Winter has arrived. The combination of cold gusty winds and icy rain is bad news for the golfer lacking the necessary layers to stay warm on the course this winter.
A cosy sweater is not enough. Where winter golf is concerned, it’s all about the layers. These layers work together to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable, even in the most adverse weather conditions.
Here are the best golf layers for winter…
Best golf base layers
This is where you should start – a base layer is crucial. If you’re worried about your swing feeling restricted, don’t be. Due to their stretchy properties, base layers work with your swing.
Once you’ve started playing in a base layer, you’ll never play another winter round without one.
Galvin Green Edwin Base Layer
Galvin Green’s SKINTIGHT Thermal technology offers maximum breathability and comfort. The technology comes from a combination of knit and fibres that provide a light and breathable structure, which is perfect for golf.
Puma Golf 2.0 Base Layer
This base layer contains a dryCELL fabric, which works by drawing moisture away from the skin for rapid drying. Its Extreme Flex ensures that your swinging motion is not at all hindered.
It features the Puma cat logo on the sleeve, which can be seen when it’s warm enough to take off a layer or two.
Under Armour GolfGear Compression Mock Base Layer
This base layer features Dual-layer ColdGear fabric to ensure you stay warm with a brushed interior and fast-drying exterior. It also features 4-way stretch fabrication and ColdGear fabric.
There are subtle details all over this base layer, and these details make Under Armour’s ColdGear one of the standout base layers on the market.
Best golf mid layers
When it comes to the best golf mid layers, it’s all about versatility. You need warmth when the temperature drops, comfort when your body heats up, and protection when the clouds open.
We’re no longer talking about dull, baggy jumpers, either. Today’s offerings tick loads of boxes in terms of style, performance, and playability.
FootJoy Chill-Out Xtreme Fleece Pullover
This performance sweater is easy to slip on over a base layer and/or polo shirt. The soft fleece lining offers body heat retention and comfort, whilst the reach through front hand pockets provide added warmth.
Meanwhile, engineered woven panels on the chest and rear yoke provide abrasion protection. Both the light blue/navy and grey/charcoal colours are very smart.
Ralph Lauren Peached LS Jersey
This is the perfect quarter-zip mid layer for those chilly conditions. It’s easy to slip on and off, and store in your bag. That said, given how smart it looks, you’re probably going to want to keep it on – on and off the course.
This classic fit top is moisture-wicking and has 4-way stretch, so you can swing freely.
Ping Nordic has made some statement with this fleece, which features grid back fabric for lightweight warmth.
In terms of colours, you can choose from striking blue, grey and black, and mallard green. Don’t be put off by the name of the latter – they are all water repellent.
Galvin Green Drake Insula
This half zip mid layer has a wonderful soft feel. It’s extremely stretchy and offers superior breathability and thermal regulation properties.
It features contrast colour signature logos transferred on the right shoulder and back neck. The sharkskin (grey) is a popular choice, perhaps because it goes so well with multiple colours.
Oscar Jacobson Thomson
This technical pullover with contemporary design details offers a distinctive look. Its functional polyester blend stretch fabric aids freedom of movement and high levels of moisture-wicking for superior comfort.
For anyone looking for something other than a grey or black, the light blue and light plum will add a nice splash of colour to your winter wardrobe.
FootJoy Thermal Quilted Vest
They’re perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but vests and gilets are mid layers worth investing in – and here’s one to consider.
The water-repellent outer shell combines with sweater knit side panels to provide warmth. Extra warmth can be found in the zip hand pockets, while the elastic binding on the armholes and waist ensure a comfortable fit.
Best Golf Outer Layers
It won’t just bucket it down this winter – we hope – so there will be days where an outer layer such as a windproof jacket will be adequate.
Let’s look at some of the best golf outer layers…
Galvin Green Aaron Waterproof Jacket
If you want the best outer layer that money can buy, look no further than the Galvin Green Aaron waterproof jacket. This premium offering provides unrivalled protection from the elements.
It features a complex multi-layer construction to provide waterproof protection, and a mesh lining for breathability.
It’s one for the serious golfer who relishes a battle with the elements.
Puma Ultradry Jacket
Puma’s Ultradry jacket features a number of nice touches. The waist pockets and cuff adjustor offer more usability and comfort, as does the ventilated back.
Callaway Stormguard Jacket
Tour pros aren’t often required to pull on the wet weather gear, but here’s a jacket Callaway Staff players tend to reach for when the heavens open.
The use of highly weather-resistant fabrics provides protection from storm tested wind and rain. Meanwhile, the soft material works with the golf swing, and it’s quiet, too, so you can be sure of having no distractions when you swing.
