Avoiding the Stinger

August 19, 2011

Professional baseball players and ordinary golfers share a common disdain for playing in the cold. Batters face the stinging sensation that accompanies a 95-mile-per-hour fastball in on the hands, and golfers face the stinging sensation associated with thin shots and hard golf balls. Ouch.

For those brave enough to get out there in the frigid winter months, consider changing to a low compression ball. Choosing the nuggets that have been marinating in your trunk or basement since last October is a mistake. Air temperature wreaks more havoc on distance than the temperature of the ball itself, but balls left in cold places tend to harden, making mis-hits harsher on the hands.

“There are two important points to keep in mind about playing golf in cold weather,” said Steve Ogg, vice president of golf ball research and development for Callaway Golf. “The first is that golf balls are not as resilient, and the second is that the air is denser as compared to warm temperatures. Both of these factors result in a loss of distance. You may even need to adjust your club selection, depending on how cold it is.”

In other words, those high compression balls will not go as far as low compression balls when the mercury drops below about 50 degrees. And if you store them in a cold climate, like your trunk or garage, they’ll harden, which will result in more sting on your mis-hits.

The optimum temperature for a golf ball is 80 degrees. As a ball’s temperature drops, it won’t compress as much off the clubface. For maximum playability, store the balls at room temperature.

Callaway Big Bertha
$25 per dozen
Maxfli Noodle Long and soft
Precept Laddie X
$30 per “double dozen” 24 balls
Nike Karma
Srixon Soft Feel
Titleist NXT Extreme
Wilson Staff Fifty