In the course of a year on the European Tour, the players visited 31 countries in all different weather conditions. They have played in cold, windy conditions in Scotland and Ireland, under scorching sun in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and let the ball fly in thin mountain air on runways in Switzerland and South Africa. There have also been plenty of perfectly sunny days.
Their golf trip culminates this week in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The event will determine who wins the season-long race to Dubai from the European Tour.
Although everyone who plays the tour certainly collects frequent flier miles, that means traveling constantly adapting to new conditions, temperatures and heights that affect a golf ball
The ball does not fly like that far in the windy, cold Scotland, but in the dry heat of Dubai. But there is also the grass to consider. It picks up the ball one week in South Africa, making it higher and easier to hit, and swallows it or winds it around the next on Dubai's Bermuda grass, a grass that is great for heat that also putts can redirect at the last second
There are also height differences. The ball in the Swiss mountains flies further than at sea level.
Throw in the influence of jet lag and heat or cold on the players, and you have the potential for very different playing conditions every week. And while the world's best golfers figure things out, players, caddies, and coaches said that adaptation takes time and is a learned skill.
"Many professionals are struggling to handle the changes in distance, especially the young professionals, & # 39; said Alan Burns, a professional caddy who works for Justin Harding.
" She go away and bomb it, and there's no calculation for it. After they've been there a little, they want to learn and ask how circumstances affect the ball flight. "
Burns said he gave Harding two yardages: the actual and the "Bryson". The second he named after the PGA Tour pro Bryson DeChambeau, who studied physics at the university and has brought scientific accuracy into his game. Burns gives DeChambeau the honor to show what a golf ball does in different circumstances.
"Let's say it's 170 meters," Burns said. "I will say that our Bryson number is 180. I always called it the altitude number, but he said I don't understand."
The variation in distances based on temperature and height can be large for the same club. Sam Horsfield, who has been on the European Tour since 2017, said he had to adjust his distance to grow up in Orlando.
Under normal circumstances – 75 degrees, near sea level – he hits a 6-iron 200 yards. When he plays in the mountains in Johannesburg or the Swiss Alps, the same club can send the ball 225 yars. But if he finds himself in cold conditions in Scotland or Ireland, he said he could hit that 6-iron 165 meter. "It just depends on the climate," he said.
This week in Dubai, the heat will make the ball fly a little farther, with temperatures predicted in the mid-80s, but the greater concern among some players was the Bermuda grass.
"When you play on Bermuda, you get a lot of kites," said Richard Sterne, a European Tour professional who will play in the DP World Championship, referring to shots that jump out of the rugged and travel farther than expected. "Your technique must be pretty good."
Mr. Burns, the caddy, said that some players like Mr. Harding had two sets of wedges to adapt to the other grass: one set for Bermuda and rye grass, the other for normal and softer conditions.
Mr. Sterne, who became a professional in 2001, said he generally adjusted to different circumstances within a day or two. But it requires work on the training ground and on the job. For him, rest is perhaps the most important variable.
"Our tour is all over the world," he said, noting that the flight home from the Turkish Airlines Open to South Africa took about 10 hours. “We have to adapt to travel and food much faster. The boys in the US don't have to do that. It is heavy for the body.
Michael Bentley, a performance coach at Paradigm Performance Group, said that consistent play in various circumstances required extensive preparation outside of the yardage books. He breaks it down into four components: physical condition, mental state, swing technique and tactical approach.
When it comes to tactical preparation can mean that you have to practice clothing in three layers to get used to colder conditions or in a rain suit even on a sunny day.
"If I can get some emotion from those simulations, I can get something pretty powerful," Mr. Bentley said.
"A player can think:" I know I am 80 percent effective with this shot in these circumstances. "He is not there and says:" This is a brand new 1-iron, I still have these pants never worn before, these shoes are stiff, this ball is brand new. "The guy's stress level is through the roof."
It is that mental component where different circumstances can affect even the best players. Ben Kimball, senior director of championships at the United States Golf Association, founded the United States Women's Open in 2011 and the United States Senior Open in 2018 at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, a course that is 6,000 feet above sea level.
"It yielded an element over which I had no control," said Mr. Kimball. "It set up a wave test that forced them to use their brains without having to manipulate anything on the ground."
The effect of the height on the golfers showed in the scores, he said. The winning score for the Senior Open 2018 was three under par. It was 16 under the year before and 19 under the year after, both courses near sea level.
"It is becoming so much more mental on the height side," he said. "You have to trust what you hit. Will my 8-iron really fly 200 meters?"