Physics Professor Cracks Mystery of the Perfect Putt

Source: Wired:Pysics Professor Cracks Mystery of the Perfect Putt | Playbook

SirShanksAlot Comments: An interesting article on the perfect place to aim for straight putts. Unfortunately the article/images are little difficult to understand (or maybe it’s just me), but we thought we’d share. Enjoy!

It’s the bane of any golfer, whether you’ve got a 0 handicap or you just like to schlub it out on the municipal par-3 courses once a year with your friends. You make a great drive off the tee, your approach shot from the fairway gets you on the green in two, and you’ve got an easy 10-foot birdie putt staring you down.And you pull it left.Why, oh why, did you pull it left? It was a gimme putt, only 10 or 12 feet out and lined up perfectly! And yet, the golf gods wouldn’t toss this gift your way. What could you possibly have done differently?Bob Grober feels for you, and he’s got the solution to your putting problem. A physics professor at Yaleas well as the founder and president of Sonic Golf, Grober is an expert on the physics of golf, and his new research zeroes in on why golf balls move the way they do on certain putts. Moreover, he’s developed a technique that’ll have you immediately putting more accurately.How’d he do it? Physics, of course.

Traditionally, golfers aim for a point just beyond the hole, since you don’t want the ball to fall short of your target. Essentially, you want to provide enough power to get the ball just beyond the hole, except it will (of course) fall in once it passes. But in analyzing putting trajectories, wherein the speed of your putt would carry the ball 18 inches past the hole, Grober found that no matter the putting distance, whether your’re five or 15 feet away, there was always an area shaped like a diamond and positioned just above the hole, shaped by the target lines.Here’s a collection of projections shown by various putts made from 5, 10, and 15 feet away.
As your putt gets farther away from the hole, the diamond itself gets smaller and farther above the hole position.How you can approximate the diamond’s position yourself is fairly easy. The first step is to not focus on just your putt. Instead, imagine a group of equidistant putts positioned along a 30-degree arc from your spot on the green. Then, envision where those points converge beyond the hole and it should form a diamond. Aim for that, and you’re golden.Grober’s findings seem to echo a similar study done earlier this year by researchers at North Carolina State, who simulated more than 1 million basketball shots to find the areas on a basketball court that were most generous to hitting bank shots. In that case, the NC State also found that there existed a vertical floating plane several inches behind the backboard that players could aim for, no matter where they were positioned on the court.As for golf, since the hole is a generous 4.25 inches wide, there’s usually a margin of error of about 1 inch either way, so even if you don’t perfectly hit your diamond placement, you might just get lucky anyway.
Of course, all of these crack calculations only account for if you’re putting along a flat green. If there are any bumps or imperfections along your target path, you’re on your own.

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