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Today we will answer how does weather affect golf balls flight and distance in here.
Say how incredibly satisfying would it be if every time stepping out on a golf course, you could find the weather plain and perfect?
You’ll be fortunate enough to experience such a scenario once or twice in your life since most of the time you’ll be encountering quite the opposite. And that’s why you need to comprehend how the weather affects the game, especially the golf ball flight and distance.
In this article, we’ll cover several weather conditions that play a significant role during golf rounds.
How Does Weather Affect Golf Balls Flight and Distance?
Your golfing context, be it icy cold, scorching hot, humidified, or sultry, it must have something to contribute to your golf ball’s flight and distance. Here, we’ll put some light on such contexts, showing how the effects really are, and what you should expect from your game during those situations.
How Does Cold Weather Affect Golf Balls Flight and Distance?
Cold weather mainly affects the golf balls because of the thermal expansion coefficient. The effect decides on what distance the ball is going to travel. When golf equipment, like the golf ball or the club, is at a lower temperature, the transfer of energy becomes less efficient. It results in slower ball speed, which significantly impacts the total distance covered.
A chill in the air makes it denser than high-temperature air. So when you strike a cold ball, it has an increased force for the drag and lifts. Meaning, your hit gets somewhat higher and shorter than usual.
Several of our tests have shown how the change in temperature affects two yards of carrying. Our calculation says that if you play below 41-degrees, you’re likely to lose six yards of distance to the least, whereas in general, you are to lose two yards for every ten degrees of temperature drop.
That’s why you need Cold Weather Golf Balls, specialized for holding up against winter with better compressions and travel rates.
Read: What is golf ball compression?
Wind Effect on Golf Ball
The wind undoubtedly has one of the most notable impacts on golf ball flights. Nobody can rule out the importance of throwing grass up in the air while determining the wind direction as it can significantly alter the pathways of the ball that you’ve just hit.
Take a look at the table below that shows how the headwind and tailwind affect the carry distances of an average golfer swinging a six-iron at eighty miles per hour.
|No wind||10 mph |
|20 mph |
|10 mph Headwind||20 mph Headwind|
|152 yards||160 yards||166 yards||141 yards||122 yards|
|+8 yards||+14 yards||-11 yards||-30 yards|
The chart clearly shows how tailwind help achieve more distance while headwinds significantly hurt. Besides the distance issues, the wind also dramatically affects the land angle and height of your shots. When hitting through the headwind, the ball tends to fly higher with the land steeper, while in contrast, crashing into the tailwind helps produce low-flying shots with flatter land.
Despite the popular beliefs, the wind hardly has any impact on the spin rates of golf shots. However, during hitting into headwinds, the spin becomes an enemy indeed as it rises the lift and drag. In such situations, it’s best to use a less lofty club as it’ll reduce the spin lofts and the spin rates as well.
Hitting the ball into crosswinds has its effects on its flights too. Take a look at the chart below, which shows how the ball travels offline in crosswinds when hit by the same golfer who swings a six-iron at 80 mph.
|No wind||5 mph||10 mph||15 mph||20 mph|
|0 Feet||20 Feet||40 Feet||60 Feet||80 Feet|
The chart shows that a 20 mile per hour crosswind sends a straight-hit shot 80 feet to the sideways, adding up to a whopping 26 yards to the side.
Humidity Effect on Golf Ball
Do golf balls go further in humid weather?
Simply put, yes, they do.
With the air feeling heavier in extremely humid weather, the ball won’t fly as far- this is pretty much the common knowledge among people when it comes to golfing in a moist setting.
But to find many in surprise, the fact actually goes backward. The more humid the weather, the farther the ball will fly.
Many elite players who seek distance in their game, tend to have a goal of shirt-soaking humidity as the air gets denser when it’s dry, which causes more drags and reduces the ball flight.
There’s only one catch, however, despite its being negligible. The Trackman’s data says any change from 10 to 90 percent humidity accounts for a difference less than a yard with a six-iron.
