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'If it's breezy, swing easy' | How weather could impact golfers at the John Deere Classic

Temperatures, humidity, wind and precipitation can affect your golf game - both positively and negatively.

MOLINE, Ill. — Wednesday marked Pro-Am day for the John Deere Classic. We will have great weather for the most part, but as we near the weekend, there is a chance for some showers. 

Unsurprisingly, the weather affects golf because it is an outdoor sport. Here's a breakdown of the best weather to golf in and what other factors can help players out on the course. 

Warm is best

Overall, warm and sunny weather is the best condition for golfing. In fact, humidity and heat help golfers because golf balls tend to travel a little bit farther. 

This is because hot and humid air is lighter than air that is cold and dry. Heat reduces the density of the air by causing it to expand. Humidity can reduce density because water vapor is lighter than dry air, so the more water vapor in the mixture, the less dense the air. This allows the ball to travel a bit farther.

RELATED: Day 1 | John Deere Classic's Pro-Am begins at TCP Deere Run

Colder air puts a damper on a golf ball, meaning it's not able to travel higher or farther.

Andrew Rice at his coach camp conference in 2018 conducted a series of tests on a Trackman golf simulator to figure out exactly how much cold weather affects the distance of the ball. He found that golfers who hit their drives about 250 yards will lose about two yards on their drive for every 10-degree drop in temperatures. The same can be said when it gets warmer — for every 10-degree increase in temperature, you will gain about two yards.

The distance of how much you can gain or lose decreases the shorter the club is. For example, on a pitching wedge, you will only gain or lose about 1.3 yards for every 10-degree increase or decrease in temperatures.

A golfer's swing is also impacted by cold air in a pretty simple way. Their swing is restricted because they could be wearing more layers of clothes to stay warm.

Wetter isn't better

Now onto wet weather, which can impact anything such as how a golfer grips their club or the ground where they tee off from.

When it's wet out, the ball tends to stick more on the soft ground versus the firm/dry ground, resulting in shorter shot distance. Wet weather can cause “mud balls,” which occur when debris from the ground sticks to the ball. 

Wet weather can also affect the speed of the course most notably on the greens when the golfer is attempting a putt. This wet weather effect became a major storyline in the 2018 U.S. open by causing the course to be played so fast that the States Golf Association had to issue an apology due to the playability of the course.

There are things you can do to adapt to the rain unlike when it is cold. If it is cold, the best thing you can do is practice. This will help you get used to the cold. 

When it is wet, you can use woods instead of irons since rain makes them even more slippery. If you don’t have woods, you can get winter golf gloves to get a tighter grip. 

There are technical things you can do while playing to adapt to the rain such as:

  • Hit the ball harder in the rough since wet ground makes the ball run slower. 
  • Grip further down on a club to promote solid contact on wet ground. 
  • Try to get the ball as close to the pins as possible.
  • Do not overhit a ball out of sand it comes out faster and further.

Wind changes where the ball lands

Last, but not least, let's talk about how wind impacts a golfer's game. This Thursday will have gusts up to 25 mph coming from the south. Our models don't go through the end of the JDC, but we do know the wind will impact at least Thursday.

Wind can affect golf by the physical location of the golf course and how the golf course is made. 

The direction of the wind also influences the ball. A headwind, or wind that comes from the front, hurts more than a tailwind, or wind that comes from behind. 

Both can impact how much bounce and roll effect where you pick your landing spot. Headwind shots fly higher and land steeper while tailwind produces shots that fly lower and land flatter. 

In an experiment using an amateur golfer who swings a 6-iron at 80 mph with no wind, the golfer hit the ball a distance of 153 yards. With a 10 mph tailwind they gain 8 yards and in 20 mph tailwind hit it an extra 12 yards. 

With headwind at 10 mph, they lost 13 yards, and at 20 mph headwind, they lost 30 yards. When it is windy outside on the golf course, golfers should remember “if it's breezy, swing it easy.”

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