Thanks to reader Steven for this John Davis story on Arizona State researchers using aircraft science to improve golf ball design.
Using some of the most advanced mathematical modeling methods, high-performance computing systems and three-dimensional visualization techniques, the researchers hope to create balls that not only can fly farther and straighter, but might cost less.
Kyle Squires and Dan Stanzione are heading up the project that uses state-of-the-art scientific methods and equipment that only "techies" could understand, but "farther, straighter and cheaper" need no translation for the average golfer.
"The idea is to apply the same principles of airflow around an aircraft to come up with a golf ball that will perform more efficiently," Squires said.
"What I would like to do at some point is show a ball design that would perform the best at the FBR Open, for example, because it would take into account climate, weather, air density and other conditions."
Think of the shopping possibilities!
The project started last fall when Srixon technicians read about studies the ASU engineers were doing on airflow around fighter jets and other aircraft for the U.S. Department of Defense and wondered if it could be applied to golf balls.
Srixon officials were able to view the early test results during the FBR Open at Decision Theater, a state-of-the-art three-dimensional visualization laboratory.
Ping has asked the researchers to do similar studies on golf clubs, particularly large-headed drivers, and determine if certain designs will cut through the air more effectively and allow for faster club-head speed.
Davis lists the possible "benefits" of this vital, life changing research:
-A golfer could use the same ball, but with a slightly different cover design, that would provide maximum distance in cold, dry conditions or hot, humid conditions.
- A ball could be designed that would sacrifice some distance but fly straighter because spin rates would be reduced.
- Ball manufacturers could save thousands of dollars in research, manufacturing and testing by using the "virtual manufacturing" done on the ASU computers.
"Whether they would pass that on to consumers would be their call," Squires said, "but it would eliminate building prototypes and field testing them. They would have all that information upfront."