The Cold Hard Truth About Golf Balls

As we head into the chillier months of winter, you may have noticed something unusual happening to your golf balls.

Jason Day experienced the phenomenon when he took an approach shot with his iron 166 yards from the green at the WGC-Accenture Match Play a few years back.

To his surprise the ball didn’t land on the green as he might have expected. It ended up in the greenside bunker instead.

The temperature outside at the time was reported to be a chill 5 Celsius at the time which is not too far away from the conditions we might experience on a UK golf course at this time of year.

So why was Day unable to achieve enough distance on the day? The answer is all to do with the temperature of the ball.

Temperature affects everything from the way the ball spins in the air to how fast and how far it will travel. So knowing how different temperatures can affect how a ball will behave can work to your advantage or even provide you with an excuse if you’re playing badly.

A warm ball for example will travel further because it will fly with more speed of the club face as well as spinning faster. You will also get more loft as a result which is another important factor in achieving distance. Of course the opposite is true when a golf ball is cold.

However it’s not just the golf ball itself which undergoes changes due to temperature. The air around you will also be different. Cold air has greater density than warm air. The molecules in the air will be more closely packed together and this will add to the negative impact colder temperatures have on the physical properties of your golf ball.

The solution if you’re playing in cold weather is to opt for more club. So if you normally use an 8-iron to play a shot in warm weather then in colder conditions try using a 7-iron and so on.

You could also try using golf ball warmers but these may only keep balls warm for a short time. High compression balls will perform less well than low compression golf balls in chilly conditions so storing the former indoors at warmer temperatures should prevent balls from hardening, which may occur when they are stored in a shed or anywhere else where there is no heating.