Golf waterproofs: what to look for when buying waterproofs for golf

Buying waterproofs for golf is not as simple as you might think, so let us help you wade through the various options available.

Galvin Green Apollo Jacket
(Image credit: Galvin Green)

Golf is hard even in perfect conditions, but golfing in the rain can be a miserable experience if you don't have the right waterproof clothing. Finding the right clothing can be tricky as there are so many things to consider. Luckily for you, we have come up with this handy guide to help you in your quest to stay warm and dry out on the course.

Bad weather is an occupational hazard for golfers in the British Isles who are at risk of a soaking irrespective of whether they are playing in the summer or the winter. Spring and autumn are usually wet too for that matter. 

The point is, it rains a lot and if you are out on the golf course there is nowhere to take shelter other than under your umbrella. Sadly, you can’t hit shots from under an umbrella so you have to venture out at some point.

Therefore it makes sense to take the proper precautions and protect yourself by investing in some reliable wet weather gear. Shopping for the best golf waterproofs is not a simple task as there are many factors to consider before purchasing. Do you need a full suit or just a jacket? What is the difference between water resistant and waterproof, and which one is better? Does more expensive mean higher quality?

The answer to that last question, sadly, is yes. When it comes to waterproof clothing expensive does invariably mean better. That isn't always the case with golf equipment where the best driver for your game is not necessarily the one with the loftiest price. When it comes to waterproofs, however, the expression “you get what you pay for” is usually accurate.

The best waterproof clothing will usually come with an eye popping price tag but you will understand why if you try them. Whether you should splash out on the best available or settle for something cheaper depends entirely on your budget and personal preference though.

Some golfers would much prefer to spend their hard earned cash on a new putter or the best GPS golf watch and there’s nothing wrong with that as, let’s face it, that's a whole lot more exciting than buying a set of waterproofs.

You don’t need to spend several hundred pounds to stay dry but there are significant benefits if you do. The higher end waterproofs will make golf much easier when you’re faced with testing weather conditions, whereas cutting corners and going for the cheaper option can have the opposite effect.

So here is our guide to explain the different categories of gear available and to help you ensure that bad weather doesn’t necessarily mean bad golf. 

Waterproof

PING SensorDry 2.5 Waterproof Jacket

(Image credit: PING)

Put simply, if a garment is listed as being waterproof, then no water is getting in. You can stand there and have a bucket of water thrown over you and nothing is getting through a waterproof garment. Not from the outside anyway.

This is where the marvels of modern technology come in. Waterproof garments have a membrane woven directly into the material with openings small enough to exclude liquid, but large enough to allow water vapour and air to circulate. So it keeps the rain out while allowing the moisture on the inside to escape. Clever, eh?

Gore-tex is the most commonly used material and is by far the most effective waterproof fabric. It is also the most expensive but when you put on a gore-tex jacket on you can immediately see why they cost that bit more. Polyester is also extremely effective and comes in considerably cheaper.

If you are thinking of buying an expensive set of waterproofs there are plenty to choose from and it can be quite daunting if you aren't sure what you are looking for. So in order to narrow down the options you need to first consider what your requirements are. 

For example, if you tend to shut it down for the winter and rarely play when the temperature plummets, you’d be best served with the lightest jacket you can find. Something that you can wear in a summer shower but that is also versatile enough to keep out an autumn breeze. 

Check out our review of the PING SensorDry 2.5, a lightweight, waterproof and windproof jacket that ticks all the right boxes for summer golf.

If you play all year around then you'll want something a little heavier that will keep you warm and dry, but that is still light enough to not hamper your golf swing.

Water Resistant

Callaway Green Grass Waterproof Jacket

(Image credit: Callaway)

Ok, this is important; water resistant (sometimes called rainproof or showerproof) is not the same as waterproof. There is a considerable difference between them, both in terms of performance and price. 

Whereas ‘waterproof’ will protect you from even the severest of elements, ‘water resistant’ has some limitations. Put it this way, you don’t want someone throwing that bucket of water over you when you’re wearing ‘rainproof’ gear instead of ‘waterproof’.