Ping Downton Waterproof Jacket
Waterproof, windproof, and lightweight, Ping’s Downton has everything you need to tackle the winter weather. Go for the blue and inject a bit more colour into your winter outfit.
Under Armour ColdGear Reactor Hybrid Wind Jacket
There’s a lot to like about this garment, which Jordan Spieth often turns to when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Storm technology repels water, whilst the lofty insulating design provides 100 per cent thermal wind protection. It’s styled with a padded design, so it looks a bit different to other garments, which is no bad thing.
Ping Norse PrimaLoft II Thermal Wind Jacket
Whilst you’ll have no problems wearing this jacket during light rain showers, it does its best work in the wind. Featuring PrimaLoft insulation, the quilted design retains high levels of body heat to keep the chill out, so you can remain focused on playing your best golf.
The North West of England is a golfing paradise. From England’s Golf Coast, which takes in the likes of Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool, and Royal Lytham & St Annes, to a whole host of beautiful layouts in Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Cumbria, there are top class courses all over this neck of the woods.
Here’s our guide to the 15 best North West golf courses.
1. Royal Birkdale
For many, Royal Birkdale occupies top spot in the North West.
We all have our favourites, of course – but few would claim this world-famous Open venue isn’t worthy of a place in the UK and Ireland’s top ten.
Since first hosting The Open in 1954, Royal Birkdale has been the most regular venue for the Championship other than St Andrews. Who can forget Jordan Spieth’s heroics here in 2017, or a young Justin Rose holing out on 18 back in 1998?
Challenging venues have a habit of creating special memories, and Birkdale is most certainly that. This peerless links is blessed with towering dunes, and when the wind is up, it can be a torrid experience.
It is fair, though, and if you find the fairways, your ball will rarely veer off into trouble. Enjoy it for what is – links heaven.
2. Royal Lytham & St Annes
It’s a treat to play one of the courses on The Open rota – and the green fees, as punchy as they may be, are worth every penny.
Royal Lytham is a demanding links test. The Open Championship’s top three in 2012 comprised Ernie Els, Adam Scott, and Tiger Woods – so you could say it’s a course that rewards good ball striking.
A links it may be, but it no longer sits beside the sea. However, with Blackpool Tower looming in the distance, you know the ocean isn’t far away.
As for a standout hole, many consider the short ninth, which is surrounded by a pearl necklace of beautiful revetted bunkers, to be its signature. All that’s required is a smooth short-iron.
No golf trip to Merseyside is complete without playing Formby, which will appeal to links lovers and those who prefer heathland golf.
In fact, one of the best holes – the par-4 seventh – requires a pinpoint tee shot to a narrow fairway framed by pines trees.
Along the way, you’re treated to glimpses of Formby Ladies, which sits inside Formby. If you’re clever, you can arrange to play both courses on the same day.
After following the railway line for the first three holes – you don’t want that fade to turn into a slice – you turn towards the Irish Sea, which comes into view on the ninth, a brute of a par 4. From there, you zigzag your way home to the wonderful clubhouse. It’s pure joy throughout.
If you’re in Southport to play Royal Birkdale, you must head next door to Hillside, the host venue for the 2019 British Masters.
This course has always been lauded for its back nine, a glorious stretch of holes amongst the tall dunes. In a letter to the club, Greg Norman once described the holes on the run for home as ‘the best in Britain’.
However, the front nine isn’t exactly forgettable, and Martin Ebert’s recent work to enhance the opening set of holes has made a great course even stronger.
When you play here, you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster, heading this way and that, and some of the views from the elevated tees – you can see the Lake District and Snowdonia on a clear day – are spectacular.
5. Southport & Ainsdale
S&A has twice hosted the fledging Ryder Cup, first in 1933 and again four years later.
A warm welcome is guaranteed here, so you’ll be feeling nice and relaxed before teeing off on a par-3 – and it’s a beauty, playing around 200 yards to a heavily bunkered green.
You’ll need to hit it straight off the tee to score well, as the rough tends to gather anything off-line. There are so many memorable holes, although the par-5 16th will give you plenty to think about – and chat about after in the clubhouse.
‘Gumbleys’ is a brute. First, you must find the fairway, which isn’t easy when you have a railway line right, before you face a blind shot over a huge sleepered bank. ‘Intimidating’ is the word that comes to mind.
6. West Lancashire
West Lancs is the oldest club in Lancashire, and one of the ten oldest in England, boasting a history inextricably intertwined with Royal Liverpool’s. And like Hoylake, it tests every aspect of your game, especially when the wind is up.
Tommy Fleetwood enjoys the odd round here, and he’d probably tell you the same – it’s tough. In fact, even those holes that appear innocuous can trip you up.
