Downwind approach shots demand more adjustment than many players make. You almost always have to allow for more wind than you think. The ball will go farther and lower and will run more after it hits the ground. Sometimes you need to land the ball short of the green if it’s open in front. 

The 12th hole at Royal Aberdeen in the 2005 Senior British Open was an example of the ball running downwind. I had about 200 yards to the front edge of the green. The first day I hit a 6-iron, and the ball went about 240. The next two days I hit a 7-iron down the same wind, and it was the right club. It landed 30 yards short of the green and rolled probably another 50 yards. 

The key to hitting downwind is to swing full speed to spin the ball more and fly it higher. It’s hard to do because the breeze flattens the trajectory, even though the ball will travel farther with the added roll. And downwind shots are even tougher today because the new balls spin less. 

So throttle up your swing speed—staying in control—to create more spin. Swing easier into the wind, swing harder with the wind. Game of opposites? Yes. And remember the roll. Think of carrying the ball to the front of the green or short of the green if it’s open in front. 

Thoughts FROM Tom 

Plan ahead on windy days – Always think two shots ahead playing in the wind. Ask yourself where you want to be if you miss a fairway or green, for the easiest recovery shot.