We are now approaching the end of a very unusual British summer. Instead of the usual washout we have experienced extreme temperatures. After the initial euphoria we golfers quickly found out that hot weather can just as much as the cold and wet weather be a real handicap. On days of extreme heat the sun is actually not always our friend: the dangers of sun burns, dehydration, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke are real. And tirdenes and lack of energy really can affect your game. But apart from the physical strain, your game is also affected in a positive way. I am referring to the way hich temperatures influence the flight of the golf ball. At high temperatures, the air is lighter and the ball flies further. But the effect temperature has on ball length overall is less than you may expect. For every 10 degrees of temperature rise you can expect a change in the length of about a yard. If the weather is humid the ball flight may gain an additional one or two yards as resistance decreases with humidity. Apart from the flight of the ball, the distance of the ball may also be influenced by the ground conditions: In dry and hot weather conditions the ground may become tinder dry and rock hard meaning that the ball may roll a lot further than normally.
So, the ideal days to golf are those early autumn or spring days, warm sunny days with temperatures in the mid- twenty’s, when not only the ball travels further but when we also seem to be more flexible and swing much better. But perfect weather conditions are rare and the weather is often an additional handicap forcing us golfers to adapt our game. The weather can also become a handy excuse to blame a bad game of golf on in which case the cold, wind and rain are the perfect candidates as they can truly cause havoc with the flight of the golf ball.
Wind is one of the golfer’s worst enemies because the effect it can have on the ball flight can be very significant. A ball hit with a tailwind behind will travel further than if there was no breeze, and a ball hit into a headwind will not travel as far as normal. The golfer has to compensate for the windy conditions by choosing a higher or lower numbered club. As a rule of thumb 1% should be added to the distance for every 1mph of headwind. A 100-yard shot into a 5mph wind becomes 105 yards. When playing downwind use 0.5% instead: A 100-yard shot with a 5mph tailwind becomes 98 yards
Most golfers will avoid playing in the rain if at all possible, but sometimes this cannot be helped. The rain causes major problems with the golfer’s grip on his club. Shots will not go as far and putts become much slower and harder to read on the greens as they become dampened. Golfers might find their golf shoes slipping where water has accumulated. Another common problem in wet weather golf is a plugged ball, where the golf ball gets stuck in the mud rather than rolling over the fairway/green as it would on a dry day.
The main problem is that the cold weather makes your muscles stiff. You have trouble loosening up and achieving the muscle extension you need for powerful and accurate shots. Bundling up with layers of clothing makes it harder to swing freely.
As if golf was not hard enough, but the weather adds an additional handicap. Ideal weather conditions are rare and the hot weather can be challenging just as much as the cold weather and ideal weather conditions are rare.