Monday, July 1, 2013

Wind and Its Effect On Performance

One of the things I am working on for 2013 Pro Golf Synopsis is to look at wind conditions and its effect on performance. I am looking for any suggestions or information with regards to wind and understanding the patterns and effects of wind. Below is some of my initial observations of the data I've collected and anybody who has suggestions or ideas can help as well. Either comment here or send me an e-mail at

First, I will give an overview of how the data is being recorded.

A. Using the Adjusted Scoring Average Formula

This formula subtracts the average score for the round from par. Then that difference is added to the golfer's score.

For example, if a golfer shoots 66 on a par-72 and the average score was a 74.5 for the day, the golfer's score would be adjusted to 63.5.

(72-74.5 = -2.5 66 + (-2.5) = 63.5)

B. Splitting the difference between Average Wind Speed and Max Wind Speed to come up with a 'wind speed.'

There are 3 measurements when it comes to wind data. Average Wind Speed, Mas Wind Speed and Wind Gust. Wind Gust is faster than Max Wind Speed. However, it is a brief time of when wind speed increases. IIRC, the time is less than 30 seconds. That is partially why I don't include wind gust data. The other reason is that the correlation between the effect of wind gust on performance and wind speed and performance is roughly the same.

C. I am looking at the difference in rankings in Adjusted Scoring Average

I think if you were to just look at the player's ranking in lighter wind speeds vs. heavier wind speeds, it does not tell us much.

If a golfer ranks 3rd in *overall* Adjusted Scoring Average, then they are likely to rank well in Adjusted Scoring Average regardless of the wind speed.

I'm more curious about the players who see the biggest drops and biggest improvements when the wind speed changes; then look at to what they do that makes them more or less effective when the wind picks up.

D. For some of the sake of posterity, I have split the scoring data into 1 mph wind speed increments

This will allow me to split the data any way I deem fit.


I have only gone thru halfway of the 2012 season. The idea is to do the 2012 season first, see what the data suggests and then go into the 2013 season. If something jives between the 2012 and 2013 data, we start to see a trend. I hope that this will eventually evolve to something where we can discover enough 'truths' and 'trends' that it can be applied to the average amateur's game as well.

Here is what I've discovered so far (again, not concrete until I compile more data).

1. Wind speeds usually pick up in the afternoon.

Looking at the data which usually shows the recorded wind speeds throughout the day we see that the wind speeds are usually much slower in the morning than in the afternoon. The winds usually pick up around 1pm each day. However, depending on storm patterns that can completely change things.

2. Wind speeds range from 5 to 25 mph with 9-12 mph winds being the most frequent.

3. The more the wind blows the more difficult the course gets. However, the actual difficulty of the course determines what the average score will be with relation to par.

Hard courses are going to be hard regardless if the wind is barely blowing at 5 mph or 25 mph. Easy courses will be easy regardless if the wind is blowing at 5 mph or 25 mph. The courses out in Palm Springs are some of the easiest on Tour. But as the wind picks up they become less easy. Usually we see the scores get worse as the wind picks up in 5 mph increments. So an easy course at 6 mph wind speeds becomes a little less easy at 11 mph wind speeds and less easy at 16 mph wind speeds. The actual difficulty of the course matters the most. But when you're playing in a tournament, the scores will increase as the wind picks up.

4. The players who improve most in the wind appear to have a downward attack angle with the driver. The players who regress the most when the wind picks up tend to have an upward attack angle.

I do not have attack angle data. However, the Tour provides club head speed, spin rate, max height and launch angle data for each Tour player. When looking at this data we start to see that the players who improve the most in windier conditions have radar metrics that indicate that they are hitting down with the driver. In particular, the players that improve in the wind are generating a lot more spin with their driver than those who get worse. I tend to think spin would be a bad thing into the wind. But, I feel that the real issue is not so much the spin rate and is more about the attack angle. This is actually NOT an argument against hitting up with the driver because most rounds of golf on Tour take place when the wind speed is at 12 mph or less. But once you get to wind speeds of more than 13 mph, hitting up with the driver appears to become more problematic.

5. The players who improve most in the wind tend to be better with the wedges

Where I have seen the biggest statistical improvement between the players who improve the most versus the players that regress the most is from the Birdie Zone as well as shots from 125-150 yards. My initial thoughts on this is that it may jive with the attack angle with the driver since we have seen a correlation between attack angles with the driver and Birdie Zone play (golfers with more downward attack angles tend to hit the wedges better). However, there is a small correlation between Short Game play (shots from 20 yards and in from off the green) and improved players in the wind. I think the Birdie Zone play could also be chalked up to par-5's becoming more difficult to hit in 2 shots and requiring the golfer to hit full wedge shots into those greens. And when the wind picks up the GIR % goes down, so one needs to be good around the green so they can save par.

6. The players who regress the most when it gets windier tend to be more aggressive off the tee.

7. There is some data that suggests that where the golfer grew up playing appears to influence their ability to play in windier conditions.

Here's what I have so far as the players that improved the most in windy conditions for the first half of 2012:


1. Charl Schwartzel
2. Tom Gillis
3. Jason Kokrak
4. Tommy Gainey
5. Brian Harman
6. John Merrick
7. Jonas Blixt
8. Boo Weekley
9. Angel Cabrera
10. J.B. Holmes
11. Y.E. Yang
12. J.J. Henry
13. Chris Kirk
14. Steve Stricker
15. Trevor Immelman
16. David Mathis
17. Gavin Coles
18. Kris Blanks
19. Chad Campbell
20. Mathew Goggin
21. Graeme McDowell
22. Danny Lee
23. John Mallinger
24. Graham Delaet
25. Stuart Appleby
26. Matt Jones
27. Daniel Summerhays
28. Chris Stroud
29. Vaughn Taylor
30. Rocco Mediate
31. Billy Mayfair


1. John Daly
2. Ian Poulter
3. Bryce Molder
4. Patrick Sheehan
5. Brandt Snedeker
6. Ben Crane
7. Sergio Garcia
8. Hunter Haas
9. Martin Flores
10. Robert Allenby
11. Bud Cauley
12. Geoff Ogilvy
13. Louis Oosthuizen
14. Dustin Johnson
15. Jeff Overton
16. Rod Pampling
17. Ben Curtis
18. Bill Haas
19. Kevin Streelman
20. Hunter Mahan
21. Bubba Watson
22. Seung-yul Noh
23. Robert Garrigus
24. Keegan Bradley
25. Webb Simpson
26. Scott Piercy
27. Cameron Beckman
28. Martin Laird
29. Kyle Stanley
30. Derek Lamely
31. Mark Wilson


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