How much does the weather affect your golf ball?

Humidity, air pressure and temperature

Firstly, let’s think about three elements of our weather and how they impact our game – humidity, air pressure and temperature.

Humidity doesn’t really affect the ball. A change from 10% to 90% humidity affects a ball distance by just 1 yard on a 6-iron (for a Tour player).

Similarly, air pressure has a small effect so isn’t something we’d need to be concerned about.

Temperature changes the ball distance the most. Going from 40 to 100 degrees (f) will increase a 6-iron by 8 yards and a driver by 9 yards. In connection with temperature, make sure you consider the bounce and roll on different ground conditions as the weather changes. For example, it’s been hot and dry the ground will be harder and bouncier.

Wind

The biggest factor you’ll have to contend with is the wind. Here’s a great visual of how a 140 yard shot is affected by different wind speeds (tail and head):

You’ll see the tailwind helps much less than a headwind hinders.

A tailwind will reduce the backspin on the ball, in turn flattening the landing angle creating more bounce and roll. It’s often quite difficult to judge how long the ball will stay in the air for and how much it will roll though.

A headwind will impart more backspin and lift onto the ball, creating a steeper landing angle and reduced bounce and roll. The more loft you have in your hand or the higher you hit the ball, the more it will reduce your overall distance. If you naturally create a lot of backspin, you should really take note of the wind strength as it will affect you more. Low trajectory hitters and low spin flights will be less affected.

For crosswinds, the impact depends on a few factors.

If you curve your ball (for example slice or hook), it will either curve with the wind or against the wind. If it curves with the wind, the ball will travel as though it has a tailwind. If you curve the ball against the wind, the impact will be like hitting the ball into a headwind.

Considering the above, if you know how to shape your ball you can really take advantage of a crosswind when you need a few extra yards.

The distance of a straight shot shouldn’t be affected very much by crosswinds, but the direction will be.

SUMMARY

  • Temperature will affect the distance a ball travels.
  • The wind has a huge impact not only on distance but also flight and direction.
  • Tailwind will increase the distance of your shot and controlling the landing can be tricky.
  • Headwind has a bigger affect than tailwind. It will significantly shorten your shot, especially if the wind is very strong.
  • Playing crosswinds very much depends on how you shape your shot.
  • The best players in the world learn how to adapt their ball flight to windy conditions.

TOP TIP!  Club up more than you think into the breeze!

 

Lee Wilson; August 2020