Monday, February 19, 2007

Draw it Long and Straight in a Crosswind...

Cold and Windy...

Things have begun to dry out here in Houston. We are currently on the backside of a cold snap that included a series of fronts that kept the lows near freezing and the winds howling. Perfect conditions for playing your home course.

I spent a few evenings playing Green Caye in close to freezing temps with 15 – 25 mph winds. I was cold initially, but once I started playing I was fairly comfortable. One evening on the 8th I stepped into a puddle and by the 18th my foot was pretty cold. I played all over the place. The first night the cold hit I shot 35/34. The next time we went out was the coldest night we played. It was 35 degrees when we came in and the winds were 15-25 out of the NNW. That night I shot 33/32. I only hit three greens that night, but I managed nine pars and only one double. Then, like golf likes to do, I went out a couple nights later and shot 38/38 with six doubles and one triple.

The weekend rolls around and I find myself with an opportunity to play in daylight so I head back down intending to play 27 holes. The wind was fiercely blowing out of the NNW at 20-30 with huge gusts. This would be the same weather that Watson would play in the next day in Florida. I ended up playing 36 holes shooting 38/32, and 37/33.

I consider 32-33 a good round just like when I shoot in the 80s on a regulation course. Similarly, 34-36 would be an average round (90s on a reg course) and 37 and above is just a bad day (100s on a reg course). I was hoping this would be the month that I would have a scoring average below 35, but 37s and 38s will make that very, very difficult.

One particular hole has me thinking...

First, to give you a feel for the wind, number 5 is 175 yards and I normally play a 6 iron to the middle of the green. A NNW to NW wind blows straight from the pin to the tee box. I hit the green twice on Saturday with a 3 iron right in the middle. I tried with a 4 iron and came up a few feet short.

Now on number 9 (216 yards), you have a pretty pure crosswind blowing left to right. On this hole I normally hit a 5W. With a big crosswind like we’re having lately, I can’t hit the 5W because I can’t hit a reliable draw (lateral movement of ball flight into the wind) with that club and a fade would be disastrous. So, out comes the 3 iron. I close the club face for a pretty good amount of draw and fire at the left side of the green. The shot flies straight toward the left side of the green and the wind only starts to overcome the draw spin at the very end of the ball flight and it drops off slightly to the right, a foot or so short and rolls up ten yards or so onto the green. The next time, I do the same thing and I hit the green and roll up near the back of the green.

Now here’s my observation...

I normally can’t hit the green (even on a clam, warm summer day) with my 3 iron. Some readers may recall I used to hit a 4 iron and 3 iron onto this green using my Dads clubs, but I can’t hit my J33s as far as those clubs. So, I’m thinking that the draw spin on the ball, together with the wind straightening the flight path adds a very significant amount of yardage. For comparison, last night I was down there and of four shots the closest to the green was still 15 yards short (in relatively calm conditions).

I think it’s accepted by most golfers that a draw will travel farther than a straight shot or a fade, mainly because the spin on the ball adds roll. By my observations, I think maximum distance is attained with the conditions stated above. So, I’m left with these questions:

1. Is maximum carry distance achieved when the amount of draw is such that the ball flies straight to the target?
2. Does the same apply for a fade?

Has anyone observed similar results?



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