Developing the perfect golf ball with WinWedge

Golfers around the world realise that it’s important to find the perfect ball that suits their game; not too soft, not too hard, enough spin but not too much…

And choosing that perfect golf ball is no easy task. Believe it or not, the United States Golf Association includes close to 1,900 balls on its ‘conforming’ list. There are two-piece balls, three-piece balls, balata and Surlyn balls, wound balls, liquid-centre balls, titanium-centre balls, ‘senior’ balls, ‘ladies’ balls, balls that offer extra distance or extra spin, and thanks to R&D in the golf ball industry, many hybrid balls that combine these characteristics.

One golf ball manufacturer, long regarded as the most prestigious brand name in the $1 billion-per-year golf-ball industry, offers an array of golf ball types to suit the games of every type of golfer. Indeed, the manufacturer makes so many different types of balls and so many compressions, it is confusing even to professional golfers. So, for the average hit and hope golfer, is there really a ball out there that will improve their game? And what’s new on the radical golf ball engineering frontier to help the golf game?

The manufacturer’s Research and Development Department takes on the challenge to continually improve the quality and composition of their golf balls and to expand their product lines. A scientist in the R&D Department says one of the critical elements of a golf ball is the core composition. The core is the golf ball’s source of energy. Differences in core construction affect spin rate (control), initial velocity (distance) and compression (feel).

The typical core construction, either wound or solid, offer significant differences in control and feel. Wound balls have three parts: centre, winding and cover. Wound balls offer more spin and control but typically less distance. Solid balls are comprised of two parts, a solid core and cover. Solid, or two-piece balls, offer more distance but less spin and control. In general, the core is generally a compound of natural and synthetic rubbers (polymers).

The R&D Department conducts core compression experiments to continually improve the interior design of their golf balls. The Department uses rheometers, an instrument for measuring the flow of viscous liquids, to measure different heating cycles of the polymers that comprise a golf ball’s centre. Measuring different heating cycles simulates part of the actual process of developing the ball’s core. By simulating the process with the rheometer, the Department can perfect the heating and compression process to improve the golf ball’s core, and hence, overall control and feel of the ball.

The Department had a need to overlay curves for different heating cycles. They discovered that by using WinWedge Pro to interface the rheometer to their personal computer running Windows 95, they could overlay the heating curves and analyse their results in Microsoft Excel. The R&D scientists preferred to use Excel since they are familiar with it, and Excel is easy to use and a powerful statistical analysis program.

At present the rheometer is connected via a serial cable to a PC running Microsoft Excel and WinWedge. WinWedge parses and filters the data from the rheometer and directs it to Excel. The data is then graphed in real time in Excel. The resulting graphs simulate the heating cycles.

This set-up proved to be very quick and easy to build and use; and resulted in cost effective and accurate data collection.

WinWedge is supplied and supported in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Germany and the USA by Adept Scientific plc, Amor Way, Letchworth, Herts. SG6 1ZA; telephone +44 (0) 203 695 7810, fax +44 (0) 203 695 7819, email; or see Adept’s World Wide Web site at http://www.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

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