News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

September 15, 2007

On and Off the Course: Weather can affect golf ball in different ways

September is just about the best time of the year to play golf. Even though the calendar says it’s still summer, the cooler nights and blazing sunsets remind us more of autumn. We seem to have gotten past the scorching hot, humid days, and have entered a phase of gorgeous, low-humidity sunny days.

However, the days are shorter, so you’re more likely to encounter various weather conditions in your round of 18 holes. On Thursday of last week, it was 49 degrees at 8 a.m., with dew covering the grass, but by about 10:30 it had warmed up to 75 degrees! What a difference the sun makes! When you play in different conditions, you might need to be aware of what kinds of things have an effect of the flight of your golf ball.

Temperature will affect how far a golf ball travels. When playing on days when the temperature varies, golfers should remember that just because their 8-iron came up short of the green on their first hole when the temperature was 50 degrees, doesn’t mean they need to take more club for the same distance three hours later when the temperature has risen by 25 degrees.

I found a guide on the web at a site called ProbableGolfInstruction.com. It shows that if you hit a 5-iron 168 yards when it is 41 degrees with 100 percent humidity, that ball would go 175 yards. At 68 degrees with 50 percent humidity or 182 yards at temperatures of 95 degrees and 80 percent humidity. For a driver that went 244 yards at 41 degrees, it would go 250 yards at 68 degrees and 262 yards at 95 degrees.

These are scientific calculations, using a robot for a exactly the same swing, and humans do not hit the ball the same way every time, so they can only be used as guidelines.

Also you have to be aware that the type of ball you play makes a difference on how much temperature affects the ball’s flight. A liquid-filled wound ball would tend to lose more distance than a two-piece ball or a solid-core wound ball. Your best bet is to practice with one type of ball consistently enough to be familiar with how much club you need to add or substract at hotter or cooler temperatures.

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