MadSci Network: Physics

Re: What can be hit further?

Date: Tue Jun 2 08:43:46 1998
Posted By: Tom Cull, Research Associate, Washington U Med. School
Area of science: Physics
ID: 891007422.Ph

Typically a golf club can be swung faster than a baseball bat because it is 
lighter.  For impacting a golf ball, a golf club is ideal because the head 
of the club will move with significant speed and the ball is light enough 
that almost all of the energy of the swing is transferred to the ball.

I have two examples, cited from my past.

In my youthful days,  I tried such ...umm, shall we call them experiments 
with aluminum bats and a standard wooden head driver.  While the bat could 
send the golf ball flying as much as a full football field with little 
effort, the transfer of energy was not nearly as ideal as that of the golf 
club that went the length of 2 football fields or more with very little 

I once saw a Major League Baseball coach (forget who) taking swings with a 
7 or an 8 iron during a warm-up before a game.  He was easily knocking golf 
balls over the fence (380 feet away -- about 127 yards away).  He took 
several swings with a bat and could hit the golf balls pretty far but not 
nearly as consistently.  I do remember him hitting several over the fence, 
but not with the ease of the very lofted golf club.  Of course, my friends 
and I had to try this at home a few hours later :)

Tom "Swinging for the Fence" Cull

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