February 12 /08
Click on any of the following Newsletter topics or just scroll down the page:
Is Tiger on Track to breaking Nicklaus' Records?
Launch Monitor -- Backspin & Ball Hardness
In Quest of the Longest Ball?--You need spin, too
A Fun Game to Play -- Tombstone
Preparing for Season 2008 -- Alignment, Short Game, Fitness
Tiger's Quest for the Holy Grail -- Nicklaus' Major Record of 18
There sure is a lot of excitement in the golf air about the potential of Tiger winning the Grand Slam, given that he is even talking about the potential. Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18 is already in danger, but will it be sooner than we think. How well is Tiger doing relative to Jack? About the same, or even better? Time has a way of erasing perspective.
Growing up, Jack was my idol. I started playing the game in 1975 when he was still in his prime. I admire Tiger immensely. I decided to do a little research along the lines with which I'm familiar (a math perspective). Here's a graph of Jack and Tiger's major records:
The graph above displays the major championship victories of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The year 2007, in which he was 31 years old, was Tiger's 12th year as a PGA Tour Pro (start in 1996) and he finished one ahead of Jack's pace. Jack's 12th year was 1973. He was 33 years old.
The shapes of the graphs are amazingly similar. Jack had a quicker start in accumulating major victories, but Tiger caught up in 2000/2001. Both had had their droughts at very similar times in their careers.
The question is, will Tiger continue to perform at his career average and continue to win majors at a high rate, or, will his career start to slow as Jack's did.
The black line in the graph represents Tiger's average performance of winning majors; a pace of about 1.2 per year, or 6 per 5 years. If he continues this pace, he'll reach and then surpass Jack's record of 18 during his 16th and 17th seasons (2011 and 2012).
Launch Monitor -- Backspin & Ball Hardness
I've been experimenting with my Vector Launch Monitor in my garage. I'm impressed at how easy it is to use and how it provides so much detailed information about the ball. I hit some 7-irons with a Titleist Pro V1 (multilayered) and a Staff Titanium Distance (hard, 2-piece). The Pro V1 achieved significantly more backspin and had a higher launch angle. I performed the tests in my garage where everything was at 5 degrees Celsius (about 40 F). I'll be warming everything up and will repeat the tests to see how much more ball speed results. I'll let you know in my next newsletter.
You don't need to be an experimenter to own your own launch monitor. They are great feedback tools for practice without being the the range. You can hit ball after ball and get accurate feedback on where the ball would go. In my opinon, the best Launch Monitor out there is Accusport's Vector Pro. Learn more here. I've not got my own and will use it with my research. If you have any ideas of what kind of golf ball research you'd like to learn more about, let me know by email.
If you'd like a less expensive monitor, try the Swing Speed Radar. It will measure your clubhead speed and your ball speed, but doesn't measure launch angle or spin like the Accusport can.
If there is an experiment you'd like me to perform. Let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best when I get a chance.
Quest of the Longest Ball?-- Spin is important, too.
The February issue of GOLF Magazine highlights the testing of 54 different golf balls. They commissioned Golf Labs, an independent test facility in San Diego, CA, to run extensive robot tests using a driver, 8-iron and sand wedge. A state-of-the-art launch monitor, Trackman, was used to measure total distance, spin rate, ball speed and launch angle. Overall, I think the report is excellent except that the graphs are a little mis-leading. This newsletter will focus on
The authors make the classic mistake of making differences in distances look significantly different by using inappropriate scales on the graphs. As an example, they plot bar graphs of the driver distances with 5 Titleist balls: (1) NXT Extreme, (2) NXT Tour, (3) ProV1x, (4) DT SOLO and (5) ProV1 using a graph similar to this graph:
Note that the vertical scale starts at 244 yards and goes up to 260 yards. A difference of even less than a yard is quite noticeable. The difference between Ball 1 and Ball 2 is only about 3 yards, yet it looks huge.
Now, look at the same data in the chart below, except that the vertical scale starts at 0 yards.
The difference in distances between the different balls does not appear that great. GOLF Magazine does mention that the difference in distance between the various balls tested is not that great, "The top 10 balls are separated by 3.7 yards, while the top 20 have a 5.4 yards difference."
There are a few mathematical and scientific reasons for discounting the differences between the balls all together, which would mean that there is no significant difference in distance. The reasons are:
1. There is measuring error in all of the measurements. To measure accurately to the nearest 0.1 yard on a distance of 250 yards requires an extremely accurate measuring tool .
