As much as you might enjoy a good snowball fight (or not), when there’s a cold snap you don’t want to get stuck playing with a snowball instead of a golf ball. When it’s cold outside you can put on a jacket, hat, and gloves, but what can you do about your golf ball? Did you know that for roughly every ten-degree drop in temperature a golf ball loses 3 to 5 yards in distance? Golf balls just don’t travel as far in cold weather. Luckily, some balls are specially designed to maintain their performance regardless of temperature.
Two factors affect your cold-weather golf game: the outdoor temperature and the temperature of your ball itself. Cold air is denser than warm air, which causes more aerodynamic drag on the ball. In other words, in “thicker” cold air more energy is needed to get the ball moving and to keep it going. Cold weather also means that your golf ball will be colder than when you’re playing in beautiful, seventy-degree weather.
You may be wondering, Why does the temperature of my golf ball matter? It all comes down to compression, or how much a golf ball warps under pressure. When a golf ball is hit it compresses (as seen in the video below).
The compressed ball is denser, allowing it to go higher and farther. When your ball is cold, however, the materials inside of it contract due to thermal expansion (the way that materials expand or contract depending on the temperature). Think about how your muscles tense up when you’re cold; it’s the same effect. When the golf ball material contracts, it is essentially “pre-compressed.” This makes the impact of your swing on the ball feel physically harder and makes it less efficient. The pre-compressed cold ball cannot compress as much as a regular ball to absorb the energy from your swing. The ball will not able to go as far or as fast. Trust us on this.
Luckily for you, there is a special type of ball that can alleviate the negative effects of cold weather: the soft, or low-compression, golf ball. The material used in soft balls does not contract as much in cold weather as the material used in standard, harder balls, helping you maintain distance and speed. If you are playing in temperatures below 50° F, you should counteract these cold weather effects by playing with a softer ball.
So which golf balls fit this bill? Let us share some of our favorites with you. First, thanks to its soft, responsive ionomer cover, the Titleist DT Solo 2014 provides the softest compression feel possible, while delivering on long distance. Next, the soft gradational compression core and surlyn cover of the Bridgestone e6 give you optimal control. The Srixon Q-Star Yellow (besides being easy to find in the snow!) is the perfect balance of spin and control, while the highly resilient Srixon Soft Feel is great for golfers of all swing speeds. The softest ball on the market is the Callaway Supersoft, at just a thirty-eight compression and with superior HEX aerodynamics to combat that dreaded drag. And finally, for the ladies, we recommend the HEX Solaire Pink for its combination of distance and feel that you can enjoy with a soft cover.To maximize the benefits of these golf balls, don’t leave them out in the cold! If you don’t have a portable golf ball heater (yes, they exist), try keeping a few soft, low-compression balls in your pocket, maybe along with a hand warmer, and alternate which ones you use between holes. Because cold temperatures already up the golf challenge due to frozen ground and the need for bulkier clothes, you should take the time to pick a ball that’s outfitted with a “coat” of its own. When there’s a cold spell, play with a golf ball of fire, not a snowball, from Lost Golf Balls.