Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hard Drive

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hard Drive

Article excerpt

FOOTBALL MAY be a game of inches, but golf is becoming a game of gigaflops.

At least that's the message behind the latest high-tech golf innovation, the Mad Mac golf club. The Mad Mac and its predecessor, the T-920, are metal woods born in the heart of a CRAY Y-MP supercomputer, one of the world's most powerful computers.

For those readers who aren't golf buffs, a wood is a club with a large head that is typically used for long shots off the tee or in the fairway. The oxymoron "metal wood" derives from the fact that although traditionally made of wood, woods today can be made of metals.

And for those readers who aren't computer buffs, gigaflops stands for billions of floating point operations - a.k.a. calculations - per second. Any computer that operates at the gigaflops level has an awful lot of number-crunching power.

The Mad Mac golf clubs are the "world's most powerful drivers," says Philip Jones, director of marketing for the company that produced them, the MacGregor Golf Co., in Doraville, Ga.

The Mad Mac, introduced in February, and the Mad Mac oversized wood, introduced in August, send golf balls flying an average of 5 feet a second faster than other leading drivers, Jones said.

"The secret to making these clubs perform is that we paired them with the latest in available technology," Jones said. And that means the CRAY, or at least it did until that venerable machine was superceded recently by the CRAY C90.

Golf club designers from MacGregor worked with computer experts from Cray Research Inc., of Eagan, Minn. Using the CRAY Y-MP and structural analysis techniques, they simulated what happens when the club strikes a golf ball at 100 mph, a bit above the speed of an average swing.

The computer analysis was translated into color images of a golf club and ball that showed where stresses occurred in the club during and after impact. That helped the designers better see how new materials and a larger head react. And that made the possibilities for design improvements more apparent. …

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