Centrifugal Force Myth
Many articles in golf magazines state that a force called centrifugal force is the physics principle that is responsible for the production of club head speed. Using the definition for a theory, is centrifugal force something that can be observed and verified or is it a perception that only seems real? The answer is that it is a perception and it is not the physics principle that produces power or club head velocity during the downstroke. How could a myth like this exist for so many years? A review of literature offers some insight.
Again, here is another scientist stating that there is an outward force moving in the direction of the arrow shown in figure 3. This is incorrect. There is no force pulling in the direction of the arrow. If there were such a force, the club could be released and the club would move in that direction. If you release a club at any time during the downstroke, it will go off at a tangent to the arc of the downstroke curve at the time of the release.
In Homer Kelley's book, "The Golfing Machine", Mr. Kelley states on page 36, "club head velocity is developed by Thrust. This Thrust may be Muscular Force and/or Centrifugal Force."
Based on several scientists stating that centrifugal force exists in a golf stroke, there is no reason to
believe that someone not trained in physics would believe anything different. This has led many top teachers to develop the following incorrect theories:
Golf teachers illustrated in this column have spent most of their lives studying the game of golf in an attempt to provide golfers with honest and factual information. " interpreted science is all about change and, replacement of, or reinterpretation of theories. Because the scientific terminology they have used is not correct, does not mean that the results they achieve as a teacher are diminished. Even if the words used are incorrect, the mechanical motions of golfers can still be correct.
One example of using science incorrectly is in Michael Hebron's book, "See and Feel The Inside Move The Outside", on page 20, he states, "Centrifugal Force, or center force, is the principle of force or power that is directed or created from a central point. It is a developing force, moving from the center outward. Good shots in golf are a result of a sound swing that has centrifugal force."
Another example of using science incorrectly is in the March 1994 issue of Golf Tips, Jimmy Ballard states the following: "I'd like to discuss centrifugal force and the golf swing and explain just what it is. If I took a string with a rock attached to its end, held it between my thumb and forefinger and twirled my fingers around, that rock would spin around on the end of the string as well. The faster I twirled, the faster the rock would fly through the air. My hand would represent an inner moving force, the rock would represent the resulting outer moving force and the two forces would be equal. In short, the inner force controls and determines the outer force - that's centrifugal force. - we have to learn to identify the center of our swing and recognize it as the source of our centrifugal force. That center is our spine."
The final example of using science incorrectly comes from David Leadbetter's book, "The Golf Swing". On page 44 & 45, he states:
"Now for a little physics lesson, The term 'centrifugal force' is used increasingly by teachers when discussing the golf swing. But I have found that only a few golfers really know either what it means, or what it does. It is a force created away from the centre of your swing. Transmitting from your body, out through your arms and hands, it creates leverage, width of arc and club head lag. In turn, they create club head speed and maintain the club on a steady orbit or arc.Think of it this way: holding a piece of string with a weight on the end, begin to spin your wrist in an anti-clockwise direction. As long as your arm stays steady, the weight moves into a constant orbit. The quicker you spin your wrist, the faster the weight moves. The weight though, will always be moving much faster than your wrist - the centrifugal force created will see to that. In the same way, the relationship between body and club during the golf swing is very much like a pair of ice skaters - the lead skater is the hub around which his partner rotates. He revolves very quite slowly while the female skater is moving at a tremendous speed. This is a perfect example of how centrifugal force can be built up around a relatively slow moving axis and transferred to another, much faster object. Remember the dog must wag the tail."
The three previous examples illustrate how using science incorrectly can lead to a major misunderstanding of the principles of physics.
Our next article will expose The Big Muscle Myth. Watch for it in two weeks.
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