On a clear day, you can see as far as Blackpool, and to the southwest there are equally pleasing views across the Crosby Channel to the Birkenhead Peninsula and Liverpool Bay.
7. St Annes Old Links
George Lowe, the club’s first professional and original architect of nearby Royal Lytham, designed the first nine holes here, with the second nine arriving following input from 1902 Open champion, Sandy Herd. As a result, you have a true championship links.
Many regard the ninth hole as its signature – a modest-lengthened par-3 to a large punchbowl green well protected by bunkers.
If you’re looking to play three courses that are near one another, you’d do well to play here, Fairhaven and, of course, Royal Lytham & St Annes. What a fine trio.
8. Silloth on Solway
The next course on our list is the most northerly course on England’s west coast – and what a beauty it is.
Silloth on Solway is undoubtedly this rugged county’s jewel in the crown. The nearby industry can’t spoil the experience of a round here – it’s too mesmerising.
In a standard southwesterly breeze, Silloth presents a game of two halves, and you’ll need to battle hard on the front nine. Even on a calm day, you’ll do well to evade the heather and gorse.
Tough it may be, but this wonderfully remote and idyllic setting will most certainly entice you back.
9. Formby Ladies
A lot of golfers will turn up, look and the scorecard and believe they can overpower Formby Ladies – a strategy that’s not considered too wise.
Put the driver away and see if you can plot your way round without encountering the heather, which is easy to find if you get too aggressive.
Combined with relatively small greens, it presents a superb test and rarely is it presented in anything but perfect condition. The par-3s are particularly good fun and demand precise ball striking and distance control.
It’s one of those courses you’d happily go and play again immediately after – albeit with a different game plan.
10. Royal Liverpool
England’s second oldest links has staged The Open on 12 occasions.
Rory McIlroy lifted the Claret Jug when it was last held on the Wirral Peninsula, and Hoylake will once again welcome the world’s best golfers in 2023.
Tiger Woods has fond memories of Hoylake, too – it’s here when he picked up the third of his Open titles in 2006. See if you can muster up a spectacular shot of your own at the 14th, which is where the great man holed a 4-iron from 225 yards.
This historic venue will make the hairs stand on the back of your neck, long before you tee off. When you do, and you might need to steady yourself given the famous turf on which you stand, you’ll need to be confident with that big stick, for this is a layout that places a real emphasis on strong drives.
Hesketh is surrounded by a number of world-class venues, but it’s well worth adding to your itinerary.
If you do take a trip to Southport (the course was originally called Southport Golf Club), don’t think you’re in for an easy ride. Hesketh is every bit as challenging as its famous neighbours.
On the elevated tee at the first, you can open your shoulders. Thereafter, and if you’re off-line a little, it’s easy to go back into your shell.
The course sits beside a nature reserve, and to the west, two holes border what has become a haven for wildfowl, which adds to the venue’s character and helps create one or two different holes. However, it’s very much links in nature for the most part.
This Open Championship qualifying venue can certainly hold its head high in exalted company.
This is where Frank Stableford devised his points scoring system, and if you’re going to accumulate a good number of these, you’ll need to drive it long and straight.
Originally designed by Old Tom Morris, Wallasey was later modified by Harold Hilton and James Braid.
It’s one fun place to play golf, especially over the front nine with several raised plateau greens and elevated tees.
Situated on the cusp of the Wirral Peninsula with views across the River Mersey, it’s one for the ‘must play’ list.
13. Delamere Forest
One of the attractions of Delamere, located in Cheshire, is that even after heavy rainfall, the greens play like they haven’t seen a drop in weeks.
The sandy foundation allows for year-round golf, and it looks a picture whenever you play here, too. This is heathland golf at its best.
Herbert Fowler designed the original course, and it’s also benefitted from some fabulous bunkering work by Tom Mackenzie. Many will remember the ninth and 18th holes, with their terrific clubhouse backdrops, as well as the risk/reward par-4 13th, a tempter of a short hole which is heavily bunkered.
You’ll find Fairhaven just two miles away from Royal Lytham & St Annes, and whilst its famous neighbour may grab the lion’s share of the plaudits, this wonderful venue has its own special aura.
Its greens are fast and slick, and James Braid’s distinctive bunkers pose a constant threat.
Although three miles from the sea, it’s a course that retains strong links characteristics, especially with its many revetted bunkers.
The five par-5s give you a chance to post a good score, but you’re only likely to do that if you can steer clear of those strategically placed traps.
Prestbury is right up there amongst the best courses in Cheshire. It possesses more than a hint of a heathland feel, whilst the elevation changes make for some wonderful holes.
