How to hit into the wind and deal with headwind
A question that you ask yourself at the latest when you stand on the fairways in Scotland is: "How do I play with a strong headwind?" And fortunately the GC Quad allows us to pursue exactly this question. Because it simulates such scenarios like no other simulator. For the following test we had the task to hit a target 85m away at 30mph headwind. For our test player 85m is about three quarters of a sand-wedge. But it's impossible to think about that under these wind conditions. The choice fell on an 8 iron and as it turns out, it was not so bad.
Full stroke with an 8 iron
The full stroke was performed at 88mph, which normally allows our tester lengths of about 145-150m. In this wind the ball carried 82m and then rolled back 2m. What we see with this shot is the classic: high spin, high launch and the ball develops into a balloon. The ball rises and rises and it feels like it is already coming back at some point. You probably know this feeling. In this scenario it is actually reality and the ball is in the air, then falls to the ground like a stone and rolls back mainly because of the wind and the high spin.
In short, even with the right choice of club, the full stroke may not be the optimal shot. Therefore our consideration is to make a flatter shot with less spin.
With this shot we take the ball a little further towards the right foot, align ourselves a little further to the left and make a shorter but consistent swing. The result: 11mph less clubhead speed, 2° less launch and 1500rpm less spin. This means we keep the ball flatter and produce less spin. The result is 86m carry, 4m more than with the full swing. And all that with 11mph less speed.
This means that we produce more length and use less power. In addition, this shot is much easier to control for experienced players. And that is also urgently necessary. Because the wind has a brutal effect on misses. Slight deviations to the left or right or a little too much "side spin" make sure that the ball goes far out of direction. Even at only 85m you can miss the green by far.
The Punch is therefore basically already the most optimal shot, but you have to admit that it is not so easy for every golfer. After all, the ball position, the alignment and the swing have to be changed. Fortunately there is a much easier alternative.
The gentle, soft, full swing
Our next shot was a very full, calm swing with what felt like 90% speed of a normal shot. This shot was made with 10mph less clubhead speed. And that feels like you're trying to avoid accelerating. You just let the club slide very easily.
The result speaks for itself: 84m carry with 1° less launch and 1300rpm less spin compared to a full shot.
Again, 10mph less clubhead speed and still more length than the full shot. This shot is therefore almost as efficient as the complicated punch and is very easy for most players to execute.
Our result: how do you play the ball in a headwind scenario?
As we have seen, the full stroke is absolutely inefficient. The solution can't be to simply take longer clubs and hit it hard. This way you produce the exact stroke you can't control in a headwind - both in length and direction.
Both the flat punch and the gentle swing are much more efficient. It depends on the player what type of shot is easier and reproducible for him. The execution of a punch should be both learned and practiced. It is not something you learn on the plane to Edinburgh.
The big question "how many clubs should you take more" is practically impossible to answer and depends on too many factors. Not only the wind itself but also the player. Especially from individual factors like Angle of Attack, Dynamic Loft, club head speed, etc. That would be a question that can only be answered by own experience.