ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – With winds forecast to reach 40 mph on Friday at the Open Championship players were factoring the demanding conditions into their preparations for this week’s event.
It was interesting, however, that it is just not ball flight and trajectory that needs to be fine-tuned to deal with the gale. Putting, according to various sources, is also impacted by the high coastal winds.
“Downwind putts can be a foot and a half, 2 feet faster,” said Colin Swatton, Jason Day’s caddie/swing coach.
Speed is the primary issue, judging the distance for either into or downwind putts, but the line of putts can also be impacted by the breeze.
“It’s so rare that you have to read wind on a line so you take in the line and you have to be thinking where is the wind coming from,” said Denis Pugh, a longtime swing coach on the European Tour. “Certainly on Friday afternoon when the wind gets to 40 mph you’ll be playing the wind as well.”
Those calculations are even more important at St. Andrews, which is unique among the Open rota courses because of its lack of large mounding, which acts as a wind barrier at other links golf courses.
Pugh said players will spend more time practicing their lag putting at St. Andrews than they will at any other event.
“There is a lot more time hitting putts that are 30 or 40 paces. When you see a putt from 40 or 50 feet finish 4 feet away they’ve done a good job,” he said. “Four footers are like tap-ins anywhere else.”