Golf Shots


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As an avid golfer and current student of the sciences, a natural reaction to the blog assignment was for me to write about the physics of a golf swing. I'd like to be able to use these physics to my advantage on the course for better scores and better shots, but the way my game has been going of late it doesn't appear that even Sir Isaac Newton himself could explain to me what I'm doing wrong.

 

The key to any sort of motion in a golf swing lies in the transfer of kinetic energy from the body to the club to the ball. The faster the hands move, the more kinetic energy is transferred to the club, which results in a more powerful strike to the ball, and thus, farther shots with more spin on the ball. An important factor in getting more speed from the hands is the action of the rest of the body. The legs stabilize the stance, which allows the hips to rotate violently, swiftly, and quickly, producing torque that can generate more power to the swing. A golfer like Tiger Woods, as evidenced by a study done by golf scientist Raymond Penner, can reach clubhead speeds of up to 125 mph. An average professional golf swing tends to be between 105-115 mph while the average amateur player's swing can be anywhere from 75-95 mph.

 

Tiger wastes no energy during his swing by keeping a fluid motion at all times, keeping kinetic energy constantly traveling through his swing. He generates power by taking an aggressive backswing, maintaining a fluid transition from the back swing to the follow through, and connecting squarely with the ball, keeping the ball's flight straight and with backspin, not side spin or front spin.

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2 Comments

Nick,
The golf swing can be a hard thing to master and if you don't perform it right a person could hurt themselves. Embarrassing as it is I sprained my wrist golfing but it was because of an improper swing. The fluidity of the swing was hindered and therefore there was an insufficient amount of kinetic energy transferred to the ball; the ball went about two inches in front of me, and my wrist was throbbing in pain.

The golf swing is without a doubt one of the most kinetically precise motions in all of sports. As a golfer of nearly a decade, I know just how precise every motion has to be to properly execute a "fluid" swing. And, I'm sure just like yourself, I'm all too familiar with the sometimes staggering pain of a mishit. The kinetic stresses placed on your back are destructive at best, a grim fact that Rocco Mediate will admit all to readily. This article is a great read on the subject.

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