Engineering A Golf Swing

Posted on November 6, 2008  Comments (4)

Golf secret not all in the wrists

After decades of research, the world may be closer to the perfect golf swing. University of Surrey engineer Robin Sharp has found the key is not in using full power from the start, but by building up to it quickly.

Surprisingly, the wrists don’t play a critical role in the swing’s outcome, according to the new model. The analysis also shows that while bigger golfers might hit further, it’s not by much. Any golfer will tell you that the idea of swinging harder to hit farther is not as straightforward as it might seem; the new results indicate that how – and when – the power develops is the key to distance.

Prof Sharp used a computer model first to fit to the swing styles of three professionals whose swings were measured with high-speed photography in 1968: Bernard Hunt, Geoffrey Hunt and Guy Wolstenholme.

The model showed that the club-head speed, and thus drive distance, of these professionals could have been improved by increasing the torque quickly to the maximum value and maintaining it throughout the rest of the swing. It’s a delicate balance, however, and Sunday duffers may find it hard to implement Prof Sharp’s prescription.

The application of science to sports is an interesting area. Previous posts: Science of the High JumpSports Engineering @ MITPhysicist Swimming RevolutionBaseball Pitch Designed in the Lab

4 Responses to “Engineering A Golf Swing”

  1. Nick
    November 13th, 2008 @ 10:19 am

    Many of the top professionals today show a great example of this type of golf swing. They allow their upper body to slowly torque on the backswing and then they unwind quickly building up to extremely fast clubhead speed by the time the clubface reaches the golf ball. They try and keep the wrists out of the swing as much as possible. They uncoil like a spring that has been twisted.

  2. Anonymous
    November 21st, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

    It really is true among the PGA pros. Not all of those guys are 6’4″, but they create so much lag and torque in their swings, that even the smaller guys average close to 290. That lag is the difference between professional swings and us amateur golfers.

  3. john batten
    March 2nd, 2009 @ 1:13 am

    Ben Hogan new this in 1957. It is explained in his Modern Fundementals of Golf – The Second part of the Swing. He explains how it is necessary to supinate the left wrist while holding it in a special set position relative to the arms through impact and beyond. To do this with speed and firmness one has of course to supinate the forearms through impact while the wrists hold onto their set position. Clubhead speed (distance) mainly comes from the downswinging and the supination of the arms. Direction control mainly comes from the setup, downswing path and firmly set wrists through impact.

  4. Sharon
    December 3rd, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

    Makes a lot of sense from a physics perspective. From a stopping position, it’s harder to generate a maximum amount of force than it is while using the natural momentum of a weighted driver. I agree that it’s definitely not in the wrists anymore… I like the aforementioned spring analogy.

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