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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
 
Frank,
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.
 
Jim

 
Jim,
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.
Frank
 
Frank,
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?
 
Bruce

 
Bruce,
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.
Frank
 
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.
Sincerely,
 
Nelson

 
Nelson,
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.
Frank
 
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 letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
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'Hungover' Pepperell improbably in mix after 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 4:20 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eddie Pepperell’s 11:40 a.m. tee time on Sunday at The Open was a tad early, and not just because the Englishman was heading out more than three hours before the leaders.

Following a third-round 71 that dropped him eight strokes off the lead, Pepperell did what many golfers do after a less-than-stellar round – he drank.

“Honestly, I was a little hungover. I won't lie. I had too much to drink last night,” said Pepperell, who said he went to bed on Friday at around 11:30 p.m. “I was so frustrated yesterday, that today was really, I wouldn't say a write-off, but I didn't feel I was in the golf tournament. Whether I shot 69 or 73 today, it wouldn't have been heartbreaking.”

Pepperell was much closer to the former on Sunday, posting a round-of-the-day 67 to move to within one stroke of the lead held by multiple players as the leaders made the turn.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Pepperell had just a single bogey on a blustery day at Carnoustie and closed his round with birdies at Nos. 14 and 17. It was one of just four rounds in the 60s on a course that had become increasingly difficult with each gust.

With six players tied for the lead at 6 under par, including defending champion Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, Pepperell planned to wait and see how the afternoon progressed.

“The only hope I have is that it's Carnoustie, and the last three, four holes, even though they're downwind, still anything can happen with obviously pressure and all that sort of stuff out here,” he said. “So I'll have to hang around.”

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is stalking his 15th career major championship trophy. Follow the action with our tracker to see if he can get it done at Carnoustie.


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Pros melting down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 3:42 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros have been watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We're compiling their missives below:

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.


Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.


Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.