Golf Science, with Geoff Ogilvy and Neil deGrasse Tyson

Geoff Ogilvy's slo-mo swing is analyzed at the 2017 Quicken Loans National. ©1995-2017 PGA TOUR, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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About This Episode

Aerodynamics, Doppler radar, laser tracking, and big data! Gary and Chuck find out how science has guided the evolution of golf, from why balls have dimples to how clubs are designed, with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and, from the PGA Tour, 3x world golf champion Geoff Ogilvy. In an episode recorded while Geoff was in town for the 2017 Presidents Cup, the guys explore how golf evolved slowly until the 1980s, when an aerospace engineer named Karsten Solheim applied scientific practices to golf club design and heralded an explosion of technological innovation, fueled by the commercial opportunities of selling better, easier-touse equipment to well-heeled golfers. You’ll learn how the difference in performance between a fresh ball and one covered in dings and dents led to dimpled balls, where the depth, diameter, quantity and patterns of dimpling have led to more aerodynamically efficient balls that can actually self-correct a curve in mid-air. Investigate how the PGA Tour uses Doppler Radar and laser tracking to follow the flight of every shot on tour, instantly giving golfers feedback on spin rate, distance, location and speed. Neil explains how Doppler radar actually works, including how the speed of light in air (not a vacuum) figures into measurements. Ponder the role crowd noise plays in competition, from the silence demanded at country club sports like tennis and golf to the deafening roar of a home field crowd in a football stadium. Plus, Neil, Chuck and Gary discuss which is harder: making a hole in one in golf, hitting a home run in baseball, or pitching a perfect game, and Neil shares his fantasies about solving equations in front of an audience, complete with sportscaster-like commentary.

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