Golf at high altitude is a scenic and exhilarating challenge. If you are golfing in the mountains, here are a few things to think about to get the most out of your game. The thin air, dry conditions and variable weather are just a few of the elements to consider. Attention to these details can all but ensure a great golfing experience in the mountains.
The air is thinner and the ball spins less. If your driver has a lower launch angle, the ball won’t climb as high into the air off the clubface. The ball then falls out of the sky more quickly. Consider using a driver with more loft and/or a shaft with a low kick point to maximize the carry on your drives.
If you typically play a ‘low-spin’ ball, play a ball that spins more for your rounds at high elevations. Keep in mind a ball that spins less, also curves less. That means hooks and slices are minimized compared to similar shots on low-land golf courses.
Be aware that mountain golf can be very different from the golf you regularly play closer to sea level. High altitude golf can be extremely hot and dry. Be sure to hydrate significantly prior to your trip, while traveling and during your stay in the mountains. Your body works harder at higher altitudes. Be sure to eat small frequent meals to stay sharp during your round. Avoid the hottest part of the day and alcohol until you become acclimated to your surroundings. All these precautions can help ward off altitude sickness and fatigue.
Due to the thin air, the intensity of the sun’s rays is greater in the mountains than in other parts of the country. Sunburns at high altitude can be significant and can really put a damper on the rest of your visit. Frequent application of a heavy duty sunblock will serve you well, even on a cloudy day. You may also consider sunglasses with polarized lenses to protect your eyes.
Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Storm clouds can build right before your eyes. There is often lightening associated with these storms. Check the weather forecast before your tee time, familiarize yourself of storm procedures at the facility you are playing and plan for a few contingencies. Packing an extra towel, umbrella, a fleece top and a rain jacket in your bag are all advisable. Just as quickly as these storms build, the skies can become clear and sunny. Consider synthetic shirts as they tend to dry faster than cotton.
Technically, experimenting with a driver with more loft and a ball with more spin, you can maximize the advantage of playing at a high altitude. Understanding the dynamics of how differently the ball flies at elevation can help you manage your game better. Anticipating the sun’s powerful effects can help you avoid overexposure and fatigue. Planning for weather contingencies can also give you a good chance to play your best golf. Add all these elements together to more thoroughly enjoy your mountain golf experience.