Wind doesn’t just send golf balls flying in unexpected directions. It can send golfers’ minds whirling, too.
One of the big reasons why golfers are continually so perplexed by wind is because the better the golfer you become, the more wind starts to affect you. Wind affects the 18 handicap, of course, but the 18 handicap is also most likely hitting the ball lower, with less speed and spin. Better golfers hit the ball higher into the air, which means it’s more prone to gusts. It makes wind one of the rare things that actually gets more difficult, the better at golf youg get.
But Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Andrew Rice, along with his research partner, PING’s Chris Broadie, have cooked up a formula that may be able to help.
2 wind mistakes
Let’s start with the problems. Generally speaking, golfers fall into traps when it comes to judging the wind:
The first is that they overestimate how strong the wind actually is. They feel a 10 mph gust and think it’s a 20 mph gust, or a sustained 5 mile-per-hour wind is actually a 10 mph wind. Rice says to consult your favorite weather app to help you “calibrate” how strong the wind actually is.
The other wind mistake golfers make is thinking feeling the wind blowing at your back, and thinking it’s going to help you more than it actually is. Tailwinds help, but they don’t help as much as you think they do.
Which brings us to Rice formula…
Rice and Broadie crunched the numbers to see how much wind affected “average” golfers, which is defined as golfers with a driver clubhead speed of between than 80 to 95 miles per hour.
Out of that data they created a formula, which bore two interesting results.
1. When hitting into wind, the “miles per hour of wind will be the distance to add.” So, for example, if you’re hitting into a 10 mph breeze, add 10 yards.
2. When hitting downwind, take “half the miles per hour of wind will be the distance to subtract.” That means if you’re hitting down a 10 mph breeze, subtract five yards.
Rice adds one caveat.
“The higher you hit the ball, the greater the effect of wind will be on your golf ball,” he says.
So, if you hit the ball high, you'll probably need to add and subtract more yardage. But nonetheless, it’s designed as a general rule to help you navigate the wind. Treat it as such. Stop relying on that breeze at your back, club up into the wind, and you’ll navigate the wind more happily.