How The Ball Flies

By Chris Foley

Regular readers of this column know that we generally present a practice plan, drill, or game that is designed to help you create a great practice situation and help you practice for performance. These are ways to practice that transfers to better performance on the golf course.

Since most of us haven’t had much time to practice yet at this point in the season, this month we are going to talk more about performance.

In the spring of the year we play in a wide variety of weather conditions and temperatures. These environmental conditions effect the performance of the golf ball. As the temperature drops, the golf ball doesn’t go as far and if we want to play our best golf, we need to be aware of this and be able to adjust.

According to Paul Guy, Head of Golf Ball R&D at Callaway Golf, there are a couple of things that influence how far the ball travels in colder weather. The ball temperature, the air temperature, and the human element all have an influence on distance. The resilience of the ball is effected so that the ball won’t compress like it would on a warm day. As air temperature decreases, the air becomes denser. The more dense the air, the shorter the ball travels. Finally, when a golfer is cold, they are typically wearing more clothing, their body temperature is colder and they don’t swing as fast.

As a general rule of thumb, use 2 to 2.5 yard difference for every 10 degrees. Use 78 degrees as your baseline temperature. So for instance, if the temperature is 48 degrees the ball will go 7-8 yards shorter than it would at 78 degrees.

Planning for the difference in distance can mean the difference between hitting the green or missing the green, hitting the ball to within birdie putt range, or carrying a water hazard. All of which will have an impact on your scoring.

If you have areas of your game that you would like to know how to practice more efficiently, please contact me. I welcome your feedback and questions. I can be reached at, 218-820-9426. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisFoleyGolf and look for more great practice tips on #PracticeForPerformance Thursdays.

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