QA Temperature Wind and Ball Flight

By Frank ThomasApril 11, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from The Golf Channel's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
There was a lot of talk about cool weather at The Masters affecting ball flight but no real information. What are the effects of a ten degree cooler temperature on ball flight? Thanks.

The air temperature has a significant effect on the flight of the ball. At cold temperatures the air is more dense and the ball will not fly as far. We were exposed to this at the Masters last week and especially on Sunday. I do believe that the effects of the temperature may not have been fully taken into account on the second shot on 15 on Sunday by Tiger or his second shot on 17, which landed short and in the bunker. In both cases I believe the error could have be temperature related.
As a good first estimate and something easy to remember you should compensate just over 3 yards per 10 degrees F for a carry distance (drive) of about 230 yards and proportionally less for the shorter shots.
The temperature was at least 30 degrees F below normal for the Masters this year at Augusta National so for a 230-yard carry on Sunday one needed to play it about 10 yards longer than you would at 80 degrees F. Not only because of the air temperature but also because the ball temperature is down and will not perform quite as well as it would at 80 degrees. Dont forget also the effect that low temperatures have on your body.
Bottom line is that Augusta National was harder than it needed to be this year and the temperature didnt help.
Stay warm.
I am a 45 year old with the height of 5'8' I have been playing for a long time and am a scratch handicap. Here is my problem, or so I think: I hit my driver on average 280 to 285, but I have a problem hitting my irons. Most of my friends hit their irons farther than I do; for example, they hit a 9 iron around 135, and the most I can hit it is 110. I am generallly hitting one or two more clubs than they are. Can you help me with this?

If you are hitting your drives 280 plus and your 9-iron only 110 yards, then there is something going on, but I wouldnt be too concerned if youre hitting your irons well and consistently. Having said this, though, we need to ask why, when your head speed using your driver results in 280-yard drives, you are only getting 110 with the 9-iron. There are at least three things that contribute to distance with an iron: 1) head speed; 2) loft angle; and 3) impact point on the face. This assumes that the swing path in all three cases is constant .
First, I have no idea why your head speed would be unusually slow with the 9-iron (and presumably also with the rest of your irons) unless the shaft is very much shorter than standard or your technique is very different than what you use with your driver. Either of these two factors could contribute to the slower speed.
Second, the lofts may be similar to what they were forty years ago, when a 9-iron was 48 degrees. This 48 degree loft is now a weak PW. If this is the case, then dont worry, because all you have to do is know which club hits what distance and stop comparing club for club with your buddies. This may turn out to be an advantage if your buddies are looking in your bag to see which club you stiffed to the pin. If they pull out the same club from the same location, they will be 25 yards beyond the flag.
Third; I am sure that you are hitting the sweet spot, being a scratch golfer. But the trajectory could be very much higher than you would like, which could have an effect on the distance. A club head with the center of gravity (c.g.) higher in the club and closer to the face -- i.e., a blade design -- will lower the trajectory and give you a little more distance.
Bruce, I think the bottom line is that we can check out a few things, but if youre hitting the ball well with your irons dont worry about your buddies. Just make sure that you know how far you hit each club and use them accordingly.
Hi Frank,
I like your website and articles in Golf Digest. I am an 8 handicap. I use a Cleveland Launcher 400 with the Fujikura stock shaft (stiff). I hit it between 230 - 250 carry. My ball flight is a mid/high trajectory. I am thinking about buying the original Cleveland Hi Bore with a Grafalloy Pro Launch 65-stiff (I also have a choice of UST Proforce V2, Aldila NV65, and Fujikura Hi Bore Silver stock shaft). What is the difference if I got the 9.5 or the 10.5? I live in Houston, Texas, so the wind is a factor quite a bit; I play a lot in Hawaii too, where the wind can be very gusty. Would one degree affect my performance? Im looking for a higher ball flight, but would like distance and accuracy. Is there a chance I need a regular flex? I am not sure you have enough information, but I look forward to your diagnosis.

You are right, I don't have enough information to answer your main question, i.e., 'Do I need a 9.5 or 10.5 loft when looking for a higher trajectory, more distance and greater accuracy?'
What you need to do is determine what your existing launch conditions are, and then select the loft to increase the launch angle if you feel the flight is too low. A softer shaft will also increase the launch angle a little, but don't change from a shaft flex that feels comfortable just to change the trajectory. Your existing shaft flex seems to be fine, considering the carry distance youre getting now. Your launch angle (for your swing speed, which I assume is close to 100 mph) should be about 12 degrees with a spin rate of about 2,500 rpm. For more carry distance you can increase the launch angle by about 1 degree and decrease the spin a little. For more roll or windy conditions, decrease the launch angle.
I don't know how much more I can help you without watching your swing and measuring your launch conditions using various club heads and shaft configurations.
I would say in general that you are pretty good where you are with your existing equipment, so don't mess with what you've got.
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
Rory McIlroy at the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Getty Images

McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 3:40 pm

Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.

So much for easing into the new year.

So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.

“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”

McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.

If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.

“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.

McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.

“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”

A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.

A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.

Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.

To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.

Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.

McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.

“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.

A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.

“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.

Getty Images

Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

Getty Images

McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''