Other than not getting what you really wanted for Christmas, the worst thing in the world might be waking up early for a morning tee time and glancing out the window to see – RAIN.

Wait a minute. The weather guy stood in front of that green screen with all the swirling fronts and low and high pressures and smiling suns and promised clear skies and a high of 80. Perfect golf weather.

What happened? Maybe the weather gurus were distracted by the seemingly daily arrival of a hurricane or tropical storm, and that’s understandable. 

But, hey, let’s be a little more careful when we’re talking about a guy’s weekly round of golf, OK?

One of my favorite weather websites (raysweather.com) can boast of two positives – it’s often very accurate, and it has something called the Golf-O-Meter, which rates the quality of the day’s forecast using golf balls. Five balls means you should be on the course to enjoy a beautiful day. Three balls means the forecast is a bit iffy but worth a shot. One ball means the weather is fit for ducks and/or polar bears. If no golf balls are showing, you shouldn’t even be outside.

This method of forecasting should be taught in every meteorological school.

If you have to deal with a less-than-excellent forecast, golf is one of those games that can be played in the rain. In fact, sometimes a very light drizzle is welcome on an otherwise hot day. Can be a bit refreshing. But when water is dripping off your cap and the pond in front of the No. 3 green has whitecaps and is overflowing the dam, it’s time to head for the course grill and an early lunch.

If you must play in the rain (and it’s understandable that the urge to play trumps almost every other mental condition), two things matter – waterproof shoes and protection for your clubs.

Playing 18 holes in the rain will make you wish you hadn’t bought those two-pair-for-$29 shoes at the discount mart. If it rains a lot where you live, invest in the good ones. Then when you get home have one of your kids clean them up real good.

A golfer’s clubs are almost as important as food. Maybe more so. It’s OK if you get soaked playing a round, but don’t let those Pings suffer. Fold down that neat cover on the back of the golf cart, and double-up the protection with a golf-bag hood (worst case, for you cheapies, carry along a trash bag).

Wet club grips won’t feel right and also are potentially dangerous. A particularly vicious swing might send a 7-iron flying out of your hands and into the ear of your playing partner. This can make the rest of the round somewhat awkward (not to mention the next Christmas present exchange).

It goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway – that rain is one thing but lightning is quite another. Don’t be caught on the course when nature goes electric. Take your losses and wait for a better day. A three- or four-ball day.


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Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.