Calculate Wind, Heat, Humidity Effects, Too

By Dan Vukelich

We’ve all experienced that moment. You’re on vacation far from home, you pure an iron into a green and …. WTF … it comes up 8-10 yards short. Only then do you realize you hadn’t considered the elevation difference and the effect of altitude on golf ball distance.

It happened to me (again) earlier this year. We were two holes into our round at East Lake Golf Club, a course that varies from 954 and 1,035 feet above sea level. That’s when I realized I was calculating distances as if I were back home in Albuquerque, 5,280 feet above sea level, where the ball flies much farther than anywhere Back East.

I was playing with my editor at The Met Golfer, a New York City golf magazine. I told him why my first two approaches came up short and laid out my idea for an article on the effect of altitude on golf ball distance. I told him the piece also would explore the effect of wind, heat and humidity, and any other variable I could identify. This wouldn’t be guesstimating. I’d talk to the top experts, I told him.

The piece is a user’s guide. Regardless of where you’re teeing it up, once you understand the individual and cumulative effects of altitude and other environmental variables on golf ball distance, you can walk onto the first tee confident you’ll know how far your shots will travel that day. More