METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
A golf game is highly influenced by weather. This is especially true since professional golf can not be played indoors. Players are at the
mercy of the elements. Since a round of golf can take most of the day for the entire field to play, the weather conditions can vary dramatically
depending on if the round of golf is played in the morning or afternoon. Weather can add an advantage or disadvantage for players depending
on how the weather changes. For example, the wind could be nearly calm in the early round of golf but then the wind can be gusty in the
afternoon. As another example, there could be dew on the grass in the morning and then dry conditions in the afternoon. As a third example,
the morning conditions could be nice and then rain showers move through during the afternoon. Below are several weather elements that can
impact a round of golf and how players prepare for it:
Rain: Rain (or any water such as from dew or a sprinkler system) will produce a slower course. The weight of the water and “stickiness” of
the water will cause a rolling golf ball on the grass or turf to slow down more quickly that a golf ball rolling on dry grass or turf. Thus,
golfers have to compensate by hitting the ball a little harder when putting on wet greens. If rain is heavy enough (or if there is any
lightning) then play can be delayed. This can cause some golfers unexpected issues such as having to play an extra portion of the round
the next day. Golfers that are able to adapt to the changing field conditions (wet vs. dry) will have an advantage during a tournament.
Wind: Strong wind is arguably the most difficult weather issue to deal with. A golf ball is fairly light and when driven it will be exposed
to the air for many seconds. A strong wind will dramatically alter where the ball lands. Winds that are gusty and variable in direction make
it more difficult to compensate for the wind. To reduce the impact on the ball from a strong wind blowing in toward the golfer, some
golfers will strike the ball on a lower trajectory so that the wind exposure is reduced somewhat. The wind speed tends to dramatically
increase with height, thus a low trajectory will reduce the exposure of the ball to strong wind. Also a low trajectory can cause the
ball to be in the air a shorter amount of time and a longer portion of the drive or shot of the ball will consist of the ball bouncing
and rolling along the ground. The wind speed is weakest at ground level. Other techniques golfers will use is waiting for the wind
speed to slow if a gust is occurring, driving the ball higher in the air if the ball is going with the wind in order to produce a
longer drive, and laying up the ball to reduce the chance of making a dramatic mistake on a long drive or long shot.
Extreme temperatures: As with any sport, extreme temperatures make the work of the sport more difficult. Hot weather can reduce endurance
and produce cramps. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and towel off sweat that can interfere with concentration. Cold weather
can make it more difficult to have perfect form when hitting the golf ball. Golfers can somewhat compensate for extreme temperatures
with proper clothing and mentally preparing by having a positive attitude regardless of the temperature.
Humidity: High humidity makes it more uncomfortable to play especially when temperatures are high also. The secret to dealing with sweating
humidity type weather is to wear special clothing that helps remove moisture from the skin. This allows for extra evaporation to keeps
the player cooler and drier. It is also important to have a towel for the face sweat and it is important to drink LOTS of fluid. It
can be more difficult to have a positive attitude during high heat and high humidity situations thus calming the mind can help improve
the golf game during these situations.