If you love golf and live in a part of the United States where it gets cold in the late fall and through the winter, then you probably have your winter golf rubric, meaning the minimum weather conditions that have to be met to be willing to play some golf. For me, it's a temperature of at least 45 degrees and no precipitation, because frozen stuff hurts.
However, even if you know how warm it has to be for you to play some winter golf, you still need the right clothes to get through a winter golf round as comfortably as possible. Winter golf is no fun if you're shivering the whole way, can't feel your face after six holes and feel like you're swinging the club wearing a fat suit because you have on so many layers. Modern advances in fabrics and warming technologies mean you can get your hands on some apparel that will make playing in colder temperatures not all that much less comfortable than playing in summer warmth.
Here's a look at our absolute must-haves for winter golf.
Ansai Mobile Warming golf vest or soft shell jacket: A few years ago, my father-in-law told me about this vest he had purchased from his local pro shop. It was a warming vest with filaments run throughout insides, and the filaments connected to a battery pack from which you could control how warm the jacket got using the four available settings. It was amazing. He bought me one for Christmas that year, and it's been a product I have recommended ever since. Ansai makes the Mobile Warming line of products that are perfect for golf, including the vest I use and the soft shell jacket they offer, designed specifically for golf.
The battery pack charges pretty quickly with an AC adapter and, on a full charge, can last through the entire round on the warmest setting. After a while, you'll bring down the heat a bit, and you'll finish the round feeling great instead of like you just went through the Iditarod.
Since I first got my vest, they've expanded the offering, so they have a vest, jackets, warming socks, gloves and base layers. I recommend all of it.
A thick winter golf beanie/hat/toque: I'm a bald guy, so having a proper winter golf hat is a must. I lose a lot of heat through my skull, and a good hat keeps my head warm and less concerned about those cold winter breezes. A lot of companies, including Imperial, Titleist and Mizuno, make very good winter golf hats. You're going to pay anywhere from $25-$30 for a good one.
You have some choices. You have to decide if you want cotton or are OK with wool, which isn't really itchy anymore. You also need to decide the liner inside your hat. Fleece liners are the most comfortable but can take on a lot of sweat if your head gets too warm. Otherwise, though, you might soak the outer material, which is worse. In my view, a pom is a must, but your mileage may vary.
Winter golf gloves: Personally, I do not use winter golf gloves often. If it's that cold, I'm staying home. But, I have a pair in my bag just in case I'm out there in a winter round of golf and the temperature suddenly drops into that too-cold range but I'm not ready to leave.
You have a lot of options in winter golf gloves, often referred to as thermal gloves. They're almost always black and/or gray all over. Many have fleece lining on the inside for extra warmth. The part covering the top of your hand is a little thicker than your standard cabretta leather glove, and that's to keep precipitation and wind off your skin. The leather on the palm is usually a little thicker, too, than your normal golf glove and has a pattern or coating to help with your grip.
These gloves run from $20-$40 per pair, depending on the features you want, the longevity you want and other factors, including if it has a velcro closure or a cuff system.
The right pair of performance wool socks: Complete the outfit with a proper pair of performance wool socks. Check out Kentwool socks. They company was founded by wool farmers/makers who have done this for 150 years. They know how to make wool work for golfers. The wool blend is amazing. The padding is in all the right places, and the socks hold up for years. I've never thrown away a pair of Kentwool socks for any reason, and I pretty much play golf in no other pair of socks, any time of the year. I even have their dress socks. The shin-high socks cost about $20-$25 per pair, but, like I said, you'll wear them for at least 5 years, if not longer.