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Here’s how much heat and altitude affects your golf shots, according to new research

December 14, 2018

There was all kinds of fascinating information flying around Coach Camp, a recent instruction conference at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, earlier this month. One of the snippets of I found most fascinating was host Andrew Rice’s research on how temperature affects golf ball distance.

Here’s how it breaks down, according to Rice’s recent study, which used a Trackman to test a ball flying 155 mph.

As you can see courtesy of the chart above, the carry change increases by about half a yard between your pitching wedge and driver, capping out at about two yards per 10 degrees of temperature. Rice also found that humidity had “almost no effect on carry,” — temperature and carry were the two primary atmospheric conditions (outside of wind, which is a different matter) that effect your golf ball.

So, if your driver carries about 250 yards in 70-degree conditions, according to Rice’s research, the same shot will travel about 254 yards in 90-degree conditions, and 246 yards in 50-degree conditions.

Altitude, as you can see above, is the other big factor. With a driver, you get an extra 2.5 yards per 1,000 feet of altitude. But that’s not all. The “optimal spin rate” with a driver, Rice explains, increases from 2,250 RPMs at sea level to about 3,000 RPMs at 10,000 feet. Why? Because the air is less dense at increased altitude, so the importance of hang time increases.

All this adds up — and it could help boost your driving stats in the process. Let’s say you’re that same guy who usually carries the ball a respectable 250 yards in 70-degree conditions at sea level, on a calm day. Go play Club de Golf Chapultepec, host of the World Golf Championship – Mexico Championship, in 90-degree heat with its overall elevation hovering around 7,000 feet above sea level, and that same 250-yard drive will now fly about 270 yards.

Just make sure, when you get back home and start boasting to your buddies about how far you’ve been hitting it, make sure to leave out all the scientific information.