So why do some golfers hit the ball further than others?
Stock answer is ‘because they hit the ball harder’.
Just exactly how you can hit the ball harder is a bit technical, but it is well worth finding out.
If you want the full ‘Hit the ball harder” story, including the mathematics, please read our blog Acceleration counts. It reveals how Sir Issac Newtons laws of motion govern the collision between club head and the ball.
What do Newton’s laws of motion suggest?
- Both acceleration and speed contribute to the momentum of an object (club head). Momentum is what is exchanged when things collide with each other (club head and ball).
- The force (momentum) exerted by the club head due to its acceleration is passed to the ball first, that is before the club head begins to slow.
- The collision ends when the ball is travelling faster than the club head.
- Generating one extra G of acceleration will add the same amount of momentum as an increase of 2.2mph in club head speed.
- An incremental increase of either acceleration or speed will yield around 7 yards off the tee (for your driver).
- Backing off your club head speed a little may allow you to accelerate more strongly into the ball and deliver more distance and consistency..
So what is the take away message:
Finding an extra 6.6 mph of club head speed with your driver could yield ~21 yards off the tee (if you can swing that much faster than you do now). By training to add 5 more Gs of acceleration into the ball you could be some 35 yards out in front with less risk and more consistency.
If you are not specifically training to increase your acceleration into the ball, you are missing out on your chance to hit the ball harder and further.
Luckily we built a golf training aid that directly displays club head acceleration and ball impacts. It will guide your practice sessions for more POWER DISTANCE and CONTROL.
Why are we so focused on the ‘follow through’ ?
On our OnsongSwing web site we talk a lot about club head acceleration. Acceleration is what builds an effective ‘follow through’ into your golf swing. We designed our golf training aid to record and display club head acceleration, maximum speed and ball impact.
We believe that a consistent follow through is the cornerstone of a great golf swing. And that added club head acceleration will help you hit the golf ball harder and further.
If you want to improve something; first you have to be able to measure it.
The OnsongSwing provides a unique insight into what is actually happening as the club head smashes into the ball. By looking at the mechanics of that collision between club head and ball we can easily explain just why some golfers hit the golf ball harder and that much further than others; with the same club, same ball and a similar stature. And why the big hitter’s ball seems to launch with an incredible momentum and energy.
The takeout message from this blog is that:
- the momentum contributed to the golf ball by accelerating the club head into the ball is more influential than outright club head speed;
- one additional G of acceleration adds as much momentum as 2.2 mph increase in swing speed, either will yield 7 yards extra ball flight off the tee;
- all the momentum from acceleration is invested in the ball before the club head begins to slow;
- with club head speed maintained, the ball stays in contact with the club face for longer and more energy is transferred to the ball;
- it could be worthwhile to lower your club head speed at impact if it allows you to be accelerating more strongly into the ball.
- if you are not specifically training to increase your acceleration into the ball, you are missing out on your chance to hit the golf ball harder.
What follows is this author’s attempt to explain, as simply as possible, the mechanics of the collision between club head and ball.
And to explain why not all collisions are equal.
Newton’s Laws of motion
The mechanics or physics of the collision between club head and ball are governed by Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion:
- the first law deals with inertia and maintaining motion;
- the second law deals with the forces that causes an object to accelerate or slow down;
- and the third law talks about action and reaction, when two or more objects come into contact.
Conservation of Momentum
Newton’s three laws of motion establish the rules for what he called the “Conservation of Momentum” whereby, during a collision between objects, none of the momentum that an object possesses due to its motion can be lost … (sic) it all ends up somewhere. It is similar to the Conservation of Energy principle which led to Einstein’s E=Mc² and the popular quote that ‘Matter/Energy can neither be created nor destroyed’.
What happens during the collision?
