Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Warning: Don't Read This If You Hate Physics!

Below is a question and answer about hitting the the golf ball but I warn you it involves some talk about physics. If your stomach starts to wrench at the thought of reading anything related to such a vile subject then please skip this post.

On the other hand it can be explained simply by saying "What weighs more - a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?" Of course they both weigh the same if they are both a pound.

Don't let me confuse you any further. Just read the gosh darn thing.

Q - If a 6'2" golfer swung at 120 mph, would his ball fly farther than a 5'6" golfer swinging at the same speed? All other things being equal, is this correct?
A - No, the mass and acceleration in "mass times acceleration" is the mass and acceleration of the club. All things being equal, a 120 mph club swung by anybody is a 120 mph club to the ball regardless of the person hitting it. The velocity of the ball is related to how well the momentum of the club is transferred to the ball. However, in order to accelerate the club, a 6'2" person will use less muscle to get the club up to speed compared to the 5'6" person. That is the mechanical advantage of the moment arm that you mention. Hope this helped.
Chris Murphy, P.E.
Air Force Research Lab

Moral of the story is that like everything else in life, us smaller people have to work harder to produce the same results as our height advantaged bretheren.

Golf Times


Blogger Erik @ The Sand Trap said...

That's so bad it's almost entirely misleading.

Not only can people accelerate at different rates and arrive at the ball at the same speed (120 MPH), but it doesn't matter much how tall someone is in regards to acceleration.

Besides, F = mv^2 is the better formula here, and that still ignores things like shaft flex, CoR, where you hit the ball on the clubface, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Finally, a taller person likely has longer arms, too, and since arms weigh more than a club's shaft, the taller person has to accelerate more weight to the same speed. Thus they actually likely do more work than the shorter golfer.

The real advantage taller golfers have is that their swing radius is longer. If they can pivot angularly at the same rate as a shorter person, the clubhead (at the outer end of the radius) moves faster.

3:59 PM  
Blogger dave said...

Well I hate physics and I read it and I still hate physics maybe more now. BUT you told me not to read it. Next time I will listen but I did understand what you said.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Mattb said...

Hey Dave,

Thanks for the post. I'm glad you understand hat I said because I barely do.

7:15 PM  

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