How to Calculate Golf Yardages at Altitude

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Golf truly is a global game. With a wide variety of courses around the world, odds are you will play at least one course in your travels that takes you to great altitudes. Colorado is a favorite golf location in the United States, while the rocky terrain of Switzerland has several famous courses overseas. The golf ball travels farther at altitude than at sea level. Professional golfers playing at altitude are very precise with their yardages. With the following tips and suggestions, you can easily calculate golf yardages at altitude.

Calculate Golf Yardage at Altitude

Determine the ideal trajectory for your shot. Lower shots will be less affected by altitude, while shots that travel higher tend to hang in the altitude for longer periods of time, carrying farther.

Choose your club and note its tendencies. Drivers are designed to launch the ball high into the air, while wedges can be played for low and spinning shots.

Add 10 percent of extra distance for every 5,000-foot increase in altitude. If you normally hit your 7-iron 150 yards at sea level, you should plan for 165 yards in the Rocky Mountains.

Add 20 percent if you are playing an extremely high golf course, at 10,000 feet above sea level.

Determine how far your ball actually travels. The carry time will differ based on launch and contact conditions. Every golfer's swing and impact conditions are different, so practice on the range to dial in your yardages on the rangefinder.

Lessen your projected distance the closer you get to sea level. Plan for a decrease in yardage the closer you get to sea level.

Judge the heat, humidity and air conditions. Altitude has more of an effect on extreme air conditions. According to major champion Tom Watson, in the cool morning air, the ball doesn't travel as far. However, as the air dries out and the day becomes hot and humid, the ball starts to jump again.


Practice makes perfect: Experiment with the altitude to see how the thin air affects your individual shots.