Did you know that hitting a quality drive on the golf course takes more than just strength and coordination, it also requires some physics? This year the team at local development company Midlands Science has decided to do something very different for their annual science festival and delve deep into the science behind one of the most popular sporting games in the world. This key evening public event for Offaly is all about the science of golf. It takes place in the Esker Hills Golf Club in Ballinamere on the evening of November 13th.
The keynote speaker, Ian Kenny has a BSc in Sport Sciences and PhD in Biomechanics from Ulster University and is now a senior lecturer in biomechanics at the University of Limerick. It may surprise people to find out that golf is a game that has more interesting physics than any other. There is the aerodynamics of a golf ball in flight, the fundamentals of striking the ball, the generation of spin, and a formula for sending the ball in intentionally curved paths, such as deliberate hooks and slices.
Ian commented: ‘A good example of a really useful scientific input is club fitting. After a golfer learns the swing basics and plays the game for a while, club fitting by a club coach or pro will assess swing characteristics such as swing speed and ball rotation speed, and match a club type to your own swing and ball speed. The coach will normally use Doppler radar technology within a launch monitor to assess those characteristics. A slower swing should be matched with a more flexible club shaft, giving a little more club head speed to the shot while maintaining control. The aim here is to help golfers enjoy the game by hitting well and consistently, rather than play with clubs not suited to them.’
Director of the Midlands Science Festival, Jackie Gorman said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Dr Ian Kenny of the University of Limerick [UL] to Esker Hills Golf Club to explore the science of golf during Science Week 2018. This free event for Science Week is bound to be of interest to golfers of all ages and ability and we have many other fun, informative and innovative events throughout the week so do check out our events page on www.midlandsscience.ie for more details.’
Ian continued: ‘Seamless integration of science and technology into our lives is welcome, but a little understanding of what goes into product development for either performance or health and safety reasons is a good thing for everyone, and especially for the school-age generation it will aid inquisition and interest for future product, health or computing developments. I am really looking forward to coming to the Midlands this November to explore the science of golf and look forward to some discussion and questions on the night.’