Effect of Clubhead Inertial Properties and Driver Face Geometry on Golf ball Trajectories ☆

Research paper by William McNally, Daniel Balzerson, Daniel Wilson, John McPhee

Published on: 09 Jul '16Published in: Procedia Engineering


There are many factors that influence the amount of side-spin imparted to a golf ball during impact with a driver. In general, the best golf drives are launched with minimal side-spin, producing a straight ball trajectory with maximum carry distance. During off-centre impacts, side-spin is generated due to a phenomenon known as the “gear effect.” The extent of the gear effect depends on clubhead design parameters such as the moment of inertia and centre of gravity location. The bulge of a driver is a design feature implemented to counter-act the side-spin produced by the gear effect. In this investigation, an impulse-momentum impact model and an aerodynamic ball flight model are used to (i) examine the effect of the centre of gravity depth (distance from clubface) on ball trajectory during off-centre impacts, (ii) test the efficacy of movable weight technology, and (iii) optimize the bulge radius in relation to the clubhead's centre of gravity depth and moment of inertia. In the first study, it is qualitatively shown that side-spin increases linearly with increasing centre of gravity depth. In the second study, it is found that movable weights can have a significant effect on ball trajectory, especially at higher swing speeds. In the third study, a relationship between the bulge radius, centre of gravity depth, and moment of inertia is developed, and an equation for calculating the optimum bulge radius is fit to the simulation results.

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