As the World Golf Championships heads to Mexico this week, some have some concerns about how players will deal with the conditions at the golf course.
This time though, it’s not about the turf, but the air. And the thinness of it.
The host course this week is the Club de Golf Chapultepec which climbs to 7835 feet at its peak and is 7603 feet at its lowest point, according to ShotLink data. Playing to a par of 71, the full length of the course is 7330 yards, but it will effectively play a lot shorter as golf balls fly further in the thinner air at high altitude. No physics lesson to follow, just accept that it does.
Already this week we have seen massive yardages posted by some players on social media or mentioned in interviews – drives in the 380 yard range and pitching wedges going 180 yards seem to be routine.
How will players adjust seems to be the concerns from fans and pundits alike. Well, it might be a lot easier than you think. For some players the homework started far before their practice rounds.
Although some people are very critical about the use of technology in golf coaching, this is a another situation where players can use technology to their advantage.
For players who make use of radar tracking systems like Trackman or Flightscope, they might have already figured out just how far they will hit the golf ball long before they arrived in Mexico City.
Both these radar devices include altitude settings so players can easily calculate the distances they achieve at sea level into what yardage they will create at any particular elevation.
Each players launch angle and the spin they create will also factor into this equation so having THEIR numbers versus using a general math conversion like “10% more” makes the radar work more exact.
Yes, they can adjust their yardage during their practice rounds this week but knowing those yardages in advance and then simply confirming them gives them a head start over their fellow players.
Of course, with many of the TOUR player now using launch monitor technology on a regular basis, there may only a few players getting left behind in the technology gap.
Just how much difference does altitude make?
For a simplified comparison, a drive hit with 170 mph ball speed, launched at 15 degrees, with a 2000 RPM spin rate and landing on a hard surface at sea level would normally carry approximately 295 yards and roll out to 320 yards. The same drive at 7700 feet? It would carry 330 yards and roll out to around 362 yards.
You can test the Flightscope Optimizer online yourself to find to play with elevation changes and other parameters to see how it might affect your shots. You can find that at this link.