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DrMJG

Heavy Air?

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After month after month of playing in the dry heat of Arizona, even with temps over 100º, lately the weather, as a result of monsoon conditions, we have humidity in the higher 80's with no real let down over night.  The last few days, I started out with solid shots that seemed not to carry as well.  Should I change anything differently with the heavy air of high humidity? (And, yes, I have changed the amount of hydration while I play.)

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4 minutes ago, DrMJG said:

After month after month of playing in the dry heat of Arizona, even with temps over 100º, lately the weather, as a result of monsoon conditions, we have humidity in the higher 80's with no real let down over night.  The last few days, I started out with solid shots that seemed not to carry as well.  Should I change anything differently with the heavy air of high humidity? (And, yes, I have changed the amount of hydration while I play.)

I believe I was told humid air leads to more carry. It seems counter intuitive, but unless I'm mistaken, that's the way it works.

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1 hour ago, DrMJG said:

After month after month of playing in the dry heat of Arizona, even with temps over 100º, lately the weather, as a result of monsoon conditions, we have humidity in the higher 80's with no real let down over night.  The last few days, I started out with solid shots that seemed not to carry as well.  Should I change anything differently with the heavy air of high humidity? (And, yes, I have changed the amount of hydration while I play.)

Yes, humid air is less dense, reducing drag on the ball. However, hot air is also less dense, reducing drag on the ball. Maybe the combination of very hot and very humid air thins the air too much and you don't generate enough spin to keep the ball in the air.

Or maybe you just weren't swinging as well as you thought because you were hot and humid. Weather (excluding wind) doesn't have that big of an effect on distance.

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I am playing in the same conditions, and am also seeing some reduction in distance. Not much, but a little. Maybe a 1/2 a club?

In my case, I know for a fact, that due to the high heat, and 35%+ humidity, I am just not swinging as fast as I normally do. My swing is more fluid, just not as fast. It's a saving energy thing with me.

Once the humid conditions leaves the area, in about 2-3 weeks, I will get back to my normal game.  

HopefullyFurnace Creek won't be too humid in a few weeks.

Right now the humidity, with a light breeze is a good thing. That, and shade. 

Edited by Patch

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Well, even when it's humid here it isn't very humid, compared to many other places.  But, usually, as our humidity goes up our temperature goes down, a little.  But the scientific fact is that humid air is less dense.  I am wondering if in the less dense air spin has slightly less influence, and, especially at human swing speeds, decreases the extra lift that spin can provide.  I imagine that the optimum spin and launch angle may be slightly different based on temperature and humidity (and of course, swing speed).

 

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3 hours ago, DrMJG said:

After month after month of playing in the dry heat of Arizona, even with temps over 100º, lately the weather, as a result of monsoon conditions, we have humidity in the higher 80's with no real let down over night.  The last few days, I started out with solid shots that seemed not to carry as well.  Should I change anything differently with the heavy air of high humidity? (And, yes, I have changed the amount of hydration while I play.)

Try learning to to hit up with less dependency on back spin? See below?

 

22 minutes ago, jlbos83 said:

Well, even when it's humid here it isn't very humid, compared to many other places.  But, usually, as our humidity goes up our temperature goes down, a little.  But the scientific fact is that humid air is less dense.  I am wondering if in the less dense air spin has slightly less influence, and, especially at human swing speeds, decreases the extra lift that spin can provide.  I imagine that the optimum spin and launch angle may be slightly different based on temperature and humidity (and of course, swing speed).

I think this is spin related? The OP might depend upon spin more to get his distances? The magnus effect is reduced with lower density air as well.

I’ve noticed in the past that the distance is reduced a bit with my lower launching spinny drives in higher humidity environments.

Learn to hit up more with less spin...

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I think @jlbos83 has the right tack.  Changes in air density affect ball flight due to the Magnus effect.  That isn't immediately obvious from one day to the next.  Couple that with the fact that we cannot possibly be the same golfer each time out and the situation is rife for construction of a logical, and erroneous, narrative.  

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30 minutes ago, Lihu said:

I think this is spin related? The OP might depend upon spin more to get his distances? The magnus effect is reduced with lower density air as well.

I’ve noticed in the past that the distance is reduced a bit with my lower launching spinny drives in higher humidity environments.

Learn to hit up more with less spin...

Spin helps the ball lift. Too little spin and the ball doesn't stay in the air as long which reduces overall distance. That's why optimal launch and spin rates are dependent on swing speed.

Plus, how are you going to hit up with an iron from the fairway?

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Well, when you hit an iron from the fairway, the face is pointed up, even with a slightly downward angle of attack.

My understanding, which may be flawed, is that the lower the swing speed, the more spin has to do with getting height, and hence distance.  The big bashers don't need as much spin as mere mortals.  Their number lead to the low spin craze a few years back.  But mere mortals couldn't hit the low spin drivers straight, or far.  For every swing, and atmospheric condition, there is an optimum set of conditions.  We just hope to get close to them now and then.

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It may indeed be me, and my reaction to the humidity is the problem. When it goes from 13% to upper 80% it probably affects me more.  I did not really focus on swing speed today, so I cannot tell you if my swing speed dropped that much today.  While everything seemed "normal", I will have to check it more when I am on the range next.  Just was wondering how the great change may have affected my play, if at all.

