Water can have many affects on your round of golf. It can affect the clothes you wear, the type of shoes you wear, how many towels you carry, the use of an umbrella, and the list goes on and on.
Today though we are going to talk about how water effects your golf ball. Lets start with shots around the green. There are two different scenarios that we can talk about. The first would be the most common when it is wet out and that is the golf ball is wet and the club face is dry. The second scenario would be a dry golf ball and a wet club face. Both of these scenarios have different outcomes.
The first scenario shows that a wet golf ball launches higher then a dry golf ball would. This is due to the fact that water on the golf ball reduces friction on the club face. Thus, allowing the golf ball to slide up the club face slightly producing higher launch, less spin, and higher overall height. When the ball lands it will tend to run out more because of the lack of spin. Thus in wet conditions making it harder to control shots around the green.
Now lets talk about this first scenario with a full swing. If the golf ball is wet and the club is dry in the full swing we will see much of the same interactions with the club as we saw in the wedge shot. The biggest difference can come with that lower spin. When the golf ball has lower spin coming off the club face it can cause the golf ball to go further than expected, thus flying a green. The ball goes further because less spin equals less drag. When this happens it is know as a flyer. These types of shot occur more often out of the rough, but can even happen when the golf ball is wet and in the fairway.
Another type of shot that you can see out on the golf course with the first scenario is one that doesn’t quite go the normal distance and comes up a tad short. What happens on this particular shot is that the water on the golf ball causes the ball to slide up the club face more than normal. With this you have less energy transferred into the golf ball and your ball speed would drop slightly, which would cause the ball to come up short.
The second scenario of a dry golf ball and a wet club face, can produce fairly similar results to a dry golf ball and dry golf club. In this scenario we would see similar results with both the short game and full swing. When just the club face is wet the groves on the club face have much less debris to channel away from the golf ball thus providing more friction. When the club is swinging back and thru this also has a drying affect on the golf club allowing some of the moisture to dissipate before the club strikes the dry golf ball. Typically when the club is wet it produces slightly less spin and slightly higher shot then when the golf ball and golf club are both dry. We see very minimal differences between the club being wet or dry. To get the most spin and control of your height on either a short game shot or full swing you will want to keep those club heads dry as much as possible.
When playing in adverse conditions and the lift clean and place rule is in affect, be sure to dry and clean your golf ball as much as possible as it could make a big difference on full swing and short game shots.