There are some conclusions that can be drawn from Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and how those laws apply to the mechanics of a collision between the club head and the ball:
- The club head has a momentum as it approaches the ball, that is to say ‘it is moving in a direction, at a speed and does not want to change anything”. At a constant speed the club head’s momentum (P) is proportional to the mass (M) that is the weight of the club head multiplied by club head velocity (V) . Momentum is a vector force so it has a heading or direction included. First Law
- If the club head is changing its velocity, either up or down, it also has a value of momentum (F) referred to as force. Force is proportional to club head mass multiplied by the rate at which the club head’s velocity is changing (acceleration) over time (t) . This additional (or subtracting) momentum is also a vector force. The two values; (P) and (F) share the same vector and therefore can be added together. Second Law
- Some fraction of the total momentum (points 1 & 2 above) invested in the club head before the collision is, for the duration of the collision (t), distributed between the ball and club head in inverse proportion to the mass of each. Third Law
Where does all this momentum end up?
The transfer of both forms of momentum can only happen while the ball and club head are in contact (t). A significant part of the available momentum is, for a very short period of time, consumed by overcoming the inertia of the ball. If the ball didn’t have some compression the impact (up to 7,000 kgs) would shatter the club face or the ball or both.
Only a portion of the available momentum will be passed to the ball. Logically, all of the acceleration component of club head momentum will be passed to the ball before the club head begins to slow down. Maintaining club head speed for longer suggests that more of the club head’s momentum can be loaded into the ball. Once the ball is travelling faster than club head the collision has ended.
Most of the other variables like friction, ball oscillation, compression of the club face and the twist and bowing of the shaft are not part of the equation but rather are the results of the collision.
How is Momentum calculated?
The two elements of the club head’s momentum can be calculated or quantified if you like, using Newton’s laws:
First Law:— Momentum (P) equals the club head weight (in kg) multiplied by club head speed (in m/sec) at impact — kg · m/sec
Second Law:— Force (F) equals the club head mass (in kg) multiplied by club head acceleration/deceleration (in Newton · seconds) for the duration of the collision (t) (in seconds) — kg * N·sec * t which resolves to and is measured as kg· m/sec
Because both forms of momentum are expressed in kg· m/sec and are on the same vector and last for the same period of time, the values simply add together.
Note: the Second Law force (F) can be a negative number, if the club head is decelerating.
So what do the numbers say?
One extra G of club head acceleration, for your driver for instance; adds the same amount of momentum as does an increase of one m/sec (2.24 mph) in club head speed.
So increasing your acceleration into the ball (AKA releasing the club head more effectively) by just 1G could add just over 7 yards of carry. (Golf industry data suggests that a 1 mph increase in club head speed for a Driver yields 3.2 yards in carry).
For me it was at this point that I began to understand why some of my golfing buddies could routinely out drive me by 80 yards using my driver. All I needed to catch up was 10 Gs extra club head acceleration. But I was trying to swing the club faster instead, with disappointing results.
While there will be finite limits as to how fast you can swing the club through the ball and how much acceleration you can impart to the club head; adding more acceleration with your current swing speed will up your ball carry and the ball speed significantly. In fact it would be advantageous to lower your measured club head speed at impact, if it allows you to be accelerating more strongly into the ball.
Real life example of the forces in play.
For clarity I have added some metrics (in white) to this screen shot from Matt’s OnsongSwing display:
Matt’s OnsongSwing was set to start recording at a 40kph (11m/sec) threshold swing speed.
Across the 215 millisecond swing duration, the ball impact occurred at 70ms.
So the change in velocity over that 70ms was 147kph (40.8m/sec).
Acceleration (a) = change in velocity over time = (40.8 / 0.07/9.8) = 59.5G.
So we easily calculated the average club head acceleration from Matt’s swing graph.
You can calculate acceleration from your OnsongSwing display graphs:
- Start by noting the threshold speed setting used;
- from the max swing speed displayed on screen subtract the threshold speed so you have the change in velocity;
- count the pixels across the LED display to the point of impact;
- take the swing duration in ms from the screen, divide that number by 128 (pixels across the screen) and then multiply by the pixel count to the point of impact; You now have the change is velocity over time (average acceleration).
- Convert the change in velocity into meters/sec and convert the time into seconds.
- Divide the meters/sec by the time and divide the result by 9.8 to give you the Gs of acceleration into the ball.
An easy rule of thumb is ‘the steeper the acceleration curve, the sweeter the hit’.
If you see that your swing graph has peaked and is curving down before impact, don’t bother trying to calculate the amount of deceleration over time, it’s a bit to depressing (see the Pivot Table below).
There are a couple of ways to quantify how Matt’s 59.5G of acceleration (calculated above) added to the momentum of the club head:
Every G of acceleration could be said to multiply the weight of the club head from the balls perspective. In the graph Matt’s 300 gram driver is travelling at 187kph and accelerating at 59.5G’s. To put those three numbers in perspective; the golf ball thought it was hit by a 40 pound cannon ball travelling at 112mph.
The force exerted on the ball by Matt’s 59.5 G of acceleration in terms of the effective swing speed can be found using the Pivot Table at the end of this blog. Matt’s effective swing speed was more than doubled to over 247mph (59G*2.24mph).
It is important, when considering these equations and the effect on the ball, to remember that “the higher the values of Momentum and Force; the shorter the duration of the collision (t)”. After the ball flies off the club face what is left is the remaining momentum of the club in the golfers hands.
So is Matt’s graph an extreme example? No!
Most every time I’ve had a golf pro using the OnsongSwing during my demonstrations, the swing graphs look pretty much the same; big steep accelerations and high club head speeds.
For balance and perspective, here is an example in the negative Gs: If our average mid handicap golfer drags the sole of their 3wood over the grass for 6” before making contact with the ball there might not be a big reduction in swing speed but there sure won’t be much acceleration happening. The impact on their golf shot can be significant.
The equations that drive the pivot table
First Law of motion as it pertains to ball and club head:
- at impact the ball appears, to the club head, to be very heavy indeed, because it is stationary and resists movement but it actually only weighs around 46 grams (Mb) and because it has zero Velocity (Vb) it has no momentum:- Pb = Mb * Vb = 0
- the club head of a driver weighs in around 300grams (Mc); and if it is moving at a constant 50M/sec>(Vc) it has significant momentum:-Pc = Mc ·Vc = 0.3Kg*50m/sec = 13.4kg·m/sec
Third law establishes:
- if the club head is travelling at a constant speed all of the momentum (pc), after the collision, is apportioned between club head and the ball in inverse proportion to their mass, and
- no momentum is lost so after collision pb+pc = 13.4kg·m/sec = Momentum due to velocities = Pv
The ball gains momentum and club head loses momentum.
pb= 13.4Kg m*0.3Kg/(0.3+0.046)Kg = 11.6kg·m/sec
Pc = Pv – pb = 1.8kg·m/sec
So to summarise for a system where the club head is at constant velocity:
- All the energy that was in the club head as it approached the ball was apportioned between the club and the ball in inverse proportion to their mass.
- The exchange of momentum only occurs while the club and ball are in contact (until the ball is travelling faster than the club head).
Introducing the Second law into the equation
We need to integrate our equation for momentum (pv) due to velocity with our equation for force (Fa) due to acceleration. This is important because a club head will typically carry a force due to acceleration and a force due to its terminal speed. To integrate we can simply add the Force due to acceleration with the momentum due to velocity. (pv + Fa) The combined momentum is then distribute between the ball and club head in inverse proportion to their mass (ie mass of club Mc over [Mc + mass of ball Mb]).
We can do this integration simply enough because both values are measured in kg·m/sec and both share the same vector heading. Both equations share the same time (collision duration) and the same terminal club head speed.
So for a club head accelerating at 40Gs with a terminal velocity of 50m/sec our integration equation looks like this
Ball momentum = (pv + Fa)*(Mc/[Mc+Mb])
=([Mc * V] + [Mc * a])*(Mc/[Mc+Mb])
This new number for the combined momentum of 23.4kg·m/sec, available for distribution into the ball, is almost twice the momentum available from club head speed alone 13.4kg·m/sec. (Also see the pivot table for this new number.)
The Pivot Table below shows both positive and negative influences of acceleration on the available ball momentum.
There will be a point for every individual where they will reach the maximum swing speed they are physically capable of achieving with consistency and stability. If that chosen swing speed is achieved at the ball, the club head will have no acceleration at impact and will be losing speed for the duration of the collision.
