Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Golf, the Final Frontier

WHEN the last grant-rich vein of the climate-change gold mine runs dry many settled scientists will be forced to take up other areas of inquiry. For those casting about for alternate occupations, here is a suggestion: golf.

Why is it normally an easy shot to drop a lob onto a green 100 metres distant, but that effort so often is apt to go astray when water lies between tee and hole?

Even though an ARC grant has yet to arrive, the Professor will be spending much of the day's remainder conducting field research at Imperial Bearbrass. When peer reviewed, today's scorecard will be added to the body of literature now stored in the bottom pocket of the golf bag, which will be the basis for an ambitious funding application. If climate scientists can be forever be jetting hither and yon with their taxpayer-funded travel passes, why shouldn't a poor Bunyip push the frontiers of human understanding at St Andrews, Pebble Beach, Augusta and other locations where expense-account are welcome at clubhouse restaurant and bar?

Back later, when today's research is done.

UPDATE: Whoops, too late. The climateers are already off the tee.

Damn it. Late to the ball again.


  1. The Old and Unimproved DaveOctober 31, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    No sweat, Professor. Simply rewrite your research grant application to investigate why flocks of birds seem to follow some golfers around the links.

    Then sit back, allow the grant dosh to roll in, and spend a subsidised eighteen months on your research.

    No need to mention in the grant application that we already know the answer.....namely, that the birds are waiting to pounce on the worms.

  2. The climate-change grant-binge is coming to an end. I'm waiting for a new binge of grants for papers and theses titled: How did the climate scam take over the world? Or: Have climate scientists damaged science in general? Or: What's gone wrong with peer-review? Where there are grants to be given there are always papers to be written.

    Pedro of Adelaide

  3. Ah Bunyip you have struck a gold mine which should keep you in research grants for a lifetime. Sailors such as I have spent many years looking at the differentials of air pressure between land and sea when navigating along a coast and hence anticipate where our propulsion will come from at various times of the day. You would of course require a good golf course with a substantial water hazard and conduct your analysis from dawn until dusk to accomodate the micro changes in pressure due to temperature, etc. Just make sure you select good peer review types, preferably not competitors from your golf club.

  4. Why does a body of water attract a golf ball? That's a very interesting question Professor.

    The problem you raise is known issue in the communications industry. When, for example, a high-bandwidth microwave radio system is being installed between two sites, every effort is made to avoid a body of water between the two locations.

    If the signal is being transmitted over terra firma only, clear line-of-sight is the sole requirement. If a body of water lies between the two sites, the water "bends" the signal down to the water.

    There are two ways to counter this problem. The first option is to relocate either or both of the radio masts to avoid the body of water, or alternatively to increase the height of the towers to compensate for the bending.

    No one wants to receive soggy data, who wants to see Gurgle instead of Google?

    On the golf course, the location of the tee and the hole are fixed, you cannot move either without upsetting the golf course greenkeeper. Similarly, there is nothing you can do with regards to increasing the height of the hole to account for the attraction of your golf ball to the water.

    There is only one solution to your problem Professor, and that is to increase the height of the tee. I therefore suggest that you take a step-ladder with you to increase the height when you tee off. That should fix your problem.

    I would strongly suggest that you avoid the drinks trolley when playing, that may make teeing off from the top of your step ladder a hazardous undertaking.

  5. Good Luck with your ARC grant proposal professor. Climate Change is a serious subject and your urgent study into this subject requires visiting the world's top golfing greens is a noble and worthwhile endeavor. I hope the grant also covers studying their menu and wine list.

  6. Come off it Professor!

    This golf course has definitely been affected by climate change.

  7. Why is it normally an easy shot to drop a lob your ball onto a green 100 metres distant, but that effort so often is apt to go astray when water lies between tee and hole?

    That is actually has been studied and explained.
    The air density is changed ever so slightly over water depending on air temperature.

    Sometimes it's helping the distance sometimes it's hindering.

    You might think it's insignificant but we are talking about proportions here.
    Water might be 20 M wide your distance is 100 M
    the percentage is quite a sizable one, all it takes is a small drop in speed and you're in the water or overshoot the green.

  8. Golf is the Scots revenge upon the English.
    It is the only sport where one initially places a one inch ball on a small plastic tee and whacks it with all ones might, yet later, when the one inch ball rests on another ball about eight thousand miles wide, one whacks again, this time with intent to gouge a piece of the larger ball from its setting, thus enabling the smaller sphere, (yes, I know the larger one is an oblate spheroid, so don't get picky) to obtain elevation.
    When one arrives at ones destination, yet another stretch of earth awaits where one selects another type of whack stick and persuades the smaller sphere to sink into a hole just large enough to enable ingress.
    Druing all this, one uses a whole set of instruments notably unsuitable for the process. The best of these is the HB pencil stub one uses to score, which can relied upon to lower said score, at least while ones partner in this frivolity isn't watching.

    However, this does confirm ones belief in god, or at least the golfing deity-because, as we all know, only god can handle a one iron.

    Have I played this game?-let us say that I have walked around many golf courses, but haven't played much golf! As has been said by many, golf is what spoils a good walk!

    1. 'Tis a funny game indeed. It's one of those sports where the less you hit the ball, the happier you become, so you would expect that if you didn't play at all, you would be ecstatic.

      I wouldn't know, but one day I'm sure I'll be happier...

  9. Another good one is how the hell I can get backspin with a 5 wood into a Par 3 but I can't get any with a wedge

  10. Being a Scot ,starting Golf at 10years old I know a little about it .My Teacher used to say
    "what better way to spend a wet ,cold ,windy day?with this philosophy ,can I have a bit of your Liebor Gubbmint Grant ? PLEASE !

  11. The science is not yet settled on the vexatious question of how to finese the air swing and how to succesfully line up your 4th putt - and clearly they are matters in need of detailed, peer reviewed scientific papers.

    And the reason why one starts a hole with a Titleist and putts out with a Srixon (and your opponents don't know why).....well there's a grant or two just waiting to be gobbled up with that one - naturally with peer review.

  12. I would have thought it grant worthy to study why humans want to try at all to get a small ball into a distant hole by whacking it with various sticks?
    Surely we have some excellent engineers who could design a machine so one could pay money into a slot and the machine could a calculate distance and velocity or whatever guff necessary to success and propel one's ball into the receptacle for you, then you could get your exercise in a calm gentle stroll down to retrieve your previously marked ball and go to the favourite hole of all, the 19th ,for the rest of the day and enjoy conviviality!?
    Spoken by one who thought her arms would drop off --so gave it up--with all the effort after 8 holes, the first and only time the late