crack­ing the code of equip­ment’s most en­dur­ing ur­ban leg­ends

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Matthew Rudy

Crack­ing the code of equip­ment’s most en­dur­ing ur­ban leg­ends.

The 19th hole is a play­ground filled with leg­ends, tall tales and myths about equip­ment, from the ba­sic (Is the ball I found in the wa­ter haz­ard still good?) to the pro­saic (What hap­pens if I put Vase­line on the face of my driver?). We asked var­i­ous ex­perts to ad­dress some of the most in­ter­est­ing and en­dur­ing. Con­sider your myths busted. how long will a golf ball last if i don’t lose it?

1Most balls don’t stick around long enough for it to mat­ter, but what would hap­pen if you played with the same one for 10 rounds? Would the scuffs and hun­dreds of whacks make it per­form worse? Dean Snell, a former golf-ball de­signer at Titleist and Tay­lor-Made who now runs Snell Golf, says you’d have to hit a pre­mium ball at least 100 times with a driver – at tour-level swing speeds – to see any cover crack­ing. Most balls, he says, will sur­vive more than 250 hits be­fore any de­te­ri­o­ra­tion. Scuffs aren’t even a big deal if they haven’t chopped up the dim­ples. Tem­per­a­ture and wa­ter are big­ger en­e­mies. Be­low freez­ing and above 380C, the poly­mers that make up the var­i­ous lay­ers stiffen or soften, both of which im­pact ball speed and spin rate. Play­ing balls you find in the wa­ter isn’t a great idea, ei­ther: “Wa­ter can seep into the core, and that costs you dis­tance and speed,” Snell says. “Ve­loc­ity slows af­ter 48 hours in the wa­ter, but the ball re­ally loses speed af­ter two to three weeks in the wa­ter.” The per­fect con­di­tions for ball per­for­mance? A dry cli­mate with a tem­per­a­ture of about 210C. how does the heat/ cold/al­ti­tude af­fect my dis­tance?

2If you aren’t play­ing on a calm, 21-de­gree day, you’re prob­a­bly los­ing or gain­ing some­thing from your “stock” distances.The staff at Track Man have used their radar sys­tem to mea­sure thou­sands of shots in var­i­ous con­di­tions. Tem­per­a­ture plays more tricks on your game than you think.The av­er­age 6-iron trav­els seven more me­tres in 380C weather than it does at 5C. As for al­ti­tude, play­ers with av­er­age swing speeds see about a 6-per­cent gain at 1 500 me­tres – a bit less with lower-tra­jec­tory clubs like a fair­way wood or hy­brid. Which means you should pretty much take one less club in Gaut­eng, which is 1 900 me­tres above sea level. do clubs wear out?

3Un­less you’re a tour player hit­ting thou­sands of balls in the same spot on your iron faces, ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy will oc­cur be­fore the av­er­age player can beat most clubs into sub­mis­sion. “If you’re play­ing with stain­less-steel cast irons, it’ll take for­ever to wear those faces out,” says Kirk Oguri, a Golf Di­gest 100 Best Club­fit­ter. “Metal-woods can crack in rare cases, but they don’t wear out or weaken.” Two places you might see de­te­ri­o­ra­tion are in your shafts and wedges. “Steel shafts can bend over time from heavy use, es­pe­cially when hit­ting off mats,” Oguri says. “And prac­tis­ing a lot with your wedges will wear out the grooves. You’ll want to re­place those ev­ery two years.” One more thing: Cold weather won’t hurt your clubs, but ex­ces­sive heat – like in your boot dur­ing the sum­mer – can weaken the epoxy hold­ing the heads and shafts to­gether. how do range balls com­pare to the balls i typ­i­cally play?

4You just made a ca­reer swing with your 7-iron and car­ried the 150 sign at the range. How proud should you be? Well, it de­pends on which ball you picked from the bucket. In a 2014 test, we sam­pled 20 balls from dif­fer­ent ranges and com­pared them to a batch of Titleist ProV1s us­ing a swing ro­bot.At an av­er­age am­a­teur’s 7-iron swing speed of 130 kilo­me­tres per hour, the Pro V1s flew 134 to 139 me­tres.The range balls had a much greater dis­tance vari­ance – 127 to 153.The moral of the story? Us­ing range balls to cal­i­brate your distances is a bad idea. how much dis­tance am i los­ing when i miss the cen­tre of the face?

5Mil­lions of lessons have been given about how to in­crease club­head speed, but fo­cus­ing on speed ig­nores a gi­gan­tic piece of the dis­tance puz­zle: hit­ting the sweet spot.We asked golf sci­en­tist (and re­tired Bell Labs en­gi­neer) Dave Tu­tel-man to cal­cu­late the im­pact of off-cen­tre hits. His an­swer hinges on “smash fac­tor” – the ball’s rel­a­tive per­for­mance, depend­ing on where on the face you’ve hit it. A tour player hits the sweet spot a lot, and his smash fac­tor (ball speed di­vided by club­head speed) ap­proaches 1.48, but a 20-hand­i­cap makes con­tact all over the face – and is usu­ally un­der 1.30. If that 20-hand­i­cap swings the driver 160 kph, that 1.30 smash fac­tor could cost him or her up to 35 me­tres. An­other way to look at it: Hit­ting the sweet spot is the equiv­a­lent of gain­ing nearly 20 kph of club­head speed. does the old vase­line-on-the-driver trick re­ally work?

6Short an­swer? Yes. Any kind of grease on the face (Vase­line, sun­screen, Chap-Stick, etc.) will re­duce the sidespin you cre­ate with a bad swing – which means the ball won’t curve as much.You also lose back­spin, which can help or hurt depend­ing on your launch char­ac­ter­is­tics. It’s also su­per il­le­gal to do it, so keep your pe­tro­leum prod­ucts to your­self.

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