Friday, February 17, 2006

At Least I Can Say I'm Better Than Harry Vardon In One Respect

Legendary professional Harry Vardon, some say the greatest Open Champion of all-time, had only one hole-in-one during his long career.

As luck would have it, and I do mean luck, I managed to get two hole-in-ones in my anything but legendary "career" in golf.

I think I would be willing to trade that extra hole-in-one for the kind of life Harry Vardon had.

Golf Times

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Words of Wisdom from the Merry Mex

Lee Trevino, the Merry Mex. He has got to be the most colorful character golf has ever known outside of Walter Hagen.

I got to see him play in 2000 and followed him for a bunch of holes. The whole time I don't think he stopped talking for more than a couple minutes. The only time you could be sure he would be silent is when someone was putting.

After one hole he was walking from the green to the next tee and I was the only one walking near him. I say "near" because we weren't actually walking together, I was more like following him. Anyway, he was still talking about god knows what. I think he was just talking to hear himself talk. He was aware I was there but I don't think he was actually talking to me. At one tee he was watching Arnold Palmer playing in front of him and he said, again to no one in particuler, "Look at Arnolds caddie, look at how weighed down he looks carrying Arnold's bag. I bet he has 10 lbs of lead tape in his bag!" Then he left out his trade mark laugh.

That day he was playing with Ioki and Ioki was putting and came up about 4 feet short. Trevino then putted and blew the ball about 5 feet past. Trevino started laughing and kept saying to Ioki that there was no way he was going to be short after watching Ioki come up short. Ioki just smiled, I don't think he understands English and just went along.

That was Trevino, nothing seemed to bother him, he always looked like he was really enjoying life. Here are some words of wisdom from the Merry Mex:

1. "You can make a lot of money in this game. Just ask my ex-wives. Both of them are so rich that neither of their husbands work.”

2. “Columbus went around the world in 1492. That isn’t a lot of strokes when you consider the course.”

3. “I’m not saying my golf game went bad, but if I grew tomatoes, they’d come up sliced.”

4. “If you’re caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.”

5. Talking about the 240 yd par three 17th at Merion C.C. "That's the shortest par 4 in US Open history."

6. "You want to know what pressure is, betting $5 on a round of golf when you only have $2 in your pocket."

Golf Times

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I Think Erik and I Can Agree on a Few Things

Erik commented on my last post and there are some points we can agree on. Here's his comment:

"No, we don't agree, because there are simply too many other variables to consider. Tempo, how much wrist hinge and "lag" a swing employs, etc. The list is huge and you can't lump it in with "all other things being equal" because that's 100 other things... it's a cop-out. The original post was silly in how simple it was, and misleading at best.

Though a taller golfer needs less angular velocity to reach clubhead velocity of 120 MPH, the weight of his arms more than counters this. "All things being equal," the taller golfer has to do more "work" to reach 120 MPH. I'm using the classic definition of work: energy expended. Not whether it feels like it's harder to do or not.

Furthermore, CoR and shaft flex do matter because a swing that's still accelerating when it reaches 120 MPH versus a swing that's slightly decelerating at impact will behave differently with the same CoR and shaft flex.

Again, the initial post and even this one are far too simple. It's misleading. There are a lot more things to golf than the speed of a clubhead at impact, regardless of how tall the people that swung them are.

It was a "dumb" post because it "dumbed" the golf swing down to a level beyond silly. "

I whole heartedly agree that without everything being equal a whole slew of variables come into play. No doubt about it.

I can also say that the question was unrealistic because they weren't taking into consideration all of those variables.

I can also agree that there is a slight difference between the clubhead accelerating to 120 when it impacts the ball as opposed to decelerating because the ball stays on the clubface for a short amount of time allowing the clubhead to continue to act on the ball for a brief amount of time. If the clubhead is accelerating it will send the ball a little farther than if it was declerating.

I also agree that there are alot more things involved than just clubhead speed at impact. For instance if you have a cheap set of clubs that aren't fitted for you, you would have a hard time out driving someone with a good, fitted set no matter how tall you are.

I even accept your explanation that it dumbed down the golf swing. Yes it did remove all the variables you had mentioned and therefore could be considered a dumbed down version of a very complex swing.

