If you take golf club advertising a gospel, powerful advancements are being made in materials science and aerodynamics that enlarge ideal areas and increase ball speed at impact with each successive product launch.
While the hyperbole in golf equipment marketing materials is rampant, there is no doubt that further gains continue to be made in increasing the moment of inertia, increasing the clubface trampoline effect and maximizing the clubface. tolerance on off-center hits.
Bryson DeChambeau currently leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, averaging 323.7 yards to start. Twenty years ago, when John Daly was the longest hitter on tour, he only scratched his big 306.7-yard stick. Ten years ago, when JB Holmes was the longest bomber, his average tape measure reading was 318.4 meters. While increasingly stringent USGA design regulations may put a damper on increasing tee shot power, forgiveness is still an area where sizable gains have a long way to go.
Altair Engineering simulation software uses data analysis, artificial intelligence and high performance computing to automate processes, accelerate prototyping and optimize golf club design. By providing engineers and designers with an ever-growing array of inputs, data sets, and variables to play with, golf clubs can be fine-tuned and improved to meet specific goals.
“We can look at impact performance, coefficient of restitution, distance and speed. We can look at the aerodynamics. We can virtually in a computer watch how you and I or Tiger Woods or Bryson DeChambeau will rock his club, how the club will behave and how can we optimize its performance to meet certain criteria, ”says Ismail Benhayoun, Technical Director of Altair Engineering. .
One of their latest additions to their product line gives golf club engineers the ability to evaluate an assortment of measurements surrounding soil interaction to get a read on how a club will perform in a bunker, when attacking a golf ball through high rough or while digging. up to a divot.
“It can be with sand, it can be with grass, you can imagine all the possible permutations – how does this club behave, does it feel and does it behave in these conditions,” explains Benhayoun.
Cleveland Golf arrived at its Gliderail technology, a unique geometry found on the soles of the brand’s new fairway woods, using Altair’s ground impact simulation tools.
“For players hitting the ground before hitting the golf ball, this gives them more forgiveness and more sustained head speed for longer so they can have an impact before you’ve lost all that head speed. “, Dustin Brekke, director of engineering for Cleveland Golf, said.
“The slide rails hit the ground a bit earlier and start to relieve the turf a bit to avoid a lot of those big hits,” adds Brekke.
General Forgiveness is an area of focus where Cleveland continues to see opportunities to take their clubs to the next level.
“We no longer only consider the impact on the central face, because players hit a thousand times all over the face and their distribution of these impacts can be represented with a set of equations,” explains Brekke.
“We don’t just want a robot to hit a golf ball farther, we want to make a player who’s going to come out and play 100 rounds on average make all of their shots go farther,” adds Brekke. .
By analyzing off-center impact metrics, Cleveland can make subtle changes in internal clubhead weighting to change moment of inertia and center of gravity position to drive player gains they’ve stopped. find on swing robots.
“Altair’s tools for analyzing data play an important role in directing where you can find opportunities and where you can find solutions,” he adds.
With the constraints set by golf governing bodies that club manufacturers must adhere to, it’s hard not to speculate that we will soon hit a performance cap, but Brekke still sees a lot of room for improvement.
“They certainly set parameters where you can’t go beyond that parameter, but as restrictive as it is, and the amount of extra tools and resources it takes to be able to find gains, the gains are still there. Every business has great teams that work on improvements because they’re always there, ”he says.
Brekke makes it possible that with the drivers it is now fairly easy for companies to hit the maximum sweet spot impact limit, but that still leaves room for improvement outside of the clubface target. Making performance gains beyond the center strike zone is where the most measurable improvements can be made.
“To be able to maintain that sweet spot or just keep it level when you move, that’s where there are still a ton of opportunities. As a game improvement or average golfer myself, I hit all over the face and as soon as you’re half an inch off center you drastically lose ball speed. The USGA does not have a lower cap for off-center hits, ”adds Brekke.