Talking to Your Shots 

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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Lee Trevino once said, “You can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen”, and truer words have never been uttered. As we all either mentally or verbally urge our golf shots to finish in favorable positions, the real magic of the game becomes a reality. For this discussion those of you who can spin the ball both ways and control trajectory this will not apply. But, if you have these skills you have won US Opens and we are glad you’re reading Arizona Golfer. 

If you normally move the ball from left to right (fade) then winds from the right are great as you keep the ball in play. Quartering winds from the right are also good as iron shots land much more softly and give you a chance to score. Now a quartering wind from our left will become very troublesome and a crosswind left to right real trouble. Let’s look at the troubling shots now. How do you play these shots? First try to realistically identify your ability to stop the ball somewhere close to your target. A ball traveling the correct yardage moves about 1/3 that distance sideways due to wind. This means if you fade the ball say 10 yards and the cross wind is 35 MPH, the target is 140 yards away with trouble on the right and you’re hitting say a 5 iron, you need to aim approximately 60-70 yards left of the target. This aim point would allow for the sideways path of the ball, due to wind, to fade to finish left and then roll towards the target. We must admit… correctly and realistically aiming is difficult. Also, your ball will wind up short, but this is a different discussion. Hit one more club is a starting mantra. 

The safe play would be a lay up left, which is better than being in a bunker or water right. Bunker shots into a wind are literally a mouth full. When you’re trying to keep the ball down seldom take a full swing. Full swings tend to develop the most side and back spin, both of which are determents to side winds. Take more club and swing forward slower than normal. I must mention that for right handed players the left to right wind may also move you out of balance as it is hitting your back, so widen your stance some and ground yourself before you start the swing. Keeping the backswing shorter will help with maintaining balance during the swing. 

Finally, do not try to hit miracle shots, a flop down wind is a disguised triple bogey. The lower chip shot while not pretty is a reality for a good score. If I must go over a bunker to a pin, with a wind at my back, I always look at the trouble over the green as that is where I most likely will wind up. I now look at the sides of the green and determine which one provides the best putting angle, now factor in ‘is it better to have the wind hitting me left or right side as I putt’. Most of us have better balance with wind hitting our non-dominate side.  

Many great articles exist on how to play in the wind so let me leave you with this bit of experience. As the wind goes up so do scores, as the landscape moves (dust) so does the ball so as we only have this day to play golf just enjoy each individual challenge. Giggle at your playing partners woes and know that it’s great to have friends as crazy as you. 

Look for me on the course when it’s windy, I will be the guy helping others look for shots. Ball in Pocket.         

Tom Velarde is a Golf Professional at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email