We’ve all been there before. The rain that gave you and your foursome anxiety all morning clears up just before your noon tee time. You step up to the first tee and rip your drive into the middle of the fairway. Life is good. But upon inspection of your perfect tee shot, you quickly realize you’ve stumbled upon one of golf’s dreaded unforced errors – the mud ball.
Every avid golfer has experienced this serendipitous setback and nearly every golfer knows mud on the ball will almost certainly impact your upcoming shot. But how the mud will affect your shot and how much seems to be a shot in the dark and not something you can accurately take into account when pin hunting against your regular fourball. Thankfully, our friends at Breaking Par set out to test the subject and find if players can make correct assumptions and judgments of their ball flight when presented with the mud ball.
The Breaking Par guys tried to eliminate as many variables as they could during their study, electing to use a machine to replicate a perfect golf swing on each pass. Next, they scoured the earth collecting samples of mud from just about everywhere they could to find a mud consistency that should represent a standard across most playing surfaces. And they tested how mud impacts the trajectory and carry of each iron shot dependent on the side of the golf ball that found the mud – left, right, top, bottom, front and back. Their findings were interesting to say the least. Check out the full video from Breaking Par below.
Mud found on top of the ball doesn’t tend to change the dispersion or carry of your iron shot, but mud found on the bottom of the ball significantly decreases carry distance – upwards of 13 percent. This means you’ll likely need a bit more club if you can see mud on the bottom of the ball.
If you’re unlucky enough to find mud on the front or back of your ball, good luck. This issue is wildly unpredictable, and your best bet is to put a good pass on the ball and hope for the best.
The big takeaways? Mud makes the ball move. As a general rule, it’s going to move about 10 percent of your total carry distance in the direction created by the change in spin on the ball – right side of ball moves left, left side of the ball moves right.
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