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A Lesson Learned: Golf in the wind

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In a thrilling end to the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Sang-Moon Bae battled back and then hung on to win his first PGA Tour title. A great ending to an always special event. Congrats to Bae!

What I found so impressive with Bae's performance wasn't just that he had to chase down Keegan Bradley (who opened the tournamnet with an amazing 60 (with two bogeys!) on Thursday) but also how he regained his composure after he lost a four-shot lead on the final day. And it wasn't just that he was battling his nerves and former major championship winner in Bradley - he was doing it in wind gusts that were blowing near 40 mph!

And that leads us to this week's "A Lesson Learned". Trust me, if there's one thing we golfers in Kansas know all about - it's playing in the wind.

We could talk (write?) forever about playing in strong wind. But I want to keep it simple here, just offer a few thoughts that I want you to remember the next time you tee it up under gusty conditions.

1.) When hitting into the wind:
- Take more club: Don't be afraid to go one or even two or three clubs up. The worst thing you can do is swing harder so more club, less loft, is your friend.
- Grip down on the club, make a shorter backswing: Again, making too big of a swing will destroy your chances of hitting the golf ball the proper distance. Control is essential.
- Move the ball back in your stance: flighting the ball lower and making more a more controlled swing will give you the best chance of achieving your desired distance with the shot at hand.

2.) When hitting with the wind behind you:
- Remember that the wind will actually affect the higher shots the most - so short iron shots may show more effect than the longer irons.
- Controlling distance with your irons means you may still want a lower ball flight.
- It will be harder to stop your shot so play the roll out when determining distance.

3.) Hitting into a cross wind:
- If you can work the ball in directions, you want to work the ball INTO the wind.
- If you can't, obviously adjust your aim accordingly with the direction of the wind.
- A controlled, on balance swing is still the best swing for you.
- Flighting the ball lower will still be an advantage for you.

Obviously, there's many variables that go into playing a shot in strong wind. But these tips should give you a solid foundation and a better chance for a good golf shot. Playing in strong wind is never easy, but if you remember these pointers and keep your poise, you'll have a better chance than others who try to overpower the wind regardless of how it's blowing.

I hope these tips help and you play the best golf of your life in 2013!

Blake Graham is the PGA Head Professional at Hallbrook Country Club in Leawood, Kansas. Graham is a 3-time Midwest Section PGA Player of the Year and will be a competitor in the 2013 PGA Professional Nat'l Championship at Sunriver Resort in June. You can follow Graham on Twitter at@BlakeGrahamPGA

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