When you first picked up a golf club, you probably never thought that having a Ph.D. in physics would help your game. Golf is a game of mathematics, physics and metallurgy. Properties of a golf club, like flex and frequency, can be defined by specific equations. These characteristics influence the distance and direction of the ball’s trajectory. But don't let all that technical talk put you off. When choosing the club, you are actually picking the correct physical characteristics for an optimal swing -- no advanced degrees needed, though.
The shaft of the golf club is the part between the handle and the club head. It has more importance then you might think. The length of the shaft combined with your muscles is how you create energy to drive the ball down the fairway. Within your muscles you store potential energy. The shaft allows you to multiply this potential energy and convert it into kinetic energy, or energy of motion. That energy is transferred to the ball when you make contact. The more energy you transfer, the farther the ball travels -- and the more bragging rights you earn on the greens.
Energy And Flex
Some things absorb energy; the more that is absorbed, the less that is transferred. The flex of the shaft is one of the places where energy can be absorbed. Flex is the rigidity of the shaft. Greater flex means that the club is absorbing your energy. In the advent of golf, the shaft was made of wood. Wood is actually a fairly rigid substance. If you apply too much force, the shaft will break instead of bending. By the 1980s, manufacturers moved to other materials like steel and titanium. In the 21st century, special composites are used to make golf clubs with varying flex features that will not break under force. That's good news for your golf swing and your wallet.
Giving Energy Back
Having the club absorbing energy is not bad if you can get it back. This is where frequency comes into play. Frequency is the vibrational quality of the club. Imagine a tuning fork. You hit its edge and the energy moves the tines back and forth. In a frictionless environment, the energy would be stored in the moving tuning fork. If you touch it, you'll feel the tingle as it gives back the energy to your hand. The frequency of the golf club shaft does the same thing. It stores energy on the back and down strokes and releases it to the ball on contact.
Putting It Together
Physicist Ted Jorgensen, author of "The Physics Of Golf," calculated that it takes 32 pounds of muscle to generate the two horsepower of energy that is in a golf swing. This muscular energy is delivered through the golf club. It is all one system. If you have a tendency to bend your wrist, then a club with less flex may be in order since you are creating frequency by bending your joints. If you maintain a rigid stance, then let the flex and frequency of the club do the work for you.
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