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


Spin affects the distance a golf ball travels. Speaking of different types of balls, dimple pattern has an affect on the ball’s flight. The combination of core type and dimple pattern is what categorizes a ball as being for distance or feel, usually giving up some of one to have more of the other. If a ball had no dimples at all, it wouldn’t go very far at all. The first balls used in golf, called the featherie, were made of a leather pouch filled with goose feathers. Since at that time they believed a smooth ball would go farther, the stitching of the leather went on the inside of the pouch, except for the final stitches used to close up the pouch. In 1845 the gutta-percha ball was first introduced. It was made from the gum of a Malaysian Sapodilla tree which was heated and molded to make a smooth sphere.

According to a professor at St. Andrews University in Scotland, it was discovered that the ball flew farther if the surface had been scraped up. If put a swing on a golf ball with dimples that would send it 250 yards, that same swing hit on to a ball with no spin would only go 180 yards. Today’s golf balls have between 300 and 500 dimples. Physics can explain why and how the depth and number of dimples affects the flight of a golf ball, but I’m not going to go into that. If you’ re like me you don’t really care why it happens, just that it does happen! Suffice it to say that it happens because of the forces of lift and drag. Which brings us to wind.

Wind will affect the flight of your ball. This is such a no-brainer that I don’t need to explain it. Just make sure to take it into account when you play golf. Playing golf is not the time to have an inflated ego. Take more club if you’re hitting into the wind. Remember that the higher the ball goes, the more likely it is to be affected by the wind.

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