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Golf Science: USGA Golf Club Rules

Golf Science: USGA Golf Club Rules

Golf Science: USGA Golf Club Rules

The Science of Golf Series: Volume, Displacement and Buoyancy Limits

NBC and the USGA work together to explain the physics behind myriad decisions that go into determining various golf club limits for clubheads, such as volume here, and its impact on performance.

For instance, ever wonder the 460 means on a clubhead, like the TaylorMade SLDR drivers, really means? It indicates the clubhead size in volume measured in cubic centimeters or cc’s displaced, such as when it’s put in water, according to an ancient equation. That figure also equals 28.1 cubic inches, which is the amount of space it occupies. Since clubheads are odd shapes, the USGA still uses a mathematical equation created more than 2,000 years ago by a naked guy who coined a very famous catchphrase. 

The Greek physicist, philosopher and mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse  supposed ran into the streets naked yelling "Eureka!" after discovering the theory of displacement measurement in the bathtub.

The Greek physicist, philosopher and mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse supposed ran into the streets naked yelling “Eureka!” after discovering the theory of volume displacement measurement in the bathtub.

The Archimedes Principle.

The Archimedes Principle.

This is the displacement equation needed for figuring out conforming golf clubhead size -- since they have an odd shape. It's mass divided by volume.

This is the displacement equation is used for uniformly figuring out conforming golf clubhead size — since they have an odd shape. It’s mass divided by volume equals density.

By these same principles and practices the USGA sets buoyancy and volume limits on clubheads. It’s an extremely simple formula since water has a density of 1 gram per centimeter. Well, easy for the scientists to say, I guess.

But why does it matter? The USGA is trying to keep uniform the moment of inertia (MOI) or how that volume is manifested in the distribution of weight when a clubhead strikes a golf ball. That’s a clubhead’s ability to resist rotational force, without which essentially would create more miss-hits or bad shots. In other words, more volume means more area for the resistance of a golf ball to be dispersed when contact is made, making for better, cleaner, straighter and farther strikes — even if you hit it off-center. 

And there’s a lot more work that goes into this stuff! Stay YouTuned in to 2nd Swing. 


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