“Golf is not just a game of great shots. It’s a game of bad shots too. The champions are the ones who hit the fewest bad shots and who are smart enough to keep their bad shots from being terrible.” – LPGA Hall of Famer, Annika Sorenstam.
Callaway R&D has made it a focus to understand the missed shot tendencies of different golfers. The images below share a representation of the impact location of five shots hit using a 7 iron from varying skill levels. As you would expect, lesser skilled golfers are more inconsistent, but note that even professionals and very skilled amateurs are not hitting in the center of the clubface every time. Everyone miss hits shots!
Within Callaway’s R&D department, we continuously strive to manage and improve a golfer’s miss hit shots. Over the years, we have seen many design features within golf clubs to make them more forgiving. In drivers and irons, the use of new materials and body shapes increase the moment of inertia (MOI) to reduce dispersion. We see this trend in high MOI putters as well with more unique shapes and the strategic placement of heavy and lightweight materials. Golf clubs are known to have forgiveness benefits, but your golf ball, by design, can be forgiving too, most notably in the softer compression Chrome Soft!
What Happens at Impact
The most accurate modeling of golf club to ball impact physics is incredibly complex. Even more so when considering the collision of the club hitting the ball is roughly 0.00045 seconds or 450 microseconds. Variables such as the loft and attack angle of the club, inexact friction between the clubface and the ball, and unique ball constructions make modeling the collision scenario challenging.
The collision of the club to ball during an off-center hit can be characterized as an eccentric impact. This means that the club is moving along a path that is different from the line between the center of mass of the ball and the center of mass of the club. This impact causes rotation of the clubface and will create vibration through the club. When the impact is farther from the center of gravity of the club, the face rotation and vibration increase and can be excessive. The face rotation negatively affects the direction of the shot, while the excessive vibration of the club negatively affects the ballspeed.
What our research has shown, and what our experimental analysis has supported, is that a softer compression golf ball will reduce the amount of vibration during off-center hits and produce better ball speed than firmer golf balls, resulting in more distance.
Callaway R&D lab robot testing has shown the softer compression Chrome Soft golf balls do a better job of maintaining ballspeed and distance when shots are not struck in the center of the clubface. In the testing example below, the off-center shots were struck by a robot 1/4 of an inch lower than center. Keep in mind many amateurs are hitting shots sometimes two and three times farther off-center than this. We measured the ballspeed of Chrome Soft to be closer to shots hit in the center of the face compared to some other leading competitors, thus making the ball go closer to your expected “center shot” distance.
Applied on the Golf Course
While Chrome Soft golf balls are popular for their tremendous soft feel and distance, there is also a forgiveness benefit rooted in physics that improves the speed and distance of off-center shots. For those that believe golf is a game of misses, you can be more at ease that your “less solid” shots will still carry the bunker or water in front of the green. Chrome Soft feels great and is a more forgiving golf ball.
About the Author:
In the golf industry, Nick has seven years of Golf Ball R&D experience developing golf balls and working with several top professionals along with six years of experience at a 36-hole public course. Academically, he graduated with a BSME from Ohio Northern University while playing NCAA Division III golf; followed by a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio State University.
Haven’t Had Enough? Read on More Chrome Soft Whitepapers
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- Aerodynamic Benefits of Seamless Molding in a Golf Ball’s Cover by Grady Crahan