Playing golf at high altitudes

© 2017-Uinta County Herald

It’s time to break out the golf clubs, or sell your wood shafted clubs for something a little more modern, and head out to Purple Sage Golf Course to take advantage of Evanston’s golf course. What a great way to get exercise and sunburned at the same time. 

Golf is an interesting sport with a long history. The only thing most golf historians can agree on is that the modern game was invented in Scotland. There had been similar games for hundreds of years but defined the sport and sending it on its path to what we consider golf, started in Scotland.

It is doubtful that the account given by the late Robin Willliams of how golf started is accurate, but it was funnier. The game was taken far too seriously in the beginning and was even banned at various times. Once it was banned because it was found not to be a “profitable sport.”

Most golfers think about the lush courses in places like Georgia, or the desert links found in Mesquite, Nev. or in Arizona. Others think about Scotland with the Atlantic Ocean contrasting against the bright green grass of the course. 

Many courses are located at sea level or lower elevations and a golfer learns fairly quickly how far they can hit the ball with various clubs.

And then they come to Evanston.

At nearly 7,000 feet, a golfer unfamiliar with playing at high altitudes can quickly find themselves off their game. They will soon figure out they are hitting farther and find themselves playing the fifth hole when they teed off on the fourth hole.

Calculating yardage at high altitudes can be a challenge for any golfer, even the professionals. The ball will go farther because the air is less dense. Low-landers coming to Evanston soon find it’s not only more difficult to calculate yardage, it is also more difficult to walk the course without finding it hard to breathe. With the air being less dense, there is less friction on the ball and therefore, less to slow the ball’s forward motion.

There are many formulas for calculating yardage at high altitudes to ensure correct club choice but one simple formula is to use the distance marker then walk off distance between your ball and the marker. If you are ten feet behind a 150-yard marker, you have 160 yards to the middle of the green.

Golf Digest suggests you subtract 10 percent to account for altitude. Your 160-yard shot will travel 16 yards farther at a high altitude because of the thin air; you would choose a club you would use for a 144-yard shot at a lower altitude.

Golf Digest says the 10 percent rule is more of a “ballpark figure.” Temperature and humidity will also factor in, along with how you typically hit your shot. Players who hit mostly low-trajectory shots will see less distance than ones who hit high trajectory shots.

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