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Essay on Physics of Golf

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Golf is one of the toughest sports there is. The entire goal of the game is to get a very small ball into a cup that is several hundred yards away. What most people may not realize is that physics plays a role in just about every aspect of trying to get the ball into that cup. Every part of the game, from the tee-off until the ball drops into the cup, is affected by physics in one way or another. The purpose of this web page is to introduce you to the role that physics plays in the game of golf.
Many people would argue that the ball is the single most important part of the game of golf. It's design and make-up determine its behavior in all phases of the game. The golf ball has evolved much over the years. Physics is largely responsible for this evolution, and the very existence of the golf ball as we know it today.
Have you ever wandered why there are dimples on golf balls? It turns out that they have dimples for more than cosmetic purposes. The original golf balls were actually made out of smooth horsehide. Golfers discovered that the balls that were scarred up seemed to travel further, so they preferred using the old balls to new ones. Eventually golf balls were made with the dimples to simulate the scarring of the old balls. While early golfers may not have realized it, their observation can be proven legitimate by using principles of physics. The scars, or now dimples, actually create turbulence as the air passes over the ball. This in effect reduces the drag on the ball, allowing it to travel further. Amazingly a dimpled ball will travel about twice as far as a smooth ball!
The materials used to make golf balls are also very important to their performance. The early golf balls wer...


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...more detail on the tee-ing off page.
When putting, the ball never leaves the ground. Because of this a golfer has many different factors to take into consideration when they are deciding how much force to exert on the ball. The friction between the ball and the grass is a huge factor. The ball encounters friction every inch on its way to the cup. The golfer has to apply enough force to compensate for the loss of momentum caused by the grass.
If this weren't enough, the landscape of the green has to be taken into consideration as well. There are all kinds of hills and valleys on a green. Gravity causes the ball to slow down going up the hills, and to speed up going down the hills. If a golfer fails to take this into consideration they will either not make it to the cup, or will overshoot it. Either can prove disasterous in a close game of golf.


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