Golf Swing Club

Golf Physics


Ever wondered why some golfers appear to hit the ball with almighty force, yet it doesn't travel anywhere near as far as another golfer who appears to hit it with ease.

It's all a matter of physics. Remember:

Distance = Mass X Acceleration

The speed and direction of a golf ball depends upon the forces applied to it during the transfer of energy resulting from the impact of the golf club head to the golf ball.

We all know that energy cannot be created; nor can it be destroyed. Energy can only be transferred from one state to another.

In the case of hitting a golf ball, energy from the body is transferred with to the ball through the club face.

To ensure that this process occurs with optimal efficiency we need to ensure that there is:

  1. Maxiumum energy imparted from the body to the golf club
  2. Minimum loss of energy during transfer from the golf club to the golf ball
  3. Minimum loss of energy during travel of the ball to target

In achieving greater distance and accuracy from hitting a golf ball there are many factors which add to this energy equation.


Golf Balls

One would naturally think that a totally smooth ball would have less drag than a dimpled surface. This is true, and at one time golf balls were manufactured with totally smooth surfaces. It was then noticed by golfers that their old scratched and cracked balls travelled further. It appears that these surface irregularities add spin on the ball. And backspin makes the ball travel a greater distance. From that point forward, golf balls were made with uniform irregularities in their surface, dimples. The purpose of dimples on a golf ball is to help generate the power necessary to lift a golf ball in to the air, and how far it travels.

Offset: if there is too much back spin the ball will stop short, and if there is too little back spin the ball will veer of course, and not be accurate.


Golf Swing

During a golf swing there is a build up of torque with the rotation of the body, and weight transfer. There are two components to the weight transfer both during the backswing and downswing: a side to side weight transfer, and a dynamic weight transfer. Dynamic weight transfer refers to the sequenced synchronization of the angles of both the lower and upper body, while rotating the hips and shifting one's weight from side to side. In order to gain the maximum torque from ones body during the golf swing, this total weight transfer must be executed in a single fluid rotational movement.

This dynamic movement adds to the power and have accuracy of direction of the force imparted to the golf ball.


Choice of Golf Clubs

Golf Club Shafts are often discussed in terms of energy transfer. Many golfers question whether there is more energy transfer from a rigid steel shaft than a more flexible graphite shaft. Using the equation:

Distance = Mass X Acceleration

it may seem at first that the heavier steel shaft will generate greater distance. However, the part of the shaft that contributes to the mass equation is so small [ from the hosel to about 4 inches up the shaft] that it contributes little.

The lower mass graphite shaft is easier to swing at great speed. This means that for the same energy input over the duration of the golf swing, greater clubhead speed is achieved, which can be transferred into more distance.

Offset: The graphite shaft flexing produced more erratic direction of travel, which may offset much or all of the distance.


Driver Club Face

There are two key spots on the face of a driver: the sweet spot and the hot spot

The sweet spot is located in the center of the clubface, and is generally regarded as the most efficient impact point for maximum transfer of energy to the ball. Little or no energy is lost through any twisting of the clubhead during impact.

The sweet spot is identifiable based on the markings on the center of the clubface.

The hot spot is the most efficient impact point for maximum distance. This point is generally slightly higher on the face than the sweet spot. It produces the most efficient launch angle and spin rate. Any experienced golfer truly knows when they have hit the hot spot.

Start your training to hit the larger sweet spot area, then go for the extra few yards the hot spot provides.


Golf Club Selection

For a similar swing dynamic, each golf club is designed to propel the golf ball over a predefined distance. Woods generally add more distance to the ball, but at a cost of direction. In comparing woods and irons we can generalise by saying that:

  • 3 iron equal a 5 wood
  • 2 iron equals a 4 wood
  • 5 iron equals 7 wood

Typical Course Distances are:

Par 3 - Up to 250 yards (229 meters),
Par 4 - 251 to 470 yards (230 to 430 meters),
Par 5 - At least 471 yards (431 meters).


Longest Drive

The total drive distance of a golf ball is the sum of the “carry” of the ball, that is the distance in the air, and the “roll”, that distance from point of impact on the ground to a stationary position

Longest Recorded Carry - " The greatest recorded carry of a golf ball is 418.78 m (458 yards), by America's Jack Hamm, at Highlands Ranch, Colorado, USA, on July 20, 1993."

Longest On Course Drive - "Scott Smith's longest drive of 539 yards during a wind-swept qualifying round in Albuquerque. Standardised Result = 493 m

Longest Off-Course Drive - 720 yards by Paul "St. George" Slater, Feb. 19 2005 on the tarmac at the London City Airport. Slater's weapon of choice for his 720-yarder was an SMT [Superior Metal Technology] O2 driver with 2.5 degrees of loft and an ultra-stiff, 50-inch Apache shaft.

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