It was Harry Colt who was tasked with creating the course a little over a hundred years ago, and he’s left his mark with a number of shelf greens on the third and fifth holes.
Many regard the par-4 ninth as the standout hole – it’s certainly one of the toughest, playing uphill to a long narrow green. Meanwhile, the 17th, which plays across a wide gully, is a terrific short hole.
If you’re looking for a parkland course to complement your links itinerary, be sure to head Macclesfield way.
Such is their significance, the four major golfing championships (the Masters, US PGA Championship, US Open, and the Open Championship) can often define a player’s career. If you didn’t already know, Jack Nicklaus has won 18 majors and Tiger Woods 15 at the time of writing. These are some impressive hauls, we think you’ll agree.
But though these elite golfers have made winning such prestigious prizes look easy, not every golfer manages to clinch a major.
And those who haven’t been able to win one have still had mightily impressive careers, as there’s no shortage of top-level competitions in professional golf.
In no particular order, here are the 14 best golfers never to win a major.
1. Bernard Gallacher
Bernard has been involved in golf for more than four decades and is one of golf’s most highly-respected names.
Despite never winning a major, Bernard still enjoyed a very fruitful golfing career, winning ten European Tour events and finishing in the top ten on the European Tour Order of Merit five times.
Now retired from playing professionally, Bernard has commentated on golf tournaments for broadcast outlets, including BBC Radio 5 Live. He’s also a PGA captain and has been awarded an OBE.
2. Colin Montgomerie
Although his name is synonymous with the Ryder Cup, Colin Montgomerie, or ‘Monty’ as he’s affectionately known, has never actually won a major.
Montgomerie, who hails from Scotland, played in eight Ryder Cups from 1991 to 2006, winning it an impressive five times. He’s also the joint record-holder for most single points won in Ryder Cup history (seven), alongside Neil Coles.
Montgomerie’s win-lose-draw record of 20-9-7 at the Ryder Cup also places him in an impressive fourth place on the all-time list for most points won by a golfer from the continent at the tournament.
On top of all that, he’s won 31 European Tour events – the most of any British golfer – and a record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles, seven of which were in consecutive years from 1993 to 1999.
It’s probably fair to say he’s never lost sleep over not winning a major.
3. Lee Westwood
Anyone who knows a thing or two about golf will be familiar with Lee Westwood.
Known for his solid consistency out on the green, he’s part of an elite group of golfers to win tournaments on five continents – Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
He’s won titles in four consecutive decades since the 1990s and represented Europe in ten Ryder Cups – so it’s safe to say his career has been everything but quiet.
In 2010, Westwood officially became the world number one, overtaking Tiger Woods and becoming the first British golfer to rank best in the world since Nick Faldo held the coveted position in 1994.
With 44 career wins at the time of writing, Westwood is widely considered one of the best golfers in history without a major championship victory. He’s also one of only two golfers to have held the world number one ranking without winning a major – Luke Donald being the other .
However, he’s finished runner-up three times at major championships – twice in the Masters (2010 and 2016) and once in the Open Championship (2010). He also won the European Tour Order of Merit in 2000.
In 2011, he was awarded an OBE in recognition of his services to golf.
4. Harry Cooper
Though you won’t be old enough to remember Harry Cooper from his actual playing days, you may be familiar with his legacy. And if you’re not, you’ll certainly remember his name after reading about him.
A legend of the 1920s and 1930s golf scene, Cooper bagged 30 PGA Tour victories during his long and impressive career in the sport.
After winning the inaugural Los Angeles Open in 1926 by completing the full 18 holes in just two-and-a-half hours, Cooper earned himself the nickname ‘Lighthorse Harry’.
Although he never won a major, he did win the 1934 Western Open, one of the world’s most important golf titles at the time. You could say he was a victim of his era.
After he retired from the professional game, Cooper became a highly-rated golf instructor, imparting his knowledge and expertise to golf’s next generation well into his 90s.
Cooper was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992 in recognition of his achievements in the sport, and he passed away in 2000, aged 96.
5. Paul Casey
Paul Casey enjoyed solid success in his amateur career, including three consecutive wins at the Pac-12 Championships. He also played a pivotal role in Great Britain and Ireland’s winning Walker Cup team in 1999, before turning professional and joining the European Tour in 2001.
From then on, Paul’s career continued to push boundaries and reach new heights. In his first season as a pro, Paul recorded a win at the Gleneagles Scottish PGA Championship, finished 22nd on the European Tour Order of Merit, and won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award – not bad.
Despite the lack of a major on his CV, Paul’s certainly been no stranger to a record or two. During the 1999 Walker Cup-winning campaign, he became only the third player in 77 years to record four victories without a single defeat.
