Golf Balls and Cold Weather

ball-winter.jpgThose of us that live in places with a cold season understand all too well how the cold affects our golf games.

For one, ball flight is going to be shorter because cold air is more dense and creates more drag on the ball. Depending on how cold it is, you might see a decrease in distance of a club or two. Equipment expert Frank Thomas says that for every degree that temperature increases, there is about one foot of added carry. So, playing in 50 degree weather will give almost 7 yards of additional carry over 30-degree playing conditions.

Many players like to keep an extra ball in their pocket to keep it warm to be able to swap their “live” ball out between each hole. But did you know that this may be having little or no effect?

According to an article at, a golf ball’s optimum playing temperature is around 80 degrees. That refers to the temperature of the ball itself, not to the weather at the time. At that temperature, golf balls will provide the highest amount of compression off the club face.

In addition to that, consider another cold weather fact that Thomas provides: golf balls take about 6 hours to reach ambient temperature all the way to their core.

What this means is that if you store golf balls in your trunk in the cold weather, rotating one in your pocket each hole is not doing you any good because the core is still going to be cold well after your round is over. Those mis-hits are still going to sting and you won’t be maximizing the playability of the ball.

The best approach is to store your golf balls indoors where the temperature is much more warm. Then, rotating them in your pocket will help delay the ball’s temperature dropping to match the outdoor temperature, assuming the inside of your pocket is reasonably warm.

There’s also always the option of using one of those hand warmer things in your pocket which, of course, is a violation of the Rules of Golf.


Further Reading:

Frankly Golf Q&A
How Golf Balls React to Cold Weather (


  1. “There’s also always the option of using one of those hand warmer things in your pocket which, of course, is a violation of the Rules of Golf.”

    It is only a violation if you get caught ;)

    Nothing worse than hitting a golf ball thin in cold weather. Even an old balata covered ball feels like a rock.

  2. Double Eagle says:

    I’m with you on that one. Several years back, I developed a severe toe-hit in the late fall. I spent the winter trying to work it out (intermittently, when I was able to practice). The stinging and “clunk” sound are still fresh in my memory. Hundreds of balls like that.

  3. Jerry says:

    So are there specific golf balls that will react better in cold weather (40 to 50 degrees) than others?

  4. Double Eagle says:

    Jerry, I was recently talking to a pro about that. I think it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve in the cold weather. If you’re just trying to get your distance up closer to summer time levels, you can do what he suggested and play a distance ball like one of the Top Flite or other balls meant strictly for distance. Your spin around the greens might suffer depending on what ball you switch from, so it’s a definite trade-off, but you’ll be able to get your yardage up a little.

    Beyond that, I don’t have a specific recommendation because I tend to play the same ball in the cold and just adjust my club selections. The key is to keep the balls indoors before you play so you minimize the effect of the cold.

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