Golf is a Game of Opposites: Golf is Work (Lesson 4, Part 3)

You don’t think this is work? Read on….

In this post, we will discuss some very basic physics.  Do not be afraid.  It is to make a very simple but completely under-appreciated point.  It has consequences.  Here, we will just emphasize the simple point.

About this site: Golf As God Gave It To Us

Jerome Bettis After a Round With Tiger Woods

Reporter:  What did you think of Tiger’s swing?

Bettis:  I don’t know.  He was always moving too fast for me to see it.

Have you hit a 100 golf balls on the driving range and felt tired and sweaty afterwards, on a day on which the temperature was 75 degrees?  Or gone out to play a round of golf on a nice day and felt worn out afterward?

You were.

John Daly at impact

I recall in college a woman in my class talking about how golf is not a sport.  At the time, I had some sympathy.  How can hitting a little ball around a golf course be tough?  Sure it requires some coordination and skill, but so does bridge or bocce ball.

I just can’t agree that bocce ball is a sport.  Yes, yes, I know that the Winter Olympics now has shuffleboard curling as a medal “sport.” If it is, so are marbles and hopscotch. In the back of my mind, I had to agree with the spirit of what she said, I thought to myself – though I never would have acknowledged it – barely to myself if at all.

“Not so fast my friend.”

No, I am not trying to get into an argument about the meaning of the word “sport.”  Rather there is an important fact to know.  A similar fact would apply to tennis but is harder to figure out.  Ever hear those guys at Wilbedon grunting on their serves?  There is a reason for it.  A very good reason.


We have a kind of notion of “work.”  That’s “real work,” we might say.

Whatever qualifies as a “sport,” bocce ball is not one

Often it involves manual labor.  Usually we think of it as involving the expenditure of energy.  It turns out that that is in fact true.  Physicists have a definition for work.  Work, in physics, equals the force applied times the distance over which it is applied.

Yes … badmitton is an Olympic….event.

W = F x d

is how it is written.

This, it turns out, has a complete and perfect reflection of our perception of effort.  There is no gap.

How does this relate to golf?

Well, it turns out very easily.

A golf ball is 2 ounces, roughly.  If turns out that moving that ball 240 yards requires the same energy as moving a 30 pound weight 1 yard.  That’s right.  If you hit the ball, you’d better be putting as much energy into your swing as you would in moving a 30 pound weight 1 yard.

Arnold Palmer

You say you want to hit it like Tiger?  If you hit the ball 300 yards, you may as well throw a 38 pound weight a yard.

Ever try to shot put?  I doubt many people think of hitting a golf ball 300 yards as the same as shot-putting 38 pounds 1 yard.  But it is.  In fact, because of the drag of air on the ball, this is probably a generous comparison.

You hit 100 golf balls, with the energy needed to drive it 240 yards.  That is like moving a 30 pound weight back and forth over a yard’s distance, 100 times.  Do it in an hour because you hit balls in practice quickly?  That’s a lot of work … No joke.

Why does it look like Nicklaus has swung so hard? Because he has . . . it requires a lot of force to move a golf ball a few hundred yards.


Rather than get into the weeds, just remember … if you are going to move a ball a long way, you have to put a lot of effort into it and had better feel like you have hit the ball solid and transmitted a lot of energy (or put a large amount of work into it at impact).  You should think of the strike of the ball as much more like hitting a home run in baseball or softball, at the moment of impact, than taking a wack in badmitton (also an Olympic sport somehow).


Very true.

Something to think about.

When does 2 ounces times 240 yards = 30 pounds times 1 yard?

Always.  Always.

Isaac Newton

I. Newton

© 2012

This entry was posted in Ball Flight, Conservation of Momentum, Gravity and Golf, Strength, The Mechanics of Golf. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Golf is a Game of Opposites: Golf is Work (Lesson 4, Part 3)

  1. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » GOLF AND PRIORITIES: New Yorkers Still In The Dark As Obama Hits The Links. “Imagine the howls if …

Comments are closed.