This week’s Q&A is an excerpt from Dear Frank…Answers to 100 of Your Golf Equipment Questions
I thoroughly enjoy your videos and answers on the net. My question is this – Whenever I am playing near the ocean, be it in New Jersey, South Carolina or Florida it seems that I am at about one club shorter than when I play in my home state of Pennsylvania.
Is this due to humidity, altitude or turf conditions?
If the air is dense, the ball will fly shorter than in less dense air because of the aerodynamic drag properties. As the density of the medium increases so does the resistance to going through it.
Dense air also increases the lift forces on a spinning ball so the ball will have a higher trajectory in more dense air. The density of the air increases when it is cold and when you change altitude from Denver, Colorado to the coast of South Carolina. Also as the humidity increases the air density will decrease not increase as we intuitively believe. The effect of humidity on ball flight is not nearly as significant as altitude or temperature.
You can add about 2.5 yards for every 10 degrees of temperature increase from 35 degrees F, to 95 degrees F. In temperatures outside of this range you should not be on the course at all so don’t worry about it.
I think also in your case Art, the turf may be playing a part in the decrease in distance you are experiencing. My advice when playing at the coast is to estimate your distance and take out an extra club for all your irons and enjoy your beer at the end of the round.