Hot v Cold golf balls: Distance test

Do warm golf balls really travel further than cold ones? We got up early to find out...

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 15 Jan 2014
Hot v Cold golf balls: Distance test

IT'S recently dawned on me that I hit the ball absolutely bloody nowhere when it’s cold.

The best example I have for you was when I teed up at 4am in the Macmillan 100-hole challenge at Stoke Park Golf Club recently. It was 4°C out there and my dimples were freezing even after a much-needed tea and bacon roll upon arrival.

At the time I simply remember thinking my 220-yard bomb with driver down the par-4 1st had much to do with some late-night drinking in the bar with David Seaman. It probably hadn’t helped matters, and I could have no doubt done with a pair of Seaman’s Umbros, but it was a pretty pathetic attempt at a drive nonetheless.

To be honest at the time I was just happy to hit it straight… and I can safely say it went further than my drive down the 100th when I produced a swing that made Charles Barkley look like Adam Scott.

I then trudged the full 220 yards and hit a 6-iron approach out the middle of the club from around 170 yards to a back right pin. It was all over it, only the ball landed several feet short of the green and fried up my first egg of the day. This would be the story for the opening six holes, at least. Balls were pulling up short of the green on a consistent basis.

Given I was pretty pathetic at GCSE chemistry back in the day, I realised something was going amiss yet hadn’t a clue why. Then again, I couldn’t really be bothered to assess the situation at Stoke Park as it was simply a day for speed golf!

This week, however, I could be bothered - I guess because it is my job - and I looked into exploring the difference between hot and cold balls...

After a quick research of the topic, I came across a quote from Dr Cary Middlecoff in a Golf Digest article from 1980: “At the Crosby, where it is almost always cold, I used to put a dozen balls under the radiator in my room to warm them up, then I’d alternate balls every other hole.”

The night before, I followed the Doc's advice and took out two Bridgestone Tour B330-S balls - dimples I’ve recently been custom fit for - and ensured one spent the night in 2-star Roberts luxury while the other spent the night in the doghouse.

One lucky Tour B330-S was treated to all the amenities it could possibly wish for before hitting the course the next morning. I let him watch his boss Matt Kuchar playing golf by the fire, let him soak in a hot bubble bath and then tucked him into bed by the radiator with a warm glass of cocoa by the side.

The other Tour B330-S wasn’t so fortunate. He was left outside to glaciate in a glass of ice. In fact he even called me during the night asking for a Lemsip but I refused and told him to get some rest.

Waking up bright and early for a 7.04am start at my local course, with fresh dew on the ground and a temperature not budging 3°C (37.4°F), I jumped in the car with the hot ball wrapped in a blanket on the front seat and the cold ball placed in the boot. Yes, he was having a rough ride, bless him.

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