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

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

54

Changes in golf ball performance over the last 25 years

S. Aoyama

Titleist and Foot-Joy Worldwide, Fairhaven, Massachusetts, USA

Abstract

A golf ball popular on the professional tours around 1970 is replicated using similar and actual materials, methods and tooling. Objective techniques such as wind tunnel testing, computer simulated trajectory analysis, and mechanical golfer flight tests are used to compare its distance and slicing characteristics to those of a contemporary tour ball. Commonly held perceptions about the differences are evaluated in light of the findings.

Keywords: Wind Tunnel Testing, Trajectory Analysis, Flight Testing, Flight Performance, Distance, History.


1 Introduction

Twenty-five years ago, the golf balls used by touring pros were very similar to one another. They shared the same kinds of materials, the same wound/balata construction type, and the same 336 octahedron dimple pattern. But in golf, as in other equipment related sports, technology has since taken a front-and-center position in the minds of many participants. New materials, new construction types, and new dimple patterns are now the rule rather than the exception. It is common to hear television commentators, ex-tour players, and senior tour players remark about how this technology has made today's golf ball 20, 40, or even 60 yd longer than the ones from earlier times. It is often said to be straighter as well, forgiving accidental hooks and slices. Adding to these perceptions is the continual presence of advertising claims encouraging such beliefs.

The Rules of Golf have for some time included four golf ball restrictions which, when combined, act to severely restrict the distance a golf ball will fly. By limiting the size to a minimum diameter, the effect is to establish a minimum amount of aerodynamic drag that the ball must generate. The maximum weight and maximum initial velocity rules combine to limit the amount of kinetic energy which is available to overcome that drag. Finally, the Overall Distance Standard places an explicit distance limit on all approved balls when launched under a prescribed set of conditions.

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

-355-

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