But now Golf Magazine has posted an article on how mud affects the flight of your ball. Not guesses, folks -- they went out and got some actual test data that can help!
This is a very thorough article and you need to read it to get all the different info they included. There's a list of different ways that mud affects ball flight, and there's also a graphic to help you get a quick visual guide. But one quick note: The testers were all right-handed, so you lefties will need to take that into account when you read the article.
Here's the brief section of the article that sets the stage:
Deciding how a muddy ball will affect your shot's trajectory has always been a guessing game. Traditionally, it's been assumed that as the ball flies, the mud creates air resistance—or drag—that sends the shot in the direction of the ball's soiled side. So mud on the ball's left quadrant, for example, would tug the ball to the left. But there's never been compelling data to confirm or refute this assumption—until now.
With the help of the Keiser University golf staff in West Palm Beach, Fla., GOLF used TrackMan to analyze 400 "muddy" 6-iron shots hit by 10 single-digit-handicappers. We used weighted lead tape to simulate a 1.9-gram chunk of dirt (a bit less than the width of your thumb) clinging to various locations near the ball's equator. We compared these 400 swings with some mud-free base swings, then tallied the results.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, every single "muddy" ball curved in the opposite direction of the sphere's dirty side (results, right). It's clearly time to rethink our assumptions about mud's effect on ball flight.The post has A LOT of info that the Golf Magazine testers learned, and it's presented in a very easy-to-read format, so you will definitely want to pop over and read it.