Golf ball/Baseball questions

Since I can’t hit a golf ball very well, I spend a lot of time wondering about them. The act of driving a golf ball is impressive. I mean, a pro-baseball homerun is what, 400 feet to dead center? A fair drive, for an amateur golfer is close to 300 yards - Thats almost a fifth of a mile!
Anyway, here are my golf ball/baseball questions:
[ul][li]What is the record for greatest distance hit with a golf club?[/li][li]Which will hit a golf ball further, a golf club or a baseball bat?[/li][li]Which is moving faster at point of impact, Sammy Sosa’s bat, or a Tiger Woods’ clubhead?[/ul][/li]
PS - How’s that, manhattan? :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t have the exact figure, but I do know that a golf club moves a lot faster than a baseball bat.
The clubhead on Tiger Woods’ driver is travelling well over 100 mph. The best baseball players may get up to 90 mph with their bats.

Go read “The Physics of Baseball” by Adair and you get all the gory details.

True, but a golf ball is going zero MPH when it is struck, whereas a baseball is comiing at an opposite direction at speeds of up to 100 MPH. That’s a lot of energy that needs to be released in an equal opposite direction…

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Even though it doesn’t answer any of the OP questions, This link answers some physics background questions-- i.e. That a dimpled golf ball can be hit up to four times farther that a smooth one!

But a golf club traverses a much longer arc than a baseball bat and is designed to travel through the air much faster than a baseball bat.

I don’t know what the record for longest drive is with a golf club, although I think it is in the upper 400’s (there was an article in Sports Illustrated a while ago).

A golf club can definitely hit a golf ball further than a baseball bat because, as Satan pointed out, a baseball travels far when hit because it is moving at about 90 mph when hit.

The best baseball players (Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr.) can swing the bat 97 mph. This is the fastest at which ESPN’s BatTrack has clocked any bat. Tiger Woods’ club is moving close to 200 mph when he hits the ball. For comparison, Mark McGwire’s golf club moves “well over 200” (this is what he stated in an interview when he was swinging a golf club in a test to see how fast his club was moving). McGwire and Woods both took a test to see how fast the club head was moving during their swings. McGwire won by quite a bit. So to answer your question about which is going faster, Sosa’s bat or Woods’ club, Woods’ club is moving at almost twice the speed as Sosa’s bat.

Umm…No. Even most pro golfers do not hit 300 yards with any regularity. The average amateur golfer hits between 200-250 yards off the tee. 300 yards is a loooooong way to hit a golf ball.

Ignorant since 1972

I don’t think you’re following the question. The question is - which can hit a golfball further?

If I picked up a golfball and fungoed (self-hit) it, how far would it go (if I was McGgwire)?

I know there is atleast one golfer that hits amazingly long drives. His game isn’t very good anymore because I think he had some drinking problems and he gained a lot of weight. But I know he is pretty famous for his drives. I wanna say John Daly, but I am probably mixing up sports and players there; I really can’t remember his name. And I swear they said he hits like 300 yard drives.

(Wouldn’t expect a 20 female year old college student to know all that wouldja?)

Rather, I was in the position of a spore which, having finally accepted its destiny as a fungus, still wonders if it might produce penicillin.
–Ayi Kwei Armah

You sure about that? When I had my swing measured, I was swinging my driver in the high 80’s. If I get all of it, I can hit a golf ball 270 yards. Of course, like most lousy golfers, it rarely goes straight.

If Tiger can smack the ball 325 yards, I’d expect that his club head speed is maybe 1.4 times mine, which would put him around 125 mph.

Of course, the real difference in my game and Tiger’s is control more than it is distance.

According to “The Physics of Baseball”, an average baseball player will get his bat up to a maximum velocity of about 75 mph.

The book also states that a 90-mph fastball met by an optimum swing will leave the bat at a speed of 140 mph.

Does anyone know what is longer a baseball-bat impact or a golf ball-club impact? Also does a golf ball deform more or less than a baseball does when it gets hit? I would assume that a golf ball doesn’t deform as much, which is another reason why it goes so much further than a baseball.


I hit the ball over 300 yards all the time. From the rough! With a mid-iron! (I just lean back, center my weight on the balls of my feet… and click the left button until the little line hits the top of the swing meter, then, when it comes back down… :smiley: )

You’re right. I said “Close to 300 yds” because I was rounding. A good drive off the tee is 230 or so. I once read a vaguely pornographic sounding book (called something like How to Hit It Long and Straight) that talked exclusively about hitting long tee shots. The author said that, if an amateur golfer practiced what he taught, he (the golfer) coulr regularly hit the ball 275 - 325 off of the tee. Who knows?


Good! Examine things scientifically. That is just the kind of approach I need in order to succesfully get a post onto GQ without manhattan booting it off!

I don’t know any of the info you asked about though. :frowning: That’s why I posted the question in the first place!

“I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping scorn on an inexcusably silly idea – a practice I shall always follow.”
-Robert A. Heinlein

Ooh - Ooh! Golf questions!

I watched the finals of the US “Long Drive” competition a year or so ago, and the winner won it with something like a 370 yard drive.

