Physics of Golf: The Effect of Humidity

Everyone knows that playing golf at a high altitude will make your golf ball travel further as the air is less dense.

Ko'Olau GolfBut did you know high humidity also causes your golf ball to travel further?

It is counter intuitive and the reason isn’t immediately clear. Surely the air is more dense causing more drag on the golf ball?

The answer lies in the make up of the air itself. Air is made up predominantly of nitrogen, oxygen and water vapour molecules. The nitrogen and oxygen molecules are heavier than the water vapour molecules.

A volume of air of high humidity contains more water vapour molecules than one of lower humidity and therefore weighs less and is less dense per cubic metre.

This leads to less drag on the golf ball which means it travel further in the air.

So ideally, if you were looking to play in conditions where your golf ball will travel the furthest, high on a mountain in high humidity would be perfect.

Or on the moon.

3 thoughts on “Physics of Golf: The Effect of Humidity

  • February 29, 2012 at 20:10

    Don’t even try to explain this to the uneducated.
    They will think you’re crazy!

  • April 25, 2018 at 23:50

    Maybe the distance is effected by the effects of the humidity on the golfer. Humidity is draining on the body.

    • June 22, 2018 at 12:27

      That would play a factor Patrick. But as the video describes, the golf ball goes further in humid conditions.


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