USGA Clubhead Speed Report

Maybe I've underestimated the USGA's recent propaganda releases on distance. I was thinking that they would be easily misunderstood by the golfing public and would only increase member apathy. But maybe they're laying the groundwork for something else? If so, they have Titleist biting, with a post on the corporation's website of the latest position paper.

I've only skimmed it (I see equations on page 1, eh), but reader G. Bayley writes:

The paper starts by giving trajectory formulae, but then never uses or references them again. The paper gives references to experiments showing that COR declines with higher swing speed. The largest portion of the paper then replicates this result with five unidentified tour balls. A clear explanation of the previous results would have been enough for me, why replicate an accepted result. Is that doing science? This replication is the first of three results claimed. The second result being that launch angle decreases with increased swing speed. It is totally unclear as to how this came about. The final result claimed was the astounding (satire) result that ball spin rate increases with increasing club speed.

In an appendix, tour driving distance is charted for distance ranges and implicated to agree with the COR result. Since this data has no controls, no reasonable assumption as to what it correlates to can be made and is of little scientific value. Also, the paper claimed that 2000 data was from pros using wound balls, but a graph on the Titleist website would seem to indicate that at the beginning of 2000 27% of the tour players were using the modern ball and by the end of the year 42% were using the modern ball.

The article could stand a little better writing given that it was referenced as the lead item on the USGA home page. For example, I would appreciate it if someone could explain what the following means, "some specification had to be made in how the ball would be positioned on the tee. The tee position was first set at the highest speed in accordance with the ODS" which gives me visions of a tee streaking through space with a ball sitting on it. Perhaps it has no meaning and is just poor writing.

What I would have liked to see was graphs of ball trajectory predicted by the equations that were presented and then ignored, and graphs of ball trajectory as seen in experiments with balls. I would also like to have seen what the model would predict for older balls.