Reader taps into his inner nerd in an effort to bridge golf’s distance divide, but if that doesn’t work, perhaps there is a space-age entrepreneur ready to solve the puzzle for the good of the game
Starting with the ground, the mother of golf-swing energy, and with the help of muscles in the bones from foot to hand, they serve as a series of levers transferring energy from the ground to the golf club to the ball. Like as they may want, the USGA, PGA Tour and R&A cannot, as a practical matter, prevent golfers from appearing as if they just passed through the NFL Combine on their way to the first tee of an 8,000-yard golf course, expecting to embarrass it. Wherein lies the solution to the distance conundrum now facing golf? (“Through thick and thin, they don’t always win,” July 14).
Course design or redesign strikes me as the least likely of potential solutions. As to redesign, there are at least two substantial deterrents: among them, who pays for it, and who wants to look down the throat of a Bethpage Black on a regular basis, save a few. Though the cost of a newly designed course might not be a problem (if that’s what you want to do with your bundle), a redesign also promises to balloon the amount of time it takes to play a round. Nay!
My best guess regarding the controlling by the USGA of carry distances lies in COR, or coefficient of restitution, and the compressibility of the ball. COR describes the maximum percentage of energy in a speeding golf club head that it can transmit to the ball – these days 0.83, or 83 percent, under USGA rules. COR does not relate to a trampoline effect of the clubface, as thought by many; in fact, it is just the opposite. The energy loss in the clubhead results from the deflection of its face caused by the impact with the ball. The ball is, by far, the bigger culprit in energy loss – about 80 percent. The deflection of the ball is a distortion of its shape, which takes a lot of energy that otherwise would go into impelling the ball out and up.
I’ve certainly gotten to the limits of my personal CON, coefficient of nerdness, in the above explanation, so I will stop short of the subjects of spin and loft (Bryson DeChambeau, the PGA Tour’s driving-distance leader, plays a driver with 5.5-degree loft). Needless to say, there is more than a side dish of physics involved here.
Here’s a good place to start: drop the maximum COR in the clubs and increase the compressibility of the balls, and this would apply only to the pros (let us amateurs hang on to our shaky golf egos). Whether this avenue would unduly disadvantage the professional shorter hitters would need to be addressed, as well as ball playability.
Perhaps several combinations of COR and compressibility might be needed, with players having differing drivers' licenses based upon their past updated average drives.
Or, we could have Elon Musk figure out the solution.
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