A scientific approach.jpg

A scientific approach

Over the next three articles I will take a slightly different approach to our play golf series, this is in response to the many requests that I have had asking for information on how to hit the ball further.

Visit any driving range and watch the wide variety of swings on view, it is easy to understand that each player has his or her own unique movement. Size, weight, strength, flexibility and past or present injuries all contribute to the way in which an individual uses their body to produce a movement designed to swing the golf club at speed in order to transfer energy into a stationary object, namely the golf ball and propel it in the desired direction. Technique, therefore, can never be standardised and models can only be used as a desirable pattern, which may or may not be suitable to the student.

In my role as a coach, I have seen literally thousands of different movements, each with idiosyncrasies, some of which make the swing work well and others which inhibit the player. In all cases, the principles which I am about to define and explain are laws that affect the human body and the manner in which the club returns to meet the ball. It is my opinion that this article is based on a technical theory paper, showing the results of an action made by the body.

“An influence tending to change the motion of a body or to produce motion or stress in a stationary body”1.  

There are different types of force that are inherent to the process of striking a golf ball and causing it to fly.

There is a force, which is produced by a player’s muscles, in order to generate and then deliver speed into the movement of the club.

It is common that, in certain cases, physically strong individuals may not hit the ball as far as some physically weaker players. The reason that this situation exists is that physical strength in isolation has little to do with the force that can be generated and delivered to the club by any individual. The formula for Force is as follows:

Force = Mass x Acceleration

Imagine that we went to the World’s Strongest Man contest and viewed all eight competitors. Clearly, all these men would be physically very strong, but could they all hit the golf ball great distances? Certainly they would be able to move the club mass easily, but the acceleration generated through the muscles may be slow, whereas a physically weaker person may not be able to move the mass as easily, but may gain as a result of faster acceleration. The ideal situation is when a physically strong individual is able to generate and deliver fast acceleration.

There is a force that is applied to the ball from a moving club. When a force is applied to an object it will either:

• Change the speed of the object.

• Change the direction of movement of an object.

• Change the size or shape of an object.

So, when the club head is swinging and makes contact with the ball, assuming that a suitable angle of attack is applied, the ball will change shape, accelerate from the ground or tee and initially take on the same direction that the club head was travelling at the point of impact.

There is a force that causes the ball to reduce its speed and drop from its flight.

There is little within the limits of the rules of golf that one can do about the effect of gravity on the golf ball. The effect of altitude, however, may have a minor effect on “hang time”, with the ball having the potential to remain in the air longer at higher altitudes as a result of less air resistance.  

In order to maintain a stationary position, there must be a balance of forces, take the example of the force of gravity, this pulls downwards, which causes a reaction force, which is that of the surface pushing back up, while any horizontal forces present must be opposite and equal. Whenever pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, twisting, stretching or squeezing a force is being exerted.

Next article: Power                                            

Credits:  1. Oxford English Dictionary 10th edition Oxford University Press 2002

GOLF is written by Tony Bennett the head coach of Bennett’s Golf Learning Centres (BGLC), with centres located in Alto Golf, Alvor, Quinta da Ria, Tavira. Montado, Palmela and Santa da Serra, Madeira. For more information, advice on a specific point or general enquiry please e-mail [email protected], call 932 524 253 or visit www.tonybennettgolf.com. If you would like to subscribe to our monthly newsletter e-mail [email protected].