2. Statistically speaking, a difference of 5 yards might not be at all significant because of the fact that the balls tested were only samples. If you were to measure 500 Pro V1 balls, you would find that they all travel different distances. The average distance would be pretty well in the middle of the shortest and longest ball tested. The longest ball might travel over 5 yards farther than the shortest ball. It might be in in comparing different brand balls, you happen to have some of the longest of Brand A and some of the shortest of Brand B. Thus, you would find a difference in their distances, where as on average, they're about the same.
3. Because of varying environmental conditions such as air temperature and wind, golf balls that would travel the same distance under the same environmental conditions would be recorded as travelling different distances.
4. The balls were hit off the "sweet spot" of the club face each time. The average golfer might hit 10 - 20% of shots off the "sweet spot." The difference in distances of each brand of golf ball might be larger or smaller when mis hit (not off the "sweet spot.")
5. Total distance hit with a Driver includes carry and roll. The amount of roll depends on the ground firmness and grass density. A difference of a few yards could easily be due to one ball getting a little extra roll, even though it my have carried the same distance.
Click on the logo to the left for a great selection of balls with great prices.
So, one needs to analyze the distances using statistical tools to determine if any differences in distances are indeed significant, which would mean the Brand A on average flies farther than Brand B. In the past, I have analyzed such data of golf ball distances statistically, first in 1998, then 2003, then 2005 and now in 2007 (although we are now into 2008, the measurements were made in 2007).
My analysis of the GOLF Magazine Study does conclude 3 of the balls to be significantly longer than the others and 1 of the top line balls to be significantly shorter. You can find out what those balls are by purchasing the entire report. Buy
Now for $14.99. In the report, you'll be provided with the following::
which golf balls on the market today are the longest and the shortest. Over 50 of the game's most popular balls were tested in 2007.
about the differences between such balls as Titleist Pro V1, Nike One, Callaway Tour i, Srixon Pro, Top-Flight XL 5000, Pinnacle Platinum, and Noodle + to name a few.
if there's actually a golf ball that's long and also has high spin.
about the different TYPES of golf ball construction.
which type of golf ball is BEST for your game.
how dimples are important to a golf ball. Is there a number of dimples that optimizes distance?
about golf ball compression. Does it really matter?
how temperature and humidity affect distance off the tee.
about used golf balls. Should you play golf balls that you find? Is distance related to the age of the golf ball?
a process to follow to determine the BEST ball for your game.
about golfers' obsession with distance. Do golfers actually hit the ball further today? What changes have occurred in golf ball and club construction?
The other stat that is analyzed in my report is the backspin rate of the balls when it by a Driver, 8-iron and Wedge. Backspin plays a huge roll in short game shots from 100 yards and in. In many cases, the balls that tend to go a little farther have less backspin with the wedge, thus, sacrificing stopping ability around the green.
But, because of new golf ball construction technology, there are balls that don't sacrifice distance and still get great backspin. Their durable and not necessarily expensive.
Find out what balls give the most spin!! Buy
Now for $14.99
I'll have more on backspin in my next newsletter.
Great Game for a Tournament-- Tombstone
Tombstone is one of my favourite Men's Night formats. Every player is given a tombstone (such as a little sign with a stake) and written on it is the score of par plus full or partial handicap. At my club, we use 75% of handicap. If your handicap is 10, 75% would be 7.5. If par for your course is 72, then the number on the tombstone would be 72 + 7.5 = 79.5 which rounds to 80 (one can round up or down).
The player carries the tombstone until he has hit is last shot (the number on the tombstone). In the example above, that would be 80. The tombstone is placed down whereever the 80th shot ends up, as long as it's safe to place it there. If the 80th shot finishes in the hole, the player would write "in the hole" on the tombstone and place it on the green's apron. If the last shot ends on the green but not in the hole, the player writes how far from the hole (paces it off or, if the club is really competitive, use a measuring tape).
It's really neat seeing where all the tombstones end up. There is usually a special prize for the first tombstone. One night, someone from my club put there tombstone down on the 12th hole (pretty bad, eh?). As you near the last few holes, the density of tombstones increases. On the 18th (or 9th if its a nine hole match), there are a few select tombstones. To make it to the 18th, one needs to play well because you need to play better your handicap or better.
Trying to find answers on my website? Here's how.
1. Go to my Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. There's a link to it on my pages from the left hand menu near the top of the page, just below the Search icon. It's called "FAQs." You then click on the graphic icon and you'll be taken to my database page. For your convenience, here it is:
I've answered hundreds of questions over the past 6 years and have created a fairly large database. You can search it out. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, submit a question and I'll answer it.
2. On all of my web pages, there is a search feature in the top left section, right underneath my LOGO. Just place your search keywords in the search box, select "This Site" below it, and then press "Search." What will come up is a Google search of the pages on my site with relevance. You can also search the entire internet by selecting "Web" instead.
Go to my main page now: Home or just check the top left menu of this page.
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