Connect with us

Instruction

How the wind affects your golf ball

Published

on

The wind had really picked up on the back nine. My friend and I were nearing the end of the round, and were about to hit our third shots into a par-5. I had played with my friend dozens of times, and I knew his distances just as well as my own. He used to play professionally, so it surprised me when he hit a full 8-iron from 125 yards. That club usually went 160 yards, but this time it landed within 2 feet of the hole. I would have never taken that much club from such a distance, and that’s also why my shot finished short of the green.

That round took place a few years before I started working with TrackMan, and it’s one of those moments on the golf course that has stuck with me. The good news is that you don’t need to play with a professional golfer to fully understand the effects of wind on the golf ball. Chances are that there’s a Trackman somewhere near you, and it measures the entire ball flight to help golfers understand what wind does to their shots.

If that’s not a possibility for you, here are a few important things that I have learned after playing with the data and running the calculations:

  • The effects of wind are not linear. Unfortunately, there is not a simple equation such as “1 mph equals 1 yard” that golfers can use to calculate how far the ball will fly in the wind. Different clubs, due to their different launch conditions and different ball flight, will be affected differently.
  • A headwind hurts more than a tailwind helps. In fact, at higher wind speeds, a headwind will hurt more than twice as much as a tailwind helps.
  • Headwinds and tailwinds can significantly impact how much bounce and roll you see, and must be taken into account when picking your landing spot.

A great example of how wind affects bounce and roll was seen at the World Long Drive Championship a few years ago. The wind was blowing from behind the players and they were hitting drives that were going 450 yards or more. Yes, they were seeing more carry due to the wind, but they were also seeing a lot of bounce and roll. When I looked at the data, I noticed that not only was the landing angle of the ball shallower, but the landing speed of the ball was significantly higher. A normal drive will typically land at around 65-70 mph, but some of these shots were landing at nearly 100 mph. Because the downwind was reducing the amount of drag the golf ball was experiencing, the ball was hitting the ground faster and at a flatter angle.

The following is an example of a PGA and LPGA Tour 6-iron shot under different wind conditions. You can see how the distance gained or lost is different for the same amount of tailwind or headwind. Notice how much the landing angle changes as well.

PGA TOUR 6-iron

LPGA Tour 6-iron

Since there isn’t a hard rule for how wind affects all shots, I would encourage you to find a certified TrackMan professional and play around on a windy day. He or she will be able to use the normalization feature in TrackMan to show you how far the ball would have carried under calm conditions, as well as show you real-time data of what the ball did in the conditions that day.

Over time you will start to build a knowledge base for how different winds and conditions truly affect your ball flight. Trust that knowledge on the golf course, and you will be much better off.

Your Reaction?
  • 249
  • LEGIT51
  • WOW33
  • LOL15
  • IDHT7
  • FLOP14
  • OB9
  • SHANK31

Justin Padjen, business development for TrackMan, has worked with more than 200 PGA and LPGA Tour professionals, including multiple world No. 1's. His knowledge of the science of golf has led to audiences with the top players, coaches, universities, and manufacturers in the world. Justin studied Electrical Engineering at North Carolina State University before earning a Master’s in Sports Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University. His current focus is TrackMan University, which is revolutionizing the way golf is taught and understood.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Pingback: D-Plane Golf | The DIY Golfer

  2. Pingback: Wind | Nur Golf

  3. Antoine Gehlhausen

    Sep 4, 2015 at 5:41 am

    This may seem like a good idea and certainly gives you the general direction of the wind, but unless you re going to hit the ball at your height it really means very little. There has been very little published on wind and how it affects the golf ball, you have to look at the sailing industry to really understand wind.

  4. Mike

    Aug 12, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    first time I got such an informative data. definitely will me the next time I play in the windy condition. Thanks!

  5. Tom Duckworth

    Aug 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Great read very good information. Even without a Trackman this gives me a good starting point. Have you ever looked a numbers when it’s a side wind? That would be a great follow up story to this one.

    • Justin Padjen

      Aug 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Yes we have. That would be a good follow-up article. I will see about covering that topic in the future. Thanks.

      • TinCup

        Aug 19, 2015 at 7:57 am

        +1 for the side-wind article. Especially on “quartering” winds

  6. Nick

    Aug 11, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Are there any charts or rules of thumb like this for elevation from tee to green? I don’t mean elevation as in ‘sea level vs playing in Denver’. I mean, for example, “If I’m on a tee box that’s elevated 50 feet from the green, roughly how much shorter does it play?”

    • Justin Padjen

      Aug 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      We have a similar animated video on “Ups & Downs”, but it has not been released publicly yet. Stay tuned for more from TrackMan University!

  7. Zeta

    Aug 11, 2015 at 5:42 am

    Made a chart with meters: http://i.imgur.com/eQJhaft.png

  8. B C

    Aug 10, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    I use the wind speed as the percentage that it will affect to ball when hitting into a headwind. So your 150 club will go 135 into a 10 mph wind. And 120 into 20. The percent goes up slightly with more lofted clubs. But if you apply that “formula” to the chart above its pretty close.

    Most people way underestimate the effect of a headwind. It’s hard mentally to make a full 8 iron swing from 120 yards though if you normally hit it 150. If the wind dies then the ball is WAY deep. Better to learn a knockdown shot to reduce spin and height.

    Think of it this way. The longer the ball is in the air the more effect wind has on the shot. Keep it lower and it will get there faster and be less affected.

  9. Philip

    Aug 10, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    I can tell by feel what 1/2/3/4 club wind is and I’m always tweaking it as i play. I personally think this is better than simulating on a trackman as you do not have access to wind speeds during play – you can only feel the wind and look at tree tops (which I keep forgetting to do). That being said, the last few times I played I was beginning to realize that a tailwind is approximately half of a headwind and this article just confirms it – thanks.

  10. other paul

    Aug 10, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I would have really appreciated a formula ????

  11. Mat

    Aug 10, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I sure would like to see more of these Trackman U videos. Anyone have a site address?

    • Justin Padjen

      Aug 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you. We are currently hard at work on the “new” TrackMan University. In the meantime, please check out our blog and YouTube page for more content. The links are available in my profile.

  12. WP

    Aug 10, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Good read – thanks. The basic concept is more or less intuitive but I would have underestimated the difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instruction

Davies: How control the right hand at impact

Published

on

Alistair Davies shows you how to work the right hand correctly through the hitting zone with a great drill and concept.

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Instruction

Shawn Clement: Dealing with injuries in your golf swing, lead side.

Published

on

Happy Father’s Day weekend and U.S. Open weekend at none other than Pebble Beach weekend! Whoa, cannot wait to see the golf action today!

In this video, we talk about how to deal with hip, knee and ankle injuries to your lead side as this one is PIVOTAL (pardon the pun) to the success of any kinetic chain in a human. This kinetic chain is a golf swing. Now, what most of you don’t get is that you were born with action; like a dolphin was born to swim. Just watch 2-year-olds swinging a club! You wish you had that swing and guess what, it is in there. But you keep hiding it trying to hit the ball and being careful to manipulate the club into positions that are absolutely, positively sure to snuff out this action.

Your Reaction?
  • 4
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP7
  • OB5
  • SHANK13

Continue Reading

Instruction

Me and My Golf: Par 3 mistakes every golfer makes

Published

on

In this week’s Impact Show, we analyze the mistakes EVERY GOLFER makes on par 3’s and how important a strategy is, in avoiding the common mistakes that ALWAYS get made.

Your Reaction?
  • 5
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending