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Characterizing the Perfect Golf Swing

A new, simpler way to measure golf swings could finally reveal the secrets of the perfect golf swing.

Various complex devices and techniques are available for analysing a golf swing. Some approaches use various types of software to analyse video images of a swing while others use various types of electronic sensors and processors connected to the club itself. “Over time, the tendency has been to make ever more sophisticated measurements in an effort to obtain increasingly detailed understanding of the golf swing,” says Robert Grober, an expert on the physics of golf at Yale University in New Haven.

Today Grober reveals a new, simpler approach that allows a golf swing to be accurately reconstructed. The measurement system consists of two accelerometers mounted in the shaft of a golf club with the direction of sensitivity oriented along the axis of the shaft. One accelerometer is located under the grip, preferably at a point between the two hands. The other is located further down the shaft. And that’s it.

Reconstructing the motion is simply a matter of assuming that a golf swing consists of a double pendulum motion and then fitting the data to this model.

Grober says the system is simple and robust and provides a detailed insight into the tempo, timing and rhythm of the golf swing. That should make it easier to work out what it is that separates the Tigers from the tabbies.

Grober has already put his device to good use. A comparative study of twenty-five golfers shows that club speed is generated in the downswing as a two step process. The first phase starts at the top of the swing and involves impulsive acceleration of the hands and club. This is followed by a second phase, the release, where the club is accelerated while the hands decelerate.

Got that? Time to hit the links.
Refs:
arxiv.org/abs/1001.0956: An Accelerometer Based Instrumentation of the Golf Club: Measurement and Signal Analysis
arxiv.org/abs/1001.1137 Measuring Tempo, Rhythm, Timing, and the Torques that Generate Power in the Golf Swing

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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