How Altitude Affects Golf Ball Distance

Nov 25, 2020 aerial view of green grass field near body of water

If you’ve been around the game of golf for long enough, you’ve probably heard that the ball carries around 10% farther when playing at a high altitude—but how true is this statement?

Here’s everything you need to know about the effects of altitude on golf ball distance and what kind of adjustments you need to make when playing at a higher or lower altitude than normal. We’ll also discuss how a golf ball launch monitor can help you prepare for altitude differences.

What Is Altitude?

Altitude is the height of an object in relation to sea or ground level. The higher the altitude, the colder the air will be. So, how do altitude and air temperature impact the game of golf? The carry of the golf ball, which is how long the ball remains in the air after being hit with the club, relies on a mix of physics and weather.

In higher altitudes with colder temperatures, golf balls tend to travel a lower distance. This is because the golf club and ball are colder, which decreases the transfer of energy. Colder air is also less dense, so there’s less lift and drag. This causes the ball to go further, but apex lower and land flatter.
In lower altitudes, the opposite stands true.

How Many Degrees Difference Does It Take to Affect the Ball?

Let’s assume you’re an average golfer that drives the ball around 250 yards, with a ball speed around 150mph. When golfing at a higher altitude and, therefore, lower temperatures, you can expect to lose around two yards on each drive for every 10 degree decrease in temperature.

For every 10 degree rise in temperature, the average golfer will gain around two yards per drive. However, the carry of the golf ball will also be impacted based on the type of club you’re using. The shorter the club, the less gain or loss you’ll experience on every drive.

So, how can you adjust to golfing in different altitudes so that you stay within your window? How far you launch the ball and the type of clubs you use are the two most important factors.

When driving at a high altitude, you need to launch the ball higher to increase carry. You’ll also want to use a hybrid club instead of an iron club. Hybrid clubs are designed to naturally launch the ball higher, which increases ball carry.

How a Launch Monitor Can Help

golfer playing golf during beautiful sunset

Knowing how to prepare for a change in altitude is all part of the game of golf. Even if you aren’t playing a round at the world’s highest altitude course, knowing how to change your game based on the weather is something that every golfer should know.

Instead of forcing yourself to play in different altitudes or different temperatures, you can make the right adjustments by simply knowing your percentages. If you know your average golf speed and trajectory, you can make changes to your drive based on the altitude and temperature. From there, you can adjust 6-10% to ensure you’re always in your window.

Unsure what your baseline numbers are? Now is the time to invest in a golf monitor from ForeSight Sports. Our launch monitors measure:

  • Ball speed
  • Launch angle
  • Azimuth
  • Total spin
  • Spin-tilt axis

With these numbers, there’s less guesswork involved. Instead, you’ll be able to analyze these data components in real-time, which allows you to make adjustments as needed.

Want to learn more about our launch monitors? Look through our website or contact our team at (858) 880-0179.