Subscribe to Thread

the physics of hitting a golf ball

Don O

Thanks to other companies promoting 2 piece or softer compression balls "for the rest of us", and Titleist promoting even top performance balls have to perform at any speed, I've been thinking....

1. Physics being unassailable, at the average driver speed of 90, a softer ball will compress more than a higher compression.  But the energy transfer from the head and speed is the same.  So wouldn't a higher compression come off the face faster, as more energy transfers to motion?   So compression wouldn't impact distance, or at least not make a case for a softer ball?

2. At the highest speeds, those players get more benefit from the spring characteristics of the club face.  So for them a lower compression ball may absorb some of the energy and end up shorter?  The extra spring is a law of physics that I can't overcome with a 90 mph drive and any ball. 

So for the average of us, it comes down to swing mechanics for ball selection, but based on maximizing efficiency with loft effect and minimizing side spin on driver and long irons to help the ball stay on course.  Then there are the feel considerations off of the various clubs - and that is personal  In the end we all get to balance performance and price - four dollars for a ball can be an issue.

8 Replies

  1. Monty m

    Well said DonO
  2. Quintin H

    Yes a higher compression ball will come off the face faster..........that means it will spend less time in contact with the face, it does not mean it will be moving faster when it comes off the face.

    an opposite example

    When using a springface driver the ball comes off the face faster.......this means the ball will be moving faster when it comes off the face,  however the ball is in contact with the face longer.

  3. P. Blair

    It's the coefficient of restitution that matters more than the compression. Compression is feel, COR is ball speed. There's a 40 compression ball out there with a very high COR that can be driven effectively by 100+mph swings.

    Like anything in golf that is heavily marketed as an important statistic - swing speed, shaft flex, "distance" - the science is much more complex than the marketing would have you believe. 

  4. Bob L


  5. Mike C

    Wow!  I must have been asleep in physics class or something because you guys are talking way above my head!

  6. Fred C

    The ball speed is going to be affected by a variety of factors. #1 is did the center of mass of the club go through the center of mass of the ball. In other words, was the ball hit in the "sweet spot"? #2. Was the clubface at impact perpendicular to the cubhead path? These factors determine how much energy will not be transferred to the ball. Along with clubhead velocity  - they call this the "smash factor" and it's essentially a measure of how efficient was the transfer of momentum. If you mis-hit a shot, less momentum is transferred to teh ball and the ball does not leave the clubhead as fast as a solid hit. This affects the ball more than ball compression ever will.

    As for the "spring effect ", this is the coefficient of restitution and simply measures the energy loss or retention when two objects collide.. In the case of golf, it's a maximum of 0.83. This means that when the clubhead impacts the ball, there cannot be more than an 83-percent transfer of the energy of the head to the ball. This site tells a lot

  7. Greg P

    See the ball.  Hit the ball.  That's all we need, right MIke?

  8. Monty m

    Right on Greg.

    From: Greg P <>
    Sent: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 2:01 PM
    Subject: Greg P replied to Re: the physics of hitting a golf ball
    Team Titleist
    Greg P replied to Re: the physics of hitting a golf ball in Golf Balls.
    See the ball.  Hit the ball.  That's all we need, right MIke?
    You were sent this email because you opted to receive email notifications when someone responded to this forum thread.
    View and reply online or reply to this email.
    To unsubscribe from this thread, disable notifications here.
    The information transmitted is intended only for the
    person or entity to which it is addressed and may
    contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any
    review, retransmission, dissemination or other use
    of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this
    information by persons or entities other than the
    intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this
    in error, please delete the material from any

Add Your Voice

Please login to post a comment.

Sign In

Haven't registered for Team Titleist yet?

Sign Up