The Factors of Ball Flight

Topics: Golf, Golf ball, Curve Pages: 11 (2897 words) Published: October 25, 2012
The factors of ball flight

“If it goes right, it's a slice if it goes left, it's a hook, if it goes straight, it's a miracle!”

Bob Hope (1903-2003),
American broadcaster and entertainer

At some stage during every round of golf a player can hit a multitude of shots each having a variety in the flight and shot shape it takes. Indeed many golfers possess the ability to perform a specific shot shape consistently yet do not fully understand how they actually do so. Much of our understanding of how to manipulate the flight of the golf ball was shrouded in mystery until the early sixties when Sir Aynsley Bridgland commissioned a team of researchers under the leadership of Alistair Cochran and John Stobbs to try and unearth the secret to the game of golf. After five years of pure research the end result was certainly not what he had wished for-the secrets were that there was none, there was no such thing as the perfect swing. The work done by physicist Alistair Cochran was certainly not in vain though. In fact the findings he and his team unearthed went on to completely change how the golf professional thought about teaching the golf swing. What they discovered was that there was no secret to producing the perfect swing because it simply did not exist. There were many good, bad and indifferent swings being used but if they followed the basic laws and principles they proposed that the results would be basically the same. In this assignment we will look at many of the principles Cochran arrived at and utilize them to explain the effect a non square impact has on a golf shot. We will analyze the two of the three possible impact positions-open and closed impact positions, and how coupled with an out to in swing path can result in a variety of shots. We will also analyse how loft plays a role in effecting the degree to which shape, trajectory and distance these resulting shots go.

For this assignment we will assume that the golfer is right handed, using a 5 iron of a flat hitting surface and striking the ball in the centre of the clubface.

Ball flight laws

Before we look at a specific type of swing path it is important to have a basic grasp of the ball flight laws as the primary focus of this piece will be the impact factors. These are entirely based on what the club head is doing at the moment it strikes the ball, known as impact. There are five impact factors, these are as follows:

➢ Swing Path,
➢ Club head Speed,
➢ Angle of Approach
➢ Clubface Aim
➢ Centeredness of Strike

The following table explains each law in more detail

|Law |Characteristics | |Speed |The velocity with which the club head is travelling at | | |impact. Club head Speed effects how far the ball goes, | | |as well as the trajectory and shape of the resulting | | |shot. | |Centeredness |The exactness with which the ball makes contact on the | | |face of the club relative to the "sweet spot." Contact | | |could be either on the centre, toe, and heel, above or | | |below the "sweet spot." | |Path | The direction of the arc travelled by the club head in| | |the backswing and downswing. Its line of travel at | | |impact is one of the primary factors influencing | | |direction for a full shot | | | The degree at which the leading edge of the clubface | |Face |is at right angles to the swing path. It determines the| | |accuracy of the ball's flight along that line, or | | |produces a left or right curve away...
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