Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Physics Behind Hitting a Golf Ball Far

Last week I was hitting golf balls at the driving range and wanted to learn how to hit the ball farther. After doing some research, I came up Jamie Sadlowski. Jamie Sadlowski won back-to-back World Long Drive Championships in 2008 and 2009. Unlike the typical long driver competitor, Jamie is only 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs a mere 168 pounds. Many golf professionals suggest that Jamie’s power stems from his background in junior ice hockey and ability to generate a massive degree of torque with his hips and shoulders. Sadlowski farthest drive is 445 yards, an impressive distance considering the average PGA tour drive is only around 288 yards. Not only is Jamie able to hit the ball so far because of his physical capabilities, but also his equipment.

Although a multitude of factors go into a driver built for long drive competition, one of the contributing factors is the long length of the driver shaft. Jamie Sadlowski uses a 48 inch (1.2192m) driver for long drive competitions. This makes reaching over 150 mph swing speeds slightly less difficult than with a standard driver, which is only about 45 inches (1.143m) in length. Using the equations for angular velocity, one is able to determine the clubhead speed that a long drive competitor, like Jamie Sadlowski, gains by using a longer driver shaft.
Assuming Jamie Sadlowski swings has a club head speed of 150 mph (67.056 m/s) and the golf club is swung in a circular arc, his angular club head speed would be:

Assuming the angular velocity of Sadlowski’s club head remains equal with the 45 inch driver, one can calculate how much translational club head speed Sadlowski would lose using a PGA tour driver.

Therefore, Jamie Sadlowski gains about 10 mph on his clubhead speed by using a 48 inch driver instead of the standard PGA tour length 45 inch driver. Looks like I need to buy a longer driver!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG-PkLfWLRY (Video from 2014 World Long Drive Championship)

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