And in 2006, Paul became the only golfer in Ryder Cup history to win a foursome match with a hole-in-one.
In 2009, he reached third in the Official World Golf Rankings – the highest position he’s held to date.
6. Doug Sanders
In terms of sheer style and swagger on the fairway, not many come close to the late, great Doug Sanders.
Nicknamed the ‘Peacock of the Fairways’ for his flamboyant, colourful dress sense, Sanders was named one of America’s ten best-dressed athletes by Esquire in 1972.
But he didn’t just walk the walk – Sanders talked the talk, too. Although he never won a major, he secured an impressive 13 top ten finishes at the various championships throughout his career. In fact, he finished runner-up at four majors – namely at the 1959 US PGA Championship, 1961 US Open, and the 1966 and 1970 Opens.
In 1966, he became one of the few players in golf history to finish in the top-ten of all four major championships in the same season, despite winning none.
This record is a testament to Sanders’ consistency and perseverance out on the green.
He died in April 2020, aged 86, but his distinctive, short, flat golf swing (and luminous outfits) will always be remembered.
7. Bruce Crampton
The term ‘nemesis’ isn’t one too commonly associated with golf – but it’s fair to say that Bruce Crampton had a nemesis in the form of Jack Nicklaus.
During his professional career, Crampton came runner-up in four major championships – one Masters, one US Open, and two US PGA Championships – all to Nicklaus.
However, the Australian enjoyed regular victories in tournaments such as the Australian Open, New Zealand PGA Championships, Philippine Open, and the Far East Open. In fact, he won 20 times on the Champions Tour and even topped the ‘money list’ in the mid-‘80s.
Crampton was ranked in the world’s top five golfers in 1972 and 1973 and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2001.
He also represented his country at the Golf World Cup five times from 1957 to 1972.
8. Luke Donald
Luke Donald turned professional in 2001 and made his debut at the Reno-Tahoe Open in California. From there, he continued to hone his craft to become one of the best golfers in the world.
Just four years after turning pro, in 2005, Donald made his Masters debut and finished in joint third-place – an almost unthinkable result for a first-timer.
As a result of his display at the 2005 Masters, he jumped an almighty 117 places in the golf world rankings, from 130th to 13th.
He spent a cumulative total of 56 weeks as world number one between 2011 and 2012 with more than 200 weeks spent in the world’s top ten, beginning at the same time – proving that consistency is key.
He and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood are the only two golfers to have ranked number one in the world despite never having won a major.
Donald was awarded an MBE in 2012 in recognition of his achievements and services to golf.
9. Rickie Fowler
Another golfer known for his colourful dress sense, Rickie Fowler is no stranger to a pair of bright orange chinos.
In fact, it’s become a Fowler tradition to wear orange on the final day of a tournament in honour of Oklahoma State University, where he studied.
Despite only being in his early thirties at the time of writing, Fowler has risen right to the top and achieved some impressive feats.
Before turning professional in 2009, Rickie was once the number one ranked amateur golfer in the world – a title he held for 36 weeks between 2007 and 2008.
As a pro, Fowler won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in 2016 to leap to a career-high of fourth in the world overall.
Fowler has finished runner-up at three majors – namely the Masters in 2018, US Open and the Open Championship in 2014, and the Open Championship. He also finished third at the US PGA Championship in 2014.
10. Ian Poulter
With a father and older brother who are both keen golfers, Ian Poulter has been surrounded by golf his entire life. As such, it’s no wonder he’s had such an enviable career in the sport.
He started playing golf aged just four and had turned professional by the time he reached his 19th birthday.
Poulter’s first professional win came in 1999 at the Open de Côte d’Ivoire as part of the European Tour’s second-tier challenge tour. Later that year, he qualified for the European Tour itself. He has since won 12 events on the Tour, at the time of writing.
To date, Ian’s career highlights include his two World Golf Championship wins at the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions.
Although success at the majors has, so far, evaded him, Poulter came runner-up at the 2008 Open Championship and has finished in the top ten of major tournaments eight times.
11. Jay Haas
At his professional peak, Jay Haas, or Jaybird as he’s otherwise known, had a reputation for being one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour. In fact, he competed in just shy of 800 events throughout his career.
Since turning professional in the mid-‘70s, Jay has more than made up for his lack of a major.
He won an impressive nine titles on the PGA Tour between 1978 and 1993, and he finished in the top five at three majors – the 1995 US Open, the 1995 Masters, and the 1999 US PGA Championship.
Nine-time PGA Tour winner Matt Kuchar is another of the ‘major-less’ greats.
Once ranked fourth-best in the world, he’s also proved one of the highest earners in the sport too. He ended the 2018-19 season with mouthwatering career earnings of more than $50m.
