A Great Christmas Gift: How to Add 20 Yards to
Your Drive


Leonard Zwelling

(For Dr. Martin Raber)

         Golf is a four-letter word. And for good reason. As the
late, great Robin Williams describes it’s a truly “f..cked up” game where you
try to poke a ball into a gopher hole 18 friggin’ times with a screwed up stick
and a green area with a flag to give you hope, while swinging that club in high
grass and calling it a stroke and hoping you don’t have one.

         OK, that’s a given.

         That also means golf is an easy game, just ball, air, hole
and club and the ball is standing still, not like baseball. But as my pal Marty
Fleckman pro golfer and teacher extraordinaire reminds us, “it’s an easy game,
it’s just hard to play.”

         So being an avid golfer, and this being gift giving season,
I always welcome any help I can get on the course as a gift. But son Richard
and daughter-in-law Amanda have outdone themselves.

         Fully aware that my age is rising as my flexibility falls
they devised a gift that would automatically add 20 yards to every drive. How
can that be without the use of an A-Rod cocktail next to the ball washer on
every hole?

         To understand this requires a tad of physics.

         While resting on the tee, a golf ball has a velocity of
zero. It has a mass of 45.93 grams and is just sitting there looking up at you
daring you to send it to its final resting place, the used golf ball bin at Golf
Galaxy, via the nearest forest or lake.

         You have been given but one implement to create an alternative
outcome. It is called a golf club.

         On the tee, that club is usually a driver. It is long, of
highly variable flexibility depending upon your ability to generate force, muscles,
and torque and has the head size of a rocket propelled grenade. This is limited
to 460 cc  of titanium which is plenty
big and about twice the size of the wood drivers I used as a kid. They have
titanium faces in beautiful lacquered colors to match your belt and hat and in
and of themselves are worthless. Here’s where it gets tricky. YOU have to swing
the club in such a fashion as to strike the still motionless 45+ gram dimpled
sphere and propel it about 250 yards down the center of a green expanse known
as the fairway.

         The club makers like to invent all kinds of formulae about
how their club designs are best for you, but the truth is really simple. There
are only two vectors of meaning—club head position at the point of ball strike (square
to the desired line of flight) and the speed of that club head at the point of
impact.  The rest is pretty much doodoo.

         It takes a lot of work to reproduce a swing that returns the
club face to the precise point at which it began its journey. The optimum manner
is to do so with a simple turn of the body, bringing body weight back to the
right side and then forward with the shift in body weight from right to left
side being precisely co-temporal with the ball strike to inflict maximum force
on the ball.

         That last part is hard. It is to maximize that club head speed
while maintaining sufficient control so as not to disfigure the impact of the
perpendicular club face upon the round ball.

         This gets tricky because the harder you swing to increase
the speed the less control you can exert over the plane of the swing and your
ability to return the club face to the desired position.

         The great golfers do this with power, balance, muscle and
coordination. My son Richard and his wife Amanda know that I have a handicap of
about 10, I am not even Senior PGA material. How could they help?

         They knew that Newton’s Law says F=ma. Force equals mass
times acceleration. They could not change the mass of the club head or the
ball. That’s OK. The ‘a’ is more important anyway. Acceleration is velocity
SQUARED. So if they could eek out a bit more speed from my 66-year old body,
they could lengthen my tee shots. They needed to devise something to put on the
ball that I stared down at just before swinging that might increase the v
squared. I think they did great!

         Happy holidays to all from the man who is healing so he can
knock it around with the President.  

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Leonard Zwelling