Note that this competition involves hitting a golf ball from aways back onto a football field (which has the total yards marked off for easy TV viewing), and hitting it wide of the field disqualifies the shot, so accuracy counts - IE, the contestants have to hit a drive that would in effect land in the fairway.

The winner (who has won something like the last three years in a row) has hit 400+ yard drives, but he backs off some in competition because of that accuracy requirement.

Which will hit a golf ball further, a golf club or a baseball bat?

The surface of the golf club promotes the backspin that makes a golf ball go further. (It’s a hard surface that the golf ball can deform against long enough to pick up its backspin.) The baseball bat is designed to hit baseballs, is made of softer material, and isn’t designed for backspin, so I’d imagine that the golf club is a better tool for this particular purpose. (If it wasn’t, you’d start seeing infomercials on the Golf channel for baseball bats.) :slight_smile:

Which is moving faster at point of impact, Sammy Sosa’s bat, or a Tiger Woods’ clubhead?

As it happens, one of the networks has recently introduced a machine that simultaneously measures the speed of the clubhead as it hits the ball and the speed of the ball as it leaves the clubhead. They call the latter divided by the former the “smash factor”, and the larger that number is the better (IE, more centered and straighter) the ball was struck.

They were using this machine at a pro tournament earlier this year, and the pros were generally hitting drives with a clubhead speed of 100-110 MPH and a “smash factor” of 1.4.

BTW, if the golf ball was perfectly smooth (IE, no dimples) so that backspin wasn’t a factor, the club you’d use to hit your longest shots would be whichever one was lofted closest to 45 degrees - probably your nine iron - and your longest shots would go about 90 yards. Those dimples are important!

I just looked it up, and Jason Zuback is the four-times-in-a-row winner of the RE/MAX World Long Drive championship that I was referring to above. There’s a blurb about him by Pinnacle (because he uses their golf balls to hit his monster drives) here.

His longest drive in that championship series according to that web page is 412 yards, set in 1997.

This makes sense - a straight drive will fly farther anyway, right? It wastes none of its force moving in any direction not directly away from its point of origin.

But aren’t you ignoring the sheer mass of the baseball bat which is far greater than the golf club?

I mean - a club head weighs what, 10 ounces? A baseball bat weighs pounds! If I remember my physics, f = m*a, so, if the clubhead moves about twice as fast as the baseball bat (see above), and the bat weighs at least twice what the clubhead does (which it does), then bat should still send the ball further, no?

Anyone care to figure smash factors for major leaguers?

I’ve heard this before. I don’t understand it, but I have heard it. You mean to say that my nine-iron will his a smooth superball further than my driver? Anyone else think this seems counter-intuitive?

A smooth golf ball wouldn’t cancel the lift from backspin - on the contrary, it would emphasize it. The problem with a smooth golf ball would be the drag - the dimples create a turbulent layer around the ball, which reduces the drag and lets the ball fly farther. A smooth ball would quickly slow down as if you’re hitting it through molasses.

The 45-degree figure would be if there is no air, and the golf ball gets a fixed speed independent of takeoff angle, neither of which applies to what we’re talking about. Even with a smooth ball, the longest club would be a long wood, because more of the club head speed is transferred to ball velocity. A nine iron just doesn’t send the ball away with as much speed as a driver.

Normally nine-irons are 43 degrees of loft. Pitching wedges are 48 degrees and sand wedges are 53 degrees. Some people also carry something called a flop wedge that is usually 60 degrees.

John Daly sometimes uses a driver that has 0 degrees of loft in it.

Oh man, check that out. I even had his name right, and no one is gonna reward me for talking sports with the big boys??? Damn, what is the point.

I was able to give an actual name for a player who hits incredible drives, it was on topic for the thread, and it was something that your average 20 year old female college student does not know. And no one is gonna give me a little congratulatory pat on the back?!?! Man, I wish my dad was here, he would atleast be mildly impressed.

Rather, I was in the position of a spore which, having finally accepted its destiny as a fungus, still wonders if it might produce penicillin.
–Ayi Kwei Armah


You bet I was impressed. I just didn’t want to get flamed for flirting. :wink:

That said, wanna go somewhere and flirt?

No. Absolutely not. The kinetic energy (which is the relevant factor in this instance) is K=mv^2 (m * v * v), and while a baseball bat would probably have more kinetic energy because of its much greater mass, not all of the energy is transferred to the ball (otherwise the bat would stop when you hit the ball). In this case it comes down to momentum, which is kind of irrelevant because the bat doesn’t slow down very much on impact. Neither does a golf club. Screw the physics: The bottom line is that baseball bats are not designed to hit baseballs a long way. Metal baseball bats hit much farther. Too far, in fact, which is why they don’t allow them in any real leagues.

(this quote is about the 45 degree arc thing). The lateral distance an unresisted projectile flies is proportional to the product of the sine and the cosine of the trajectory, which is maximum at 45 degrees, where the sine and cosine are equal. Even with a smooth ball, you will be able to hit it much further with a lower trajectory because of air resistance. The dimples on a golf ball give it its own lift, which means that you should be spending your time sending the ball forward, not up. The optimum trajectory for a golf ball is much lower than it is for a baseball.