If you’re planning a golf trip this summer—or ever—check your bag before departing for any clubs ill-suited to the destination. Different courses, climates, and conditions call for a different set make-up. We canvassed experienced golf travelers for advice on fine-tuning equipment to the elements.
In The Wind
Less loft on the driver. If you play an adjustable driver, reduce the loft a degree or two. Also consider carrying two drivers, which is what Tom Olsavsky, head of R&D at Cobra does. “I play my normal driver downwind and switch to the stronger lofted one into the wind. The key is that the drivers should be the same except for the loft; you don’t want to be changing your swing, too.”
Take a long iron. Find that 2- or 3-iron in the basement and put it in the bag replacing a hybrid, which is designed to hit the ball high and, therefore, get blown around in the wind.
Low-trajectory balls. Look for balls with dimple patterns and constructions designed for lower spin and lower flight.
Sand and Grass
Research the types of sand and grass you’ll confront and adjust your irons, especially wedges, accordingly.
“The more the clubhead could dig deep into the sand—because it’s fluffy, there’s too much sand in the bunker, or it’s very fine particle sand—the better to have either more bounce on the wedge or a wider sole, or in extreme cases, both,” explains clubmaker Tom Wishon. “And the less the clubhead will dig in—in coarse or heavy sand, large particle sand, shallow sand in the bunkers—you want less bounce and a narrower sole.”
On links courses, where the turf is firm and short, use irons and wedges with less bounce and a more rounded leading edge, letting you clip the ball cleanly. Those same clubs will work better in bunkers on most links courses, which tend to have heavy sand and not much of it. From pot bunkers and other deep pits, a high-lofted wedge will help.
In hot climates, grasses tend to be the “creeping” type that can grab a clubhead. Irons with more bounce and a more rounded sole front to back should move through those grasses easily.
In the Mountains
“Playing at altitude is usually the opposite of playing a links course,” says Olsavsky. “Add loft to your longest clubs to take advantage of the lower density air.”
In the Desert
Bring an old club or two—we recommend a wedge and a midiron—to hit off the desert floor.
On Wide Fairways
Consider a driver with a longer shaft if there’s lots of room: The extra length should produce longer, but also wider, drives. Conversely, on a tight course, a shorter-shafted driver will be more accurate.
Off Pine Needles
In places like Pinehurst, where courses feature needles, straw, and other loose material off the fairways, use a hybrid. Its wide sole will move through that stuff more easily than a long iron. Also consider shoes with spikes rather than rubber nubs, which might slip on the loose footing.