Obviously, there are physiological differences between golfers, including differences in the percentage of fast twitch muscles that are available to accelerate the club head. There is also a dynamic limitation on how much acceleration can be invested in the club head from very low swing speeds. And of course there is the broad range of technique and swing dynamics to consider. None the less at Onsong Innovation we believe that acceleration into the ball can be the equaliser for virtually all golfers.
So finally let’s look at the table above to demonstrate how changing the dynamics of your current swing might help increase distance and improve consistency.
Taking a cut in impact speed, that allows you to be accelerating at impact, will let you swing the club with more consistency and repeatability.
Adding 10Gs of acceleration is the equivalent of 22mph of swing speed and a difference of approx. 70 yards of carry off the tee.
After doing this modelling, I am more convinced than ever that most golfers could improve the consistency and power in their golf game by training for increased acceleration into the ball.
Note: in doing the research for this blog I was truly surprised that I could not find a single reference paper that would model the distribution of momentum between club head and ball. From Google, to Wiki, and onto the Physics textbooks in our local University library, nothing found. So if you would like to contribute to the discussion please use the Contact form on onsongswing.com/contact and I will be in touch.
Benchmarks: your guide to progress
In science, industry and sport, bench-marking is the method used to compare performance metrics whether it’s for; results, consistency, time or cost. Using the OnsongSwing benchmarks facility during your practice sessions; you will be able to compare graphs from your current practice session with six bench-marked swing graphs that you have saved as your best from each club type. The dynamics you can compare are; club head acceleration, smash factor, follow-through, max swing speed and swing duration.
These innovative insights can be used either in one session or over a number of training periods for the six club types.Your review screens for each club type are saved between practice sessions. This means that at any one time you have 48 swings stored in your device along with the six benchmarks you have selected. The facility allows for easy comparison between your current session’s swing graphs and your previous best. This provides a powerful training tool. it can provide fascinating insights into your training sessions and the differences in how you train with the different club types.
While reviewing your last eight swings, you can save a new best swing. This action will overwrite the previously saved best for that club type. Recording of benchmarks helps you celebrate your progress and see where improvements are being achieved.
To save a new best swing as a benchmark:
- Whilst displaying the review screen of choice, press M to save.
- Press Enter to confirm.
To review your saved best swing benchmarks for each club type:
To help you gain insight into how your swing dynamics change dependent on your club selection, the OnsongSwing lets you view your best swing for each club type in sequence.
- In the MAIN MENU scroll to <Best Swings> and press Enter to select.
- Press ►► to cycle through your best swing for each of the six club types.
- Press Enter to return to the Swing When Ready .
Compare your swing across the bag
It is useful to compare your golf swing across club types. For instance, some golfers over swing when using longer clubs. Most golfers have a favorite club that gives them maximum confidence. Comparing your best swing graph with that club to swing graphs from other clubs can be a bit of a revelation.
Happy Golfing from the OnsongSwing team!
Hi hello to our Members. You may have recently seen news articles about changes to the European Union’s Privacy Protection policies. And you possibly have received E-mails from various organisations notifying you of updates to their individual Privacy Policies. We did not send any of our Members an e-mail about Compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Why not? you might ask; well we did some research and, after digesting a really good white paper from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, it appears that Onsong Innovation’s OnsongSwing.com e-commerce activity and our management of Personal Information that we hold for EU citizens who are members or casual site visitors does not fall under the GDPR. We do not perform any Data aggregation using you personal information nor do we pass your personal information to third parties beyond your delivery details to our couriers.
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- You can now, via the Member’s Priority Support Contact Form, request a copy of all the personal information we hold for your account with us.
Please select the Subject:- Personal Information or GDPR request.
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While we would be disappointed to see you cancel your membership we respect your rights to do so.
Cheers and Happy Golfing!
for the OnsongSwing team
It is all about: power distance and control —
If you’ve been playing golf for a while, no doubt you will have seen a lot of different swings, temperaments and skill levels. You will also have noticed that the best golfers seem to have effortless golf swings and almost boring levels of consistency. Is there something going on there that we mortals just don’t understand?
Control your expectations
One of the reasons golf is such a great sport is because it relies on a handicap system to equalise us on the course. If you are in a foursome with the Club champion and they make more mistakes in the round than you do, you can take the round with your net score.
