How To Read The Wind in Golf?

Does the wind play any role in a golf game? The answer is yes, golf matters a lot.

If you ask any of 90 professional golfers in the world after they have played their first round in Masters this month. Winds were at nearly 30 mph in average with gusts to 35. The average score for the whole field was only 75 and just 12 golfers broke par.

Effects of The Wind in Golf

The overall impact of a wind is straightforward enough. Headwinds lessen the distance and the tailwinds aid. However, the effect of a wind is not the same because of the trajectory of every golf shot. The underspin on a shot makes it to arc upward, less with a driver and the most with a wedge. A tailwind could physically push a golf ball forward but also have a tendency to knock down a shot or flatten your trajectory. Apart from pushing against a golf ball physically, a headwind often intensifies the arcing impact and the shot could balloon, which makes it lose even more distance.

Many studies have proved that a headwind of roughly 15 mph can reduce a drive by 15 to 18 yards, while a similar speed tailwind might only add 6 to11 yards. When it comes to a cross wind, the golf ball will move left or right by a different amount, depending on the speed of the wind.

Making things even more challenging is the fact that the speed of a wind is rarely consistent, especially as its speed increases. Those are known as notorious gusts of wind. In general, a period of gustiness usually happens when the speed of the wind goes up in a fluctuating condition. It would reach the peak and then start to subside. If you have enough time, it is best to wait out those spells and strike under more consistent or calmer wind conditions. If that is not enough, there are some disturbances in the air that are skulking out there. Eddies, which are the large swirls of air, are quite common but basically go undetermined in the clear air if there is not trash, leaves, or dust in the air to show them. Those vortices could be horizontal or vertical and might change the wind direction and speed rapidly. You can see those elements as the reasons for unexplainable reactions in your golf ball.

The inconsistency of a wind is usually generated by topography. The entire airflow might be channeled or blocked and greatly changed by some topographic features, including mountains, valleys, and hills. If the topography is flat, then the wind would be less variable. A coastal golf course with an on-shore flow from a fairly smooth ocean surface is the best one that you will get, while a mountain golf course might be the worst.

What Should You Do?

The first thing you should do is checking the weather forecast before going out for a golf game. This would help you understand the expected direction and speed of the wind. The next step is to use this information when you are playing.

During the game, it requires the knowledge of the course layout, particularly the compass direction of every hole. Put all of these together with the forecast wind direction and you will know whether a specific hole would be playing downwind, upwind, or with the cross wind.

Professional golfers often use hole diagrams with the common wind noted. After arriving at the golf course, they will size up the winds. Generally, they often know what the customary or prevailing conditions are (for example in the summer, a wind tends to come from the southwest) and have a tendency to focus more when these usual conditions change, as they perform from time to time, to unusual directions. When it comes to meteorology, the frontal passages are important. When a front passes, the direction of the wind sometimes shifts 180 degrees. And the wind is often very strong. That is what occurred at the Augusta this month.​

How could you tell the speed of a blowing wind without an anemometer? In fact, you can definitely feel the wind on your body and identify its direction as well as intensity. Throwing up blades of grass in the air is a basic method to determining a wind, but many professional caddies and meteorologists agree that it would not help a lot. A well-stroke shot by a good player with any clubs would be from 80 to 85 feet above the ground. As wind speed goes up with height, usually dramatically so. That is even more obvious when you stand on the ground either by trees, buildings, or the topography.

When it comes to determining the speed of the wind, it is more about having a gut feeling that is based on your past experience. This is actually a skill that most players and caddies improve with experience: how to measure the wind. The best thing you can do is checking any nearby trees to know what the wind is blowing higher up. A small branch will start to move as the wind reaches 10 mph. A wind of 20 mph would move a larger branch. When you could see the green, of course, you might see the flag on the pin. If it is extended, the wind speed is possibly at least 10 mph.

Many golf gurus have created some general rules that you can apply for the wind in golf. With these rules, you can get specific yardage changes that you could expect for various wind directions and speeds.​

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