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19 minutes ago, DrMJG said:

It may indeed be me, and my reaction to the humidity is the problem. When it goes from 13% to upper 80% it probably affects me more.  I did not really focus on swing speed today, so I cannot tell you if my swing speed dropped that much today.  While everything seemed "normal", I will have to check it more when I am on the range next.  Just was wondering how the great change may have affected my play, if at all.

Unless you lost 20-30 yards per shot, it probably didn’t impact you score as much as your potential mood from losing any distance 😁

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1 hour ago, jlbos83 said:

Well, when you hit an iron from the fairway, the face is pointed up, even with a slightly downward angle of attack.

The more your angle of attack deviates from your dynamic loft, the more spin is imparted on the ball (to a point). You'll generate more spin on an iron shot you hit slightly down on versus one you hit level, assuming your dynamic loft stays the same.

1 hour ago, jlbos83 said:

My understanding, which may be flawed, is that the lower the swing speed, the more spin has to do with getting height, and hence distance.  The big bashers don't need as much spin as mere mortals.  Their number lead to the low spin craze a few years back.  But mere mortals couldn't hit the low spin drivers straight, or far.  For every swing, and atmospheric condition, there is an optimum set of conditions.  We just hope to get close to them now and then.

Spin affects lift at all speeds.

As far as the driver goes, slower swingers need more spin to help keep the ball in the air for longer drives. Faster swingers need less spin because they launch the ball faster, so more spin causes the ball to climb too much and makes the descent angle too steep, resulting in loss of distance.

But, it's not as simple as slower swingers need more spin and faster swingers need less spin. Launch angle is a factor as well. PGA Tour players hit their irons high with a lot of spin, but they launch the ball low. If they launched their irons high with their spin rates, their balls would balloon and they would lose distance.

1 hour ago, DrMJG said:

It may indeed be me, and my reaction to the humidity is the problem. When it goes from 13% to upper 80% it probably affects me more.  I did not really focus on swing speed today, so I cannot tell you if my swing speed dropped that much today.  While everything seemed "normal", I will have to check it more when I am on the range next.  Just was wondering how the great change may have affected my play, if at all.

That's the most likely explanation IMO. You may not even realize that you're not swinging at 100%. Maybe you were uncomfortable and something was just a little off about your swing.

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I once read an article by Titleist that said that air temperature had the greatest effect on ball flight. It also said that air humidity had very little effect and the difference between playing in very dry air and very humid air (everything else being the same) is just a few yards.

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On 7/11/2018 at 3:47 PM, Missouri Swede said:

Humid air is less dense than dry air. 51163EFD-D806-4505-8078-386639433622.thumb.jpeg.14386bfa39c4d61fd5d8e210ed7bffee.jpeg

If you note the chart that @Missouri Swede posted, the x scale is degrees in Celsius.   I doubt anybody plays golf in 60ºC.   At 20ºC, which is around 68ºF, the density difference is relativity small.   To say, "My ball isn't going today because it is too humid or too dry" doesn't have merit.  

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3 hours ago, dennyjones said:

If you note the chart that @Missouri Swede posted, the x scale is degrees in Celsius.   I doubt anybody plays golf in 60ºC.   At 20ºC, which is around 68ºF, the density difference is relativity small.   To say, "My ball isn't going today because it is too humid or too dry" doesn't have merit.  

It is more variable at 40C though. There was s some effect in hot humid conditions versus dry. But if you learned your distances at 70, then played at 95F, there is a decent change. We’re not talking 20 yards though. 

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15 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

It is more variable at 40C though. There was s some effect in hot humid conditions versus dry. But if you learned your distances at 70, then played at 95F, there is a decent change. We’re not talking 20 yards though. 

It's about 1 yard every 10°F or 5.5°C, so in other words, not significant. It's less than the normal distance variance you would expect to see from swing to swing.

Humidity apparently accounts for less than 1 yard of difference from 10% to 90%.

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4 hours ago, dennyjones said:

If you note the chart that @Missouri Swede posted, the x scale is degrees in Celsius.   I doubt anybody plays golf in 60ºC.   At 20ºC, which is around 68ºF, the density difference is relativity small.   To say, "My ball isn't going today because it is too humid or too dry" doesn't have merit.  

 

1 hour ago, boogielicious said:

It is more variable at 40C though. There was s some effect in hot humid conditions versus dry. But if you learned your distances at 70, then played at 95F, there is a decent change. We’re not talking 20 yards though. 

 

35 minutes ago, billchao said:

It's about 1 yard every 10°F or 5.5°C, so in other words, not significant. It's less than the normal distance variance you would expect to see from swing to swing.

Humidity apparently accounts for less than 1 yard of difference from 10% to 90%.

The main point I wanted to make is that humid air is not more dense. On a muggy summer day, there is less air resistance (and probably not significantly), not more.  We see this question from time to time on the forum. I even saw it in one of the magazines a year or two ago—and answered incorrectly.*

*edit: 3 years ago. Golf Digest August 2015 issue

Edited by Missouri Swede

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