Realistically however your low handicap playing companion will seldom make two mistakes in a row and mostly plays well within his or her capabilities. Whereas us mere mortals:
- try to muscle our shots, swing at about 110% of our capability and completely lose rhythm and form,
- don’t really know from shot to shot how far the ball will fly or how well it will stop, and we tend to use our best shot from recent games as our yardage, for each club and
- we take high-risk cut shots or draws to get ourselves back on the fairway and advance the ball towards the green, when a straight shot sideways will generally get us out of trouble in minimum strokes.
Play within your capabilities!
At OnsongSwing we talk a lot about power, distance and control. Each word holds a lot of different meanings in the dictionary and we think especially so in the minds of golfers. The three words represent the strategic pillars of an effective golf game; they should apply to every golfer; competition professional and occasional weekend player alike. So our three pillars look like this:
Power is about transferring maximum energy from the club head into the golf ball. Power is not about outright strength.
Distance is about swinging the club and trusting the distance the ball will carry. Distance is not about hitting the ball into the next post code.
Control comes in part, from having options for trajectory and spin, but mostly it’s about consistency and hitting the ball straight.
Happy Golfing from the team.
Exclusive Member Content.
Membership comes with your purchase of the OnsongSwing® golf training aid.
Some of us really struggle and are hugely frustrated by our chipping action around the greens. The OnsongSwing combined with this chipping practice drill will go a long way towards helping you build consistency into your short game.
A couple of principles we suggest you apply to your chipping;
- every chip you make, no matter how close to the green and the pin you are, should have some follow through,
- don’t let the club head slow into the ball, that will make it almost impossible to maintain distance control across different lies,
- maintain a consistent stroke through the ball, shorten the back swing to adjust the carry.
Use these settings for this drill:
- Press M for MAIN MENU and < Club Type> will appear on screen, press ◙ to select.
- Press ► until <Wedges> displays and then press ◙ to select and return to Swing When ready screen.
- Press M for MAIN MENU again and press ► once and < Graph Scale> appears.
- Press ◙ to select then scroll by pressing ► or◄ until <300%> displays and press ◙ to select.
- From the Swing When Ready screen, press and hold ◄ to reduce the threshold speed to the minimum.
Your OnsongSwing is now super sensitive to all movement and the audio feedback tone will activate at very low swing speeds.
Use this drill to build consistency into your chipping:
- place the ball a little back in your stance,
- move your weight more onto your front foot,
- stay very still over the ball,
- slow your takeaway to avoid the audio tone activating on your back swing,
- shorten your back swing and extend your follow through,
- accelerate through the ball, continuing at least until the club head points to your target landing area.
The aim is to maintain the audio tone through the ball and into the follow-through. Don’t look where the ball goes feel it’s direction through your hands. Practise across a range of distances from your target; increase your back swing and swing speed for more carry.
With an effective follow-through, your graphs will show the impact with the ball in the middle of the screen and your follow-through continuing to the right-hand edge of screen.
Catching the ground first, slowing into the ball or lifting early to watch the ball on it’s short flight, will all result in graphs that run across the screen and stop abruptly on or just before the right-hand edge of the screen.
We’d love to hear if this chipping practice drill helps build more consistency into your game. It certainly helped reduce my frustration levels around the green.
The best time to start practising your golf was sometime last year. The second best time is today!
The OnsongSwing graphs club-head speed through impact. The difference between practice swing and ball striking is a real eye-opener for some of my students …
Are we being ridiculously generous with our credits? No you earned it!.
We would like to remind members that our referral program is currently paying one referral credit for each successful purchase of an OnsongSwing. Your credits can purchase golf related items/consumables that we stock in our online shop.
Also, if you have an active Paypal account we can transfer cash funds into that Paypal account to the tune of 7% of the net retail price for each referral credit. That is AU$15.75 for each credit. Percentage wise that is undoubtedly the best loyalty/referral offer ever.
If you have read our Member Rewards page, you will have spotted that we will also reward you with a bonus gift if you refer nine purchasers in any twelve month period.
Well, for a limited time, the company directors have decided to offer double credits for our high achievers, that is a bonus gift of 9 credits paid into your member Account … that’s AU$141.75