Matt represented the US at the Ryder Cup in 2010, and he made history at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio by becoming the first recipient of an Olympic bronze medal for golf for more than 100 years. Not since 1904 had such a feat been achieved.
Though a major is yet to grace his trophy cabinet, Matt has had several close shaves – his second-place finish at the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club being the closest of them all.
13. Jeff Maggert
If you live on a golf course as a child, chances are you’re going to grow up with an interest in golf. That was the case for Jeff Maggert, anyway.
A Texas upbringing laid the first foundations for a man that would later become one of the best golfers never to win a major.
Maggert turned professional in 1986 and, by the early ‘90s, had already witnessed success both at home and overseas. He won the Malaysian Open in 1989 and the very first Vines Classic in 1990 – an event held on the Australasian Tour until 2005.
During his career, Maggert represented the US three times at the Ryder Cup and once at the Presidents Cup.
At the 2003 Masters tournament, he was the 54-hole leader, with victory looking well within reach. However, a disappointing final round, which included triple and quintuple bogeys and two balls in the water, meant he ended up in fifth place – which to this day remains his best career finish at the tournament.
Maggert has finished in the top five at the majors eight times in his career. Namely:
4x US Open: 1995, 1997, 2002, 2004
2x PGA Championship: 1995, 1997
Open Championship: 1996
14. Sam Torrance
Sam Torrance’s transatlantic and European triumphs more than make up for his lack of a major title. His distinctive, daring, long driving, and accurate short iron playing style certainly proved fruitful on that front.
From 1981 to 1995, Sam played in eight straight matches and was Europe’s winning Ryder Cup captain in 2002. In 1985, he sank the winning putt to deny the US their first title for almost 30 years, and two years later, in 1987, Sam was part of the Europe side which tasted victory on American soil for the first time in history.
With 21 wins on the European Tour, only Colin Montgomerie has accumulated more without also winning a major.
Sam also represented Scotland eleven times at the Golf World Cup and has been awarded an MBE and OBE for his outstanding contributions to the sport.
When the sun sets early and frost touches grass, many golfers call it a day. Little do they know, playing golf in winter can be most enjoyable. The clear winter mornings, quieter courses and fabulous deals can make it feel like you’ve hit the jackpot.
What’s more, if you want to improve your game, giving up completely during winter is not the way to go about it. To ensure you hit the ground running when the new season starts, here are 9 ways you can keep your game up to scratch when playing golf in winter…
1. Keep playing
Yes, it might sound obvious – but keeping up the momentum is vital at this time of year. Apart from anything else, you’re likely to improve your skill by testing yourself when playing conditions are at their most trying.
You’ll learn to perfect a wide range of shots when you’re braving the elements, whether it’s the low punch into the January wind or the runner that scampers across a frozen fairway to find an icy winter green.
Playing at your best requires feeling comfortable in what you’re wearing. Here are some of the essential garments to help you brave the winter weather and keep your game at an optimum level…
Wet weather gloves – keeping your hands warm and dry is essential when playing golf. These gloves are a great purchase because the more wet they get, the firmer the grip, making holding your clubs a lot easier.
Efficient base layer – Wearing layers upon layers is likely to limit your movement, particularly your golf swing. But at the same time, you don’t want to allow your body to stiffen up in the cold. That’s why a thin base layer is the way forward.
Thermal socks – Wearing more than one pair of socks, or a thick pair of winter socks is likely to make all the difference to your body temperature.
3. Have the correct equipment
Playing golf in winter comes with unpredictability, so having equipment that can tackle a range of climates – from wind and rain to frost – is essential. Take a look at the gear you need to make your time on the course more enjoyable this winter…
Purchase some winter wheels – they’ll pick up less mud making them easier to move and they’ll also cause less damage to the ground. Though if you can, ditch the golf buggy and carry your bag. The course will thank you for it and you’ll be a lot warmer.
Use a high vis yellow ball – they are a lot easier to spot and nowadays there are some premium model balls in yellow, such as Titleist and Srixon.
Add loft to your driver – when the ground is boggy and soft your ball simply won’t roll as much. Adding loft to your driver will add more carry and distance.
Umbrella – how can we make a list of essential winter golf equipment and leave off a brolly? Rain, sleet or snow, a good-sized umbrella will ensure you stay dry and protect your bag when you’re taking your shot.
4. Keep your golf balls warm
It’s believed that for every ten degrees the temperature drops, a golf ball will carry two yards shorter. If this is the case, you’ll want to keep your golf balls toasty on the course. Keep them in your pocket as much as possible and even throw a hand warmer in there for extra measure.
Having said that, the construction of certain balls makes them ideal for cold weather. Check out this article to find out which balls hold up best in winter and why.
