out on the golf course, it can be excellent for golfing if the temperatures are decreasing. With the sun setting and the lights coming on, it can be an advantage to have your clubs and golf ball at the ready, particularly if the temperatures drop significantly. In some parts of the world, it gets so cold during the winter months that it can be worth going without shirts. In the UK, it gets cool but often still very humid so a light sweater can help keep you comfortable while on the course. It really depends on the type of golf course that you play, the weather conditions, and your personal preference. Just do your best to find the right combination!