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Make Your Golf Ball Fly In The Wind

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Learn How To Gain Extra Yards From Your Golf Ball On A Windy Day

Playing golf on a windy day generally makes the round a little more interesting. A tail wind will always give you a few extra yards, but a head wind is a different proposition.

Professional golfers can use their experience to select the correct club and judge the effect of the wind. The problem with a head wind is that the elevation of the shot becomes more critical as does the spin on the ball.

Once you fully understand how a head wind affects your golf ball you will probably play the shot a little bit different. The benefit of this will be some extra yards down the fairway.

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Story By Justin Padjen  For www.golfwrx.com

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.

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.

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