5. Make the most of the driving range
We’re all guilty of making excuses for not going outside in the cold winter months. It’s definitely easier if you’re heading down to a covered (and sometimes heated) driving range.
Visit the driving range as often as possible and work out a practice routine – don’t just bludgeon balls wildly without an objective in mind. Pick a flag or other spot to aim at and work your way through the clubs, hitting different types of shots.
6. Take lessons
Whether at the driving range, down at the club’s practice area or on the deserted course, a series of lessons could make all the difference to your golfing fortunes next season.
The off-season is the perfect time to make changes to your game – you don’t want to make major alterations when competitions are just around the corner.
If you’re not sure where to turn, a simple Google search like “golf lessons near me” will do the trick.
7. Use a golf simulator
Golf simulators are a great way to help your game and let’s face it – practising indoors is a lot more appealing. Although indoor simulators aren’t great for putting, they are fantastic for driving and iron shots.
If you are really into golf, you could purchase your own simulator and practise in your own home. From the value SkyTrak to the state of the art aboutGolf’s Curve, there are plenty of options out there.
It’s amazing how much you can learn about golf without actually swinging a club or hitting a ball. There are many instructional books that might just strike a chord or spark a thought that could change your game. If not, re-watching golf tournaments or YouTube videos may help you pick up on strategies that will help your game.
No matter what level you play at, there’s a golf ball that will suit your game. Selecting the right one shouldn’t be overlooked, for it’s the one piece of equipment you use on every shot.
Just because you’re a high handicapper, your equipment choice isn’t any less important. In fact, high handicappers have a huge amount to gain from playing with a golf ball that suits their swing and ability.
First of all, what kind of high handicapper are you? For example – not everyone with a 20 plus handicap, or thereabouts, swings the club slowly or struggles for distance.
Often, players hovering around 20 or higher lose more shots around the green and don’t actually require a ball that delivers explosive distance.
That’s why the best balls for high handicappers comprise a selection of models that offer different performance benefits.
These balls can all be purchased for under £30.00 because, generally speaking, high handicappers struggle for consistency and can get through a fair amount of ‘ammo’.
Here are the 8 best golf balls for high handicappers.
The latest Warbird features an extra-large, high energy core with a revolutionary Hex aerodynamic cover for exceptional carry distance and improved flight.
A thin ionomer cover adds an element of feel, but this two-piece ball is aimed at players seeking more distance. If you’re someone who tends to lose a few balls, and you need help getting it out there, £1.25 per ball represents very good value.
While many golfers will be drawn to the Titleist Pro V1, the manufacturer’s flagship model, high handicapper golfers would do well to start with its least expensive option.
The entry-level TruSoft represents a very good all-rounder; it’s a ball that offers improved driver distance compared to the previous model. In fact, it should deliver extra distance in the long game full stop.
While it may feel soft, it doesn’t possess the same short game control as premium balls, but there’s still plenty to like about it, including a new side stamp design, which helps with alignment on the green, plus it’s available in yellow and red.
The Pinnacle name goes back a long way, and in the Rush, you have a very good value distance ball – perfect for beginners as well as high handicappers.
As is the case with many distance balls, it has a high-energy core, which helps generate fast ball speeds through the bag. For anyone looking for a consistent, more powerful flight, the Rush is well worth trying.
The Soft Feel – now the 12th generation – is one of Srixon’s most popular models. It’s aimed more at golfers with moderate swing speeds, with a core designed to ‘snap back’ into shape more quickly after impact for extra ball speed.
At the same time, this will reduce long-game sidespin, which can be especially useful for higher handicappers who struggle for accuracy. More fairways hit, and your scoring should start to improve.
The Mizuno RB566 ball is designed primarily for distance and is suitable for those with mid to slow swing speeds.
Its core generates a straighter, more stable ball flight, while the 566 micro-dimple design delays the rate of descent to help players gain valuable extra yards. It might sound complex but simply put, good strikes should stay in the air longer.
Its durability is another plus, and as well as white, it’s available in yellow and orange – so, in theory, they stand a better chance of lasting longer.
The Srixon AD333 has been on the market for nearly 20 years, and its popularity shows no sign of slowing down.
It features a Fast-Layer Core, which starts soft in the centre and gets progressively firmer towards the outer edge to maximise speed while keeping the spin low.
Meanwhile, the 338 Speed Dimple Pattern helps reduce drag through the air to create a more penetrating ball flight. It might lack a urethane cover, but it still offers good short game control, which makes it one of the best all-rounders on the market.
TaylorMade’s RBZ Soft offers good all-round performance and is wallet-friendly. The fast REACTcore is designed to store and release energy efficiently throughout the bag, helping golfers eke out extra yards.
