Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

53

An indoor testing range to measure the aerodynamic performance of golf balls

M.V. Zagarola

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA


B. Lieberman, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY, USA

and A.J. Smits

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA

Abstract

The design of an Indoor Testing Range is described. The test range uses a calibrated launching machine to provide a precisely known initial velocity and spin rate. The velocity and arrival time of the ball is then measured at three down range stations, along with the vertical and horizontal position. The data can be used to derive the coefficients in the aerodynamic model of the ball. The model may then be used in a trajectory program to predict the total carry.

Keywords: Golf Ball, Aerodynamics.


1 Introduction

In flight, a golf ball experiences lift and drag forces, where its lift is derived from its spin by the Magnus effect and its drag is caused in large part by the formation of a wake with a significant momentum deficit. As the ball moves along its trajectory, its spin rate decreases with time, which affects the lift and the drag. The aerodynamic characteristics of the ball must be known precisely in order to predict the trajectory accurately. Specifically, we need to know how the lift and drag coefficients, and the spin rate decay, depend on the spin rate and the Reynolds number.

Outdoor range tests employing hitting machines, routinely used for conformance testing, have a limited utility in this regard. With some care the initial conditions (launch angle, initial spin rate and ball velocity) can be measured accurately, but in-flight trajectory measurements are difficult, and usually limited to features such as the maximum height of the trajectory, distance to impact, etc. The precise trajectory, as in position versus time, is difficult to obtain, although some limited measurements are now available (see, for example, Chikaraishi et al. 1990). The limitations of range tests mean that it is difficult to obtain information regarding the basic aerodynamic characteristics of the golf ball, that is, lift and drag coefficients, and the rate of spin decay.

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-348-

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