Altitude Effect on Golf Ball
Altitude can affect your golfing too, much or less. The common belief is- the higher the elevation, the farther the ball will fly. And the fact is true indeed, based on the general laws of physics.
According to the laws of physics, gravity keeps reducing as the elevation increases from the earth’s center. For instance, when you play golf in Denver, you play one mile above the ground compared to when plying in LA, as the distance between the Denver golf course and the center of the earth measures nearly a mile. It only results in a tiny change in gravity, which hardly puts any notable impact on your game.
There’s another common assumption that the ball spins less at higher altitudes. But this isn’t true. The spin generated from a shot depends on the complicated interaction laws of physics along with the properties of the ball and the club, and the swing you make, instead of the altitude.
What really impacts your game more than the elevation effect on golf ball is the change is air density because of the altitude rather than just the difference in height. The air starts getting thinner as the elevation heightens. You’ll get a clearer idea about this fact in the section followed by.
Air Density Effect on Golf Balls
The density of air may not be that big a deal of consideration before you hit the greens, but it can undoubtedly affect your game by a substantial margin.
Dense air makes the ball fly much slower and not cover as much distance as it should. This is because of the properties of a thick atmosphere, which forms a repelling force against the flying ball to slow down its increase of velocity in mid-air. It’s quite the opposite when the air is thin or less dense.
And as we’ve said earlier, the air gets less dense at higher elevations. So a golf ball, like every other moving object, finds it more comfortable to push its way through. It doesn’t tend to slow down any time soon as the thin air has no repelling force on it like dense air.
However, there are still a lot of defining factors about a ball flying through dense or thin air, like the force exerted by the golfer, what club he/she uses, and how heavy or lightweight the ball is.
Temperature Effect on Golf Ball
Do warm golf balls go further?
The quick answer is, yes. A golf ball travels more throughout hot and humid contexts. In fact, you can expect the ball to fly a yard or two extra (per one-hundred yards) in warm weather.
With the molecules of warm air, keeping distances apart from each other, the air tends to be less dense and lighter than colder air. And a lighter air is easy to cut through during the flight of a golf ball since there will be lesser repelling force against it. A golf ball temperature experiment denotes the increase in distance per 10°F as followed in the chart.
|Temperature (°F )||Maximum Distance (Yards)||Distance Expected to be Covered (Yards)|
Effect of Rain on Golf Ball
Golfing in the rain is undoubtedly less fun than in other weather conditions. The rain, the damp conditions impact your scores significantly to make things all the more gloomy.
So, does rain affect golf ball distance?
Sure it does. It forces you to play shorter shots while the moisture and the cold outfit cause a drop in distance. And these situations can make you lose patience in some cases. That’s why many are seen hitting the ball hard and high only to mud their clothes up and gouge the turf.
What we recommend instead is to hit it hard yet low. Lower-angled shots have shallower drops, which generate far less dirt. Another thing, many professionals prefer fairway wood to long iron in such conditions as they are more forgiving.
On a Final Note…
Hardcore golfers would stop at nothing, be it snowing cold or scalding hot. But no matter what context you’re playing in, make sure you keep a good knowledge of your surroundings. Observe the trees, clouds, flags, air temperature, ground temperature, and the density of air to make sure you can grind out the best possible outcome.
So, now while walking on a course with your golf pushcart in which you have your packed golf bag with the needed golf balls, you should observe the weather and calculate your strategy!
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Daisy is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Golfs Hub. She is associated with Golf for more than 20 years. She got the inspiration from her father. She is a very private person & doesn't like to be photographed. She's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Now she is enjoying her retirement from day job... but not from Golf! Daisy lives in southeasternmost part of New York state with her family.
great insights. keep up the good work. however, can you suggest me something for summer golfing?
Heat gives the ball more elasticity, creating a ball that bounces more and travels longer. In high heat and/or high humidity you need a higher compression ball. I would just stay away from any low compression ball on a hot day. Pro v1x will play great. For golfing in the summer heat you must- Bring plenty of liquids and a sunscreen with you, Dress appropriately and rest when needed.