What Golf Balls Should You Use in Cold Weather?
Rudyard Kipling of short story writing fame is – whimsically, at least – given credit for inventing the “winter” golf ball. While the English writer was living in Vermont in the 1890s, he would indulge his passion for the game by painting his golf balls red before going out for a round in the snow. More than one hundred years later, no manufacturer produces a golf ball specifically for winter. However, there are everyday balls on the market you may want to consider using as your go-to cold weather ball.
How much does cold weather affect a golf ball?
When the temperature drops, even an object as hard and seemingly unyielding as a golf ball feels the chill. Studies by the United States Golf Association have concluded that for every drop of ten degrees, a golf ball loses about two yards of carry at average (90 miles per hour) swing speeds. So, if your five-iron flies 160 yards when it is 80 degrees outside you can expect it to travel only 152 yards at 40 degrees. That is a one-club difference.
It is not just the golf ball itself that is impacted by cold weather. The club faces become cold enough to reduce the transfer of energy between the two forces and lessen ball speed. Combined with increased density of cold air on the course that creates more friction in flight, and you are looking at a loss of even more distance.
What golf balls play best in cold weather?
Low compression golf balls perform better in cold weather since they compress fractionally more and thus travel further. Traditionally, cold-weather golfers have turned to a women’s golf ball in the frigid months. These balls are manufactured with lower compressions to complement a woman’s slower swing speed. An added benefit is that many “women’s balls” come in brighter colors that are easier to spot in frosty conditions.
In recent years, manufacturers have embraced low compression throughout their product lines, so there are now plenty of brand name balls primed for winter use. The Titleist NXT Tour S is Acushnet’s newest entry into the low compression field. The Bridgestone e6 Soft features a soft Surlyn cover and a low compression core to maximize touch and feel in cold or hot weather. The Srixon Soft Feel is engineered for slower swing speeds and is a go-to winter ball. Callaway charged into the low compression market with its Tour-level Chrome Soft and went all the way down to 38 compression with its Supersoft ball. All of these brands are available in high visibility yellow and other color options.
What can you do to fight back against cold weather?
If you are a cold weather player, there are some things you can do to combat the conditions. First, it takes a while for the temperature of a golf ball to drop to the level of the air temperature. Help keep that extra bit of warmth in your golf balls by keeping them inside your car and not the trunk. You can even heat golf balls with a hot towel or leave them under a radiator before you play. It is illegal, however, to warm your golf ball during a round. If you have an important winter match, change golf balls every couple of holes before they have a chance to get cold.
Ultimately, success at winter golf boils down to good play and consistent contact. Being bundled in layers of warm clothing can impede the golf swing and makes contact even more critical. No golf ball will be a substitute for crisp contact, but choosing a more favorable ball will give you the confidence that you have done everything possible to maximize your chances of success.