Depending on your location and the season, you might find yourself dealing with wind frequently while golfing. Golf balls are designed to make them fly more smoothly through the air, so they work in their favor.
But a high amount of wind can impact the trajectory of your golf ball and cause undesired results. Specifically, wind changes the spin, and if you want to know how does wind impact the flight of a golf ball? Let’s dig in.
The Science Behind Golf and Wind
How to Hit the Golf Ball in Strong Winds
The golf ball trajectory is not an easy equation to calculate. There are too many variables: what clubs are you using, the velocity of the wind, how much force you swing, etc. It’ll come down to your trial and error and the experience you gather from playing.
Some people hire professionals that track every variable while you play, and they condense the data to compare the different numbers on different conditions.
Your position regarding the direction of the wind will completely change how it affects the golf ball’s trajectory. You get opposite results with each one.
The one thing that will make the most significant difference in your game is a headwind. It will make the ball fly higher, but it will cover a shorter distance. The shorter length is caused due to the wind changing the spin rate. The spin rate will increase, causing it to go higher than average conditions.
You should maximize the distance in the headwind by teeing the ball a little higher. This technique will help you decrease the spin rate, and the golf ball will make it through the wind. Another great option when playing an iron is to learn how to hit a proper knockdown shot.
Calculate the Distance in the Headwind
Here is a formula to calculate the distance in the headwind condition. You will always add 1% to the mph while playing in the headwind. For example, if you cover a 100-yard shot into a five mph wind.
The calculation will change to 105 yards (200-yard shot into a five mph wind), and the resultant distance will be 210 yards. You can also calculate for ten mph like this:
100-yard shot into a ten mph wind = 110 yards (200-yard shot into a ten mph wind) = 220 yards.
Tailwind, on the contrary, will make your shot lift less. Lift less means that you will probably see your ball go a couple more yards and land a lot flatter.
Because it reduces the effect of backspin, you can use a club that will make it easier to launch the ball with more lift to take advantage of this condition. This way, it won’t drop as quickly, and it’ll travel a longer distance.
Calculate the Distance in the Downwind
If you want to calculate the distance in the downwind, you can add 0.5% to the mph instead of 1%. The 100-yard shot with a five mph tailwind will reduce to 98 yards, and then the resultant length will become 195 yards. You can calculate it for your required mph with the formula given below:
100-yard shot with (enter mph)mph tailwind = (0.5% of 100-yards)yards 200-yard shot with a ten mph tailwind = (total yards) yards.
Crosswind & Its’ Affect on Golf Ball Distances
Crosswind won’t impact the lift or distance as much but will warp the ball’s trajectory. This means that the ball will follow the direction of the wind, deviating from where it would land in more favorable conditions. You will notice that it will land a couple of yards from where you intended, again depending on the strength of the drive and the velocity of the wind.
Crosswind will provide an advantage to the player, and he can throw the ball, giving accurate shots leading to the perfect hits operating. If he is playing in the direction of the wind, the wind will make it throw on the required spots but increase the distance by a few meters. Opposite to the wind shot will decrease the length but without affecting the direction of the golf ball, and the player can hit the ball with precision.
Recommendations for Beginners
- The more intense your swing is, the more spin you’ll end up putting on the ball. The reel isn’t very great in the wind. As such, it will exaggerate your mistakes.
- If you strike your ball well, you can rest assured that it’ll sail through the skies much more effectively. However, if your shots are shoddy, you won’t particularly like the result of your game.
- Focus more on how you can work with the wind instead of working against it. Paying attention to hitting with just the right tempo would certainly give you better results.
At What Wind Speed is Golf Unplayable?
If you ask me, the answer is never… 😂
Honestly though, there is a point when the game becomes borderline impossible when the winds reach a certain speed. The game is hard enough as it is, so when this happens it’s probably best to just cut your losses and save the fight for another day.
But to answer the question, a general rule of thumb looks like this…
Winds of 2o mph will demand superior ball striking and are considered very tough conditions. Winds approaching 30 mph are moving into the unplayable category.
And anything over 30 is best debated at the 19th hole…. 🍻
It is common knowledge among experienced golfers that tailwind doesn’t help as much as the headwind poses a challenge, especially for someone who is not familiar with golf yet.
However, do not fear. Little by little and with practice, you will be able to gather enough knowledge to consider all these variables quickly before hitting the ball to get the best shot possible.
You cannot control the weather and wind, but you can learn to play in it, which is only possible with practice. The more you try to play in the wind, the more you will judge the course and hit your required spot.
The game of golf is always throwing curveballs at you, and mother nature can certainly play some dirty games on the course. As you gain experience on the course you will learn how to get through it better.
Like anything else, as your skills increase your command of the game/situation will as well. Don’t panic when it’s windy, just take it shot by shot and roll with the punches!
And remember, a bad day golfing beats a good day at work 😉
To your success on the course!