There is one thing we still disagree on. If you took a tall golfer and a short one, had a professional fit them both with the same quality clubs, I still contend the shorter guy will have to swing faster to get to 120 mph. Because of that he would most likely have to expend more jules (the unit used for measurement of energy). I say "most likely" because I really don't know for sure not ever having done an experiment. I'm surprised you seem so sure that because a tall golfer's arms weigh more than a short golfer that he will expend more jules of energy to reach 120 mph. How do you know this?

Lastly, I made the post more for entertainment than to be scrutinized and taken so seriously although for me this conversation has been fun.

Golf Times

Reply to Erik's (of The Sand Trap fame) Comment to my Last Post

Erik over at The Sand Trap made a comment to my last post. Instead of just replying with another comment I decided to post my reply here. Oh and at his golf forum he also started a thread using the same comment but there he said my post was dumb. Erik, if I didn't know you better I would take that as an insult but since we're brothers in golf I prefer to believe you were just joking.

Here's my reply:

First let me say that I didn't ask that question and Chris Murphy,P.E. answered it but I do agree with his answer. Also, I think the question itself was hardly worth asking because as I alluded to in my post , 120 mph is 120mph no matter how you got there, whether you use acceleration or velocity (is that what you meant by being dumb, Erik?). That is assuming everything else is equal as the person who asked the question stated.

Now, on to your response. Let me respond to the first part (reprinted below):

[I]"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."[/I]

I agree with both parts of this sentence if you assume if everything is equal. It doesn't matter at what rate you accelerate if you arrive at the ball at 120 mph it's 120 mph.

Second part of your response:

"[I]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[/I]."

CoR and shaft flex shouldn't enter into this discussion because the person who asked the question says that everything else besides the person's height was equal so we have to assume these variables were the same.

Next part:

"[I]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.[/I]"

I agree that a taller person has longer arms and that they weigh more but I would disagree that he has to work harder to accelerate to 120 mph. You pretty much make my point in your next paragraph:

"[I]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. [/I]"

A taller golfer naturally creates a longer swing arc and therefore will create a greater centrifugal force than a shorter person which means he would not have to work as hard to get the clubhead to 120 mph than a guy who has a shorter swing arc. Don't foget that everything else is equal according to the original question.

You then made an additional statement in yor forum response that you didn't make in your comment to my post:

"[I]I should have said the shorter person actually has to accelerate more quickly... since he has less distance through which to achieve the speed. Though that's only if players swing at the same tempo...[/I]"

This statement further validates my statement that the shorter guy has to work harder to accelerate his club to achieve the same impact speed as the taller golfer.

Did this make any sense or are we still standing on the opposite sides of the fence and can we all be friends?

Golf Times

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

Monday, February 13, 2006

Those Lucky SOBs at Pebble Beach!

While the pro's and celebs yucked it up at Pebble this weekend you know what I was doing, wrestling with the ready for the scrap heap, rusted, crumbling to the touch and porous conduit that masquerades as the plumbing under my kitchen sink.

I started out trying to replace the original offending piece. In order to do that I had to take some other pieces off. It was at this time that the trap piece took the opportunity to crack completely in half. The original leaking piece was the one going into the floor and was soldered to the copper pipe leading underneath the floor. I was affraid of lighting my house on fire by trying to loosen the weld with the torch so I tried to hacksaw the piece off - bad idea. It was still welded in there but now I had no pipe to work with. I eventually got it out by torching it from the inside of the pipe and prying it out. After replacing that piece and the trap piece I put everything back together and it worked without leaking...for a little while until a 90 degree piece decided to crack and leak - I kid you not.

After replacing that piece the joint where the 90 degree piece goes into another 90 (please don't ask why I have two 90's, I just do) leaked. I finally had to put plumber's putty in the joint to stop the leaking... for now.

All the while they were in the sunshine, the pros and the celebs, millionaires all, who can afford to have a plumber do all the crap I had to do. Oh and did I tell you I live in the NE US where we had a foot of snow this weekend.

See why I say those guys are lucky SOB's.

Golf Times
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