How To Calculate Distance In The Wind

We reveal some tips to help you judge your distance in the wind

How to calculate distances in the wind
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How do you judge your distance in the wind? If it's through a mix of guesswork and estimation, you might want to start using these handy calculations

How do you judge your distance in the wind? If it's through a mix of guesswork and estimation then you're never going to be as accurate as you could be.

The first thing you need to do is work out which direction the wind is blowing in. This is often easier said than done. On treelined courses the wind can swirl at ground level and, as the flag is blowing in a different direction to the way the clouds are moving, it can become seriously confusing.

The advice here is to try not to worry too much about what the wind is doing at ground level. Instead, look at the clouds, see how the top of the trees are moving and make your decision on the wind based on that. Once the ball gets above the tree line, the wind will come into play.

how to calculate distances on treelined courses

Judging the wind on the par 3, 2nd at Wentworth can be tricky
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crosswinds won't affect your distance too much, while playing into a headwind or with a tailwind behind you can have a huge difference.

Even if you do this well, it doesn't tell you how many yards you need to add on or take off your shot, so to work that out, we recommend using these handy calculations...

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Calculating distance in the wind - Headwind

A great rule to use is to add 1% for every 1mph of headwind. So the following distances would change like this:

100-yard shot into a 5mph wind = 105 yards 200-yard shot into a 5mph wind = 210 yards

100-yard shot into a 10mph wind = 110 yards 200-yard shot into a 10mph wind = 220 yards

100-yard shot into a 20mph wind = 120 yards 200-yard shot into a 20mph wind = 240 yards

100-yard shot into a 30mph wind = 130 yards 200-yard shot into a 30mph wind = 260 yards

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Calculating distance in the wind - Downwind

When playing downwind use 0.5% instead, so judging your distance in the wind would look a bit like this:

100-yard shot with a 5mph tailwind = 98 yards 200-yard shot with a 5mph tailwind = 195 yards

100-yard shot with a 10mph tailwind = 95 yards 200-yard shot with a 10mph tailwind = 190 yards

100-yard shot with a 20mph tailwind = 90 yards 200-yard shot with a 20mph tailwind = 180 yards

100-yard shot with a 30mph tailwind = 85 yards 200-yard shot with a 30mph tailwind = 170 yards

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Calculating distance in the wind - Shot shape

Despite the numbers shown above there is an art to picking the right club in the wind. Part of this is based on your shot shape. The basic concept to bear in mind here is that if your shot is shaping in the same direction as the wind is blowing - the ball will go further. So if you are hitting a draw (or a slice for a left-hander) and the wind is blowing right to left, the ball is likely to go further. You might think this is a huge benefit but, for many good ball-strikers looking for precise distance control when hitting into the greens, this can actually cause problems. For these players, shaping the ball back into the wind is often the better play, creating a softer ball flight that will stop faster after landing.

For those who tend to play with the same shape on the majority of shots, simply keep in mind that the ball will go further when shaping in the same direction as the wind is blowing.