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How does the weather affect the golf ball?

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Many things affect the flight of the golf ball. The temperature of a golf ball coupled with the air density of its environment directly affects the overall performance of that particular golf ball during a round.

The fact that temperature affects a golf ball’s resiliency, its spin, and the density of the air flowing around the ball while in motion is what makes golf so difficult. A golf ball’s surface also greatly affects how it travels. The amount of humidity in the air will determine how much water is on the golf ball and how heavy the ball becomes, impacting how far it flies.

The wind is the most obvious weather condition to affect a golf ball as it blows the ball off course if not accounted for properly. Amateur golfers often struggle with windy conditions because they do not account for how wind affects their golf shots.

What is the optimal temperature for golf weather?

The optimal temperature for golf ball flight is 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Although it’s not something that can be measured easily, colder weather often decreases the travel distance of the ball. When the temperature drops by 15 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect a 2 to 3-yard decrease in the distance for every 100 yards in a golf shot.

brett sand shot from 100 out

But why will a golf ball travel less distance in colder temperatures?

There are two reasons for this. Colder air normally brings in denser air. When the air is denser, it creates more friction and drag around the ball, making it fly a bit higher and disrupting the travel distance of that ball. Second, when the golf ball and golf club are colder, energy transfer is not as efficient as you would have with a dry ball and golf club. What this does is that the ball’s speed drops.

These two reasons will disrupt the speed of the ball; hence, it won’t carry as far. The same factors can be applied to a golf swing. A perfect analogy would be the human body. The human body is more flexible when the temperature of their muscles are warm compared to cold.

golf on a cold day

Experienced vs. Non-Experienced Golfers

Experienced golf players (PGA tour professionals) will take note of the humidity level and how the current cold conditions are. Not only that, but they will also use the 15-minute weather forecast to ensure they are adapting to the weather as it changes during the long golf round. Taking into account all of these factors will give you an edge over a less experienced golfer but in a fair way. 

So, simply put, how do these factors affect how far a ball travels?

Air Pressure

Air pressure does not affect your ball flight pattern. However, it will account for 1 or 2 yards less from the distance of the golf ball. It’s hard to hear a golfer refer to a low–pressure system as the main reason their approach shots landed short on the green, but the truth is, the error in their shot has occurred somewhere.


The traditional knowledge of this factor is that the ball will hardly fly if it’s extremely humid because the air feels heavier. The ball will compress less because of how much water is in the air, and as a result, it will not have as much power to drive off the golf club.

Many people do not know that humidity also affects how the ball spins. If you hit a golf shot with backspin in humid conditions, there will be more friction between the ball and the air, which can disrupt the travel distance of your ball. If you are playing on a hot day, try to use a golf ball that has less spin to it.


Temperature is the most important factor to consider. Some players have noticed considerable differences in the distance a golf ball travels in cold weather. But here’s the truth: temperature changes have one of the greatest effects on ball flight, though it might not be as much as expected.

For example, going from forty to a hundred degrees is bound to increase a 6-iron carry by eight yards. That’s not a significant change, but making several great shots during your golf round would be enough.

On the other hand, going from 90 degrees to 100 degrees will increase the 6-iron carry by around 5 yards. So as you can see, small temperature changes can have a big effect on how far the ball travels.

golf on sunny day

Wind Speed

The wind can account for up to 30+ yards of difference in how far the golf ball travels. The wind will push or pull the ball depending on which side it is blowing from and how strong the gusts are. This is typically when PGA professionals use a draw vs fade to approach the green or fairway. When you factor in how the wind can affect your golf shots, that’s when you must be at your best judgment to make accurate guesses on club selection, how hard to swing, and how to compensate for different angles.

The wind is the most significant factor when trying to hit a long golf shot. When calculating how much wind will affect your shot, consider both its speed and direction. The best scenario is when the wind blows at maximum speed in the same direction you are swinging. The ball will travel the furthest you can physically hit it in this situation, so swing away!

What other factors to take into account?


Wait! Does rain affect golf ball distance? One of the other weather factors all golfers will have to face is rain. Yes, it does affect the golf ball difference. Raindrops will decrease the overall speed of a golf ball and will also change its trajectory. So take note of the direction of the rainfall; that way, you’ll be able to adjust your shot accordingly.

It’s a general rule of thumb that the rain will be falling in the same direction as the wind. So, if the wind is blowing from the west, expect the rain to be coming down from the west. And vice versa. You should be able to see this with your own eyes.

That’s not all – rain also affects the ball’s distance due to indirect factors, mainly the formation of mud. 


With rain comes dirt/mud. This will develop in the grooves of your golf club. Therefore, cleaning your grooves and keeping them clean is essential in creating a spin on the golf ball.

Mud causes friction, thus, adding more weight to the ball and resulting in the ball traveling shorter than normal. One of the interesting things to note about this fact is that mud stuck on the balls will cause the ball to draw vs fade in a similar direction and reduce the spin rate drastically. Therefore, when a ball has a lot of mud on it, don’t expect the shot to spin much.

Any chance you can, please mark your ball and clean the mud from it.

Long Bombs Golf Final Say:

So how does weather affect the golf ball? As we’ve seen, the wind is the most significant factor when trying to hit a long golf shot. When calculating how much wind will affect your shot, consider both its speed and direction. The golf ball will travel the furthest when the wind blows with you, but that is not always likely on the golf course.

Now that we’ve answered how weather affects golf ball distance, you should understand how to approach your shots on days when the conditions aren’t ideal. As a golfer, it’s important to be aware of these conditions and how they can affect your game so you can make better shots and score lower rounds. Use this knowledge to your advantage and try to improve your game.

Professional golfers take all of these into account when playing in different weather conditions, making them some of the best players in the world. With a bit of practice, you can too!


About the Author


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How I got on hole 16 (The Stadium hole) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with little to no wait!! I also have tips and tricks on what to do once you are inside the gate and inside the stadium hole. Check this out if you ever plan to make a trip out! If you ever have the chance, it is definitely worth the trip.

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