As well as that, the LDP 342 high-lift, low drag dimple design promotes a high launch and keeps the ball up in the air longer for optimum distance. Higher handicappers should also find that the Iothane cover offers a decent amount of feel, which is a big plus for the short game.
Most of us probably spend a fair bit of time seated – perhaps even more so over the last couple of years, when lockdowns have meant lots of Zoom calls and hours upon hours in front of computers.
While being seated is not bad for us, it can mean we lose range of motion in certain parts of the body, as strength and conditioning coach Jamie Greaves explains.
As well as causing general aches and pains on a day-to-day basis, this can also have a detrimental effect on our golf swing, especially where the hips are concerned.
Think about it: we load into our trailside during the backswing, and as you come through into impact, you’re internally rotating that lead hip. So, in terms of the swing mechanics, hip exercises for golf are extremely important – at least if you’re serious about swinging your best.
If you can get that big hip turn, you can generate a lot of power – and more power equals more distance. We’ve all seen the best players in the world – they have that incredibly fast hip unwind.
While it might be a stretch to say the following exercises will give you 20 extra yards – perhaps not initially, at least – there’s no doubt these 5 exercises for golfers can help you produce a more powerful and effective swing.
Here, Jamie Greaves offers his top 5 hip exercises for golfers.
1. Frog Pumps
Start in the frog position, with the wrists under the shoulders, the knees as wide as you can go, and the feet in line with the knees, with the inside of each foot flat to the floor.
Then, gently pulse backwards towards the heels with each repetition. Be mindful not to round or extend excessively through the spine as you push back.
You also want to be careful to go slow each time and through as much range as you can.
This exercise is really going to open up your hips. It might not be one to do on the first tee, but give it a go at home, and it can work wonders for your golf!
2. Doorknob Squat
Start standing, holding onto a squat rack (or something similar). Slowly walk your hands down the rack, coming into the bottom part of your squat using the rack for some assistance to help improve range of motion and form.
It’s important to hold at the bottom before walking the hands back and repeating the process.
As you perform repetitions, ensure that you don’t round excessively through the spine or sit back too far as you hold on too much. You are using the assistance of the rack to help improve the pattern, but you don’t want to rely on it.
To progress the movement, simply let go of the bottom position before standing up to take ownership of that position.
If you do this exercise properly, you’ll feel as though you’re pushing the ground apart as you perform repetitions to give you room for the hips to sink down.
You must be careful not to shift to one side as you move or let the knees cave in excessively. Push the ground apart, keep the chest proud, and use the rack to improve range of motion and form.
3. Bear Sit Rotations
This is a nice simple exercise to perform at home – and it’s really effective.
In the ‘bear sit position’, your knees are bent, heels are pressed into the ground, and the torso is nice and upright.
The aim is to gently rotate the hips internally so that the knees come together and then externally to split the knees.
Perform the exercise slowly and ensure that you feel the movement in the hips and not in the knees.
Begin in a standing posture and hold on for balance. Then, kick one leg back to get as long from head to toe as possible.
Work on keeping the standing leg stable and simply rotate everything else as much as possible one way and then the other.
It’s important to try and keep your original starting posture as best as you can and just rotate while staying strong on the standing leg.
Repeat the movement on the other side – and there you have your airplanes!
5. Standing Hip CAR (Controlled Articular Rotation)
Begin standing and take hold of something that can help you stay balanced.
Then, flex one knee up as high as you can, and open out from the hip. From here, bring the foot up as high as you can to internally rotate the hip as the leg moves behind you.
Reverse the process to complete one repetition. Imagine a hurdle on the outside of your body that you’re trying to clear in one direction and then the other.
As you perform the movement, make sure you minimise the torso lean and tilting from the body, and keep a 90° angle between the ankle, knee and hip the whole time.
Focus on going slow and controlled, so you can really feel the movement in the hip joint. The goal should be to perform two repetitions in each direction on both sides.
Can Senior Golfers Perform These Exercises?
The beauty of these hip exercises is that they’re scalable.
As Greaves explains, you don’t have to look like that person in the gym who performs every move perfectly.
For example, take the standing hip CAR.
“You might not be able to get your knee up to above hip level,” says Greaves, who works with golfers of all levels.
“As you make a circle, it might only be fairly small to start with.
“You might also have a bit of trunk lean, and whilst this is not perfect, if you’re really immobile, it might just help you to get going.”
Greaves’ top exercise tips for senior golfers?
“Scale it to an appropriate level for you, and don’t be put off by these exercises because you can improve over time.”
For more golf exercises and advice on how you can improve your game, visit jggolffitness.co.uk.