This is because of the fabric used. Whereas waterproof material has that breathable membrane woven in, water resistant materials do not have that membrane but are instead treated with a water repellent which means that although liquid struggles to get through initially, it can only withstand so much. 

If you are caught in a sun shower or even persistent drizzle on the golf course, water resistant garments will do the job just fine and will keep you dry until the rain stops. 

In a persistent, heavy downpour, however, water is eventually going to find a way in. The other, more serious issue you may encounter is that after wearing it for a prolonged period you will often sweat, causing moisture to gather on the inside of the garment. Breathability is really important. 

Still, in the majority of situations you find yourself in on the course you can get by with water-resistant gear. Considering that they aren’t as expensive as the top of the range waterproofs, ‘rainproof’ can be the most attractive option to casual golfers or those who don’t really want to spend big on something they aren’t going to use every time they play. 

Windproof

Galvin Green Apollo Jacket

(Image credit: Galvin Green)

All waterproof and rainproof gear will protect you from rain but not all of them are windproof. Furthermore, many windproof items of clothing are not waterproof. 

This is something you definitely need to consider carefully when buying because protection from the wind is almost as important as keeping dry. Ideally you want protection from both, which will cost a bit extra but it is definitely worth it if you play a lot of golf.

A lightweight, comfortable, waterproof and windproof jacket is something you will often wear out on the course even when it isn’t raining as it will keep out those biting UK winds and generally just keep you warm and cosy when it gets a bit chilly. The better ones are stretchable and lightweight which means they aren’t restrictive at all when you’re swinging the club. In fact, it can often feel like you aren’t wearing a jacket at all.

The price can certainly be off-putting but if you do buy a high end jacket you can ensure that you get your money’s worth from it by not just wearing it exclusively on the golf course.  

A good quality jacket will serve you well in other outdoor activities such as hiking or simply walking the dog. You can also just wear them as an everyday jacket, especially on rainy days. A Galvin Green is as much a fashion statement as it is a golf jacket.

This is obviously more difficult with waterproof trousers, which we will get to next.

So if you are paying a significant amount for a waterproof jacket our advice is that it’s worth spending a little extra to ensure it is also windproof as this means you will be able to wear it in any conditions and therefore get more bang for your buck.

Waterproof Trousers

Galvin Green Waterproof Trousers

(Image credit: Galvin Green)

Do you need waterproof trousers? Tricky one this. They aren’t as essential as a waterproof jacket but they are a useful addition to any golfer’s wardrobe, especially in the UK. Whether you actually need them though depends on how often you play and if you continue playing right through the winter. 

For a casual golfer who plays maybe a dozen times a year there is very little point in shelling out for a pair of waterproof trousers that they may never even wear. A waterproof / windproof jacket is far more of an essential while trousers would be an optional extra unless you are a serious all year round golfer, in which case yes you probably greatly benefit from the full suit. 

There are two kinds of waterproof trousers. There is the type that you keep in your golf bag and just throw on over your regular trousers when it starts raining, and the kind that you can actually wear instead of regular trousers (usually in the winter). The latter option is for hard core golfers who will play in any conditions at any time of year. Again, these are also perfect for other outdoor pursuits.

For the more part time golfer, ideally you’d still want to have a pair you can keep in your bag just in case of emergency, but if you are on a budget our advice would be to pay a bit extra for the best jacket you can afford rather than settling for a cheaper one just so you can get trousers as well.

Realistically, you only need waterproof trousers in the buck of winter or during very heavy downpours. Your regular golf trousers are not going to get soaked through from light rain or sporadic showers, and even when the rain is quite heavy you can still get away with it if you have a good jacket and an umbrella. The bottom of your trousers being damp is not going to ruin your round the way a soaking wet top half definitely will. 

You will wear a jacket in a much wider range of weather conditions than you will wear the bottoms so that should always be your priority. If money isn’t an issue then sure, buy the full suit and go for the latest top of the line offering from Galvin Green or Under Armour etc, but golfers on a budget should prioritise getting the best jacket they can afford as they will get much more benefit from that, particularly if it is windproof as well as waterproof.