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chspeed

How is distance really affected by cold weather?

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I play year round. As long as there's no snow on the ground, we'll play if it's above 30 degrees or so.

My question is, how much is ball carry distance really affected by the cold? The other day was  in the high 30's/low 40's, and the ball seemed to carry pretty close to normal. I wasn't measuring, but I didn't notice a significant change in distance. Also, are there better balls than others to play on cold days?

Edited by chspeed

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I don't have an exact number in mind but research says that air temperature has a significant effect on ball flight because it strongly affects air density. For me, between warm weather and cold weather it's one club difference.

Contrary to popular belief, air humidity has a very limited effect on ball flight. Humid air is less dense that dry air (that's why clouds float) and thus the ball should fly a longer distance. However, the effect is so small you shouldn't worry about it. I've read a couple of articles, including one by Titleist, saying that the difference between really humid air and bone dry air, everything else being the same, is less than three yards.

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I never really ever think about colder weather and distance.

I have read stuff like there is 2 yard loss in distance for every 10 degree drop from 75 degrees.

Then there is that term coeffient of thermal expansion which I dont worry about, except for I might use a softer compression ball in really cold weather.

No, what really causes me noticeable distance loss is how much clothing I am wearing to keep myself warm. The more clothing I wear, the more restrictive my swing will be.

I will be playing later today in moist, 50 degree weather. I expect some distance loss, due to clothing, but nothing I cant handle using the right clubs. 

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Unfortunately the correlation between distance and temperature isn't linear either through the bag or across temperature ranges. Rough estimate is 2-3% loss for 10 degrees below 70F. I find a low compression ball like the Callaway SuperSoft to be ideal when temperatures drop below 45F.

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Have to agree with the above, it seems I need an extra club when the weather starts getting cold but not sure if that's a function of the temperature or the restricted swing due to the extra layers of clothes, etc.  I have to imagine its a little bit of both.

As for balls, I switch over to a yellow Callaway Super Soft as soon as the leaves start falling.  Partly due to lower compression but mainly because they're cheaper and easier to find when the leaves are down.

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I've never really noticed a significant difference in the way that the ball performs.  That may be because I always kept 2 balls in my pocket in cold weather and rotated them from hole to hole, so they never got super cold.  The biggest difference I noticed was in me - I wasn't able to make as full a swing because of the extra clothing I had to wear when the temps were below 45 or 50 degrees.  

That wasn't really a problem either because I'd just play everything with about a ¾ swing.  Usually I would get enough additional roll from the dry or frozen ground that I often netted more distance than I did in summer.

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I played yesterday on a day where the combination of wind and temp made it feel like it was in the 20s. I was hitting up to three clubs more on some shots.

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1 hour ago, SavvySwede said:

Unfortunately the correlation between distance and temperature isn't linear either through the bag or across temperature ranges. Rough estimate is 2-3% loss for 10 degrees below 70F. I find a low compression ball like the Callaway SuperSoft to be ideal when temperatures drop below 45F.

That's about what I've observed, but including the density of the air etc. Range balls are even worse for some reason, guessing 4%-5%?

 

 

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I lose a lot of distance as it gets colder. Played an outing with  and 2 other guys in early December. In 50 degree weather I was hitting 2 clubs up while they only seemed to lose 1 or less. Last week I played 4 days in a row with temps in the mid 50's. Mostly played 1.5 clubs up except for the day it was just that little bit warmer where I only lost about 1 club.

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1 minute ago, Lihu said:

That's about what I've observed, but including the density of the air etc. Range balls are even worse for some reason, guessing 4%-5%?

 

 

If the range leaves the balls outside I'd say that's about right. Need to keep those suckers warm.

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I played Christmas day with a high temp of 37.  In the summer my on-the-screws drive went about 240 this year.  When it gets in the 40's and 30's, that goes down to 220 and I'm hitting 1/2 clubs more on approach.

It's a good point that some of that may be restrictive clothes.

Later,

John

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For the last 2 years i have played winter golf on vancouver Island  and notice quite a difference. My home course is around 1900' above sea level so that will obviously have some effect, as well as temperature and humidity. I find with long irons, hybrids, woods and driver there is about 2 clubs and it gradually decreases as the irons get shorter. Makes sense as the more time in the air the more effect. I lose as much as 40 yds with driver and 3 wood vs playing at home in the summer.

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I have a hard time knowing how much is "swing shrinkage" and how much is the physics of the ball and the air.

Supposing I'm not trying to hug myself while I swing the club, a 1-club difference is a pretty safe bet once it drops under 50.

 

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So this thread prompted me to look up the rules on warming golf balls. From what I understand it is OK to warm them up before you play but not while actively playing? Maybe before a colder round this winter I will try heating some balls up on the way to the course. I had a geeky friend growing up who once got a 'cooking with your car engine' cookbook. I have at least a little bit of geek in me so we gave it a try. Good times. I wonder how it would work for golf balls? 

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Yesterday I played a round in the high 20s to low 30s and besides a strange feel through the shaft I didnt really notice a huge difference in my length.  Maybe thats because the ball seemed to be rolling a mile on the fairways.  I still enjoyed myself.

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So many variables involved not the least of which is how you're swinging that day. I play in temps from 40° to 105°.  A stock 8-iron for me is right at 148 or 150.  But if I'm swinging well and it's 95°, and off a tee, I might go with a 9i and get there comfortably.  

I played Sun in 50° and used a 5i for a 144 yd shot.  I wasn't feelin it and there was a bit of wind.  To me it's about understanding all of the variables and pulling the right stick.  

Takes a lot of time and understanding of your own abilities and limitations but I do feel like this is a strength of mine, I typically pull the proper club regardless the situation.

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7 minutes ago, Grumpter said:

So this thread prompted me to look up the rules on warming golf balls. From what I understand it is OK to warm them up before you play but not while actively playing? Maybe before a colder round this winter I will try heating some balls up on the way to the course. I had a geeky friend growing up who once got a 'cooking with your car engine' cookbook. I have at least a little bit of geek in me so we gave it a try. Good times. I wonder how it would work for golf balls? 

I think that rule would be 14-3. Something about using golf equipment in an unusual manner. 

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We have not gotten that cold.  It was cool on Saturday when we played and the fairways were dry (for Florida) so we got a lot of roll out when hitting the ball.  It was nice to hit a ball and not have to try and find it in a crater of soft earth right where it initially landed.

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Note: This thread is 1355 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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