Predicting golf ball launch characteristics using iron clubhead presentation variables and the influence of mishits

Tom W Corke, Nils F Betzler, Eric S Wallace, Steve R Otto

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    1 Citation (Scopus)
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    In golf, it is well understood that the interaction between the clubhead and ball determines the initial ball launch conditions. Specific knowledge regarding these relationships for iron clubs, particularly when clubhead and turf interactions are considered, would be both novel and of benefit to practitioners. Linear regression analysis was used to determine relationships between selected clubhead presentation and shot outcome variables for a sample of 1127 ‘5-iron’ shots hit from natural turf by 96 golfers. As expected, clubhead speed was the most significant predictor of ball speed, with obliquity of impact and eccentricity of the impact location making smaller, yet statistically significant contributions. Marginally ‘fat’ strikes, whereby the leading edge of the clubhead was only slightly beneath the ground at impact, appeared to have a lesser effect than expected in terms of ball speed. Effective loft was found to be the strongest predictor of vertical launch angle, whilst clubhead speed and spin loft had the greatest influence in the model for predicting total spin; inclusion of ‘thin’ strikes (i.e. those struck with the leading edge) appeared to create a non-linear element to these models and consequently overestimated the influence of vertical impact location in both cases. These findings suggest that determination of impact location, particularly for instances whereby ball contact is not wholly on the club face, is critical in research concerning irons. Overall, this study makes an original contribution to the understanding of 5-iron shot outcomes based on clubhead presentation characteristics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages10
    JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology
    Early online date17 Jan 2021
    Publication statusPublished online - 17 Jan 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © IMechE 2021.

    Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Golf
    • Iron
    • Multiple regression
    • Impact
    • Clubhead presentation
    • Launch conditions
    • clubhead presentation
    • launch conditions
    • impact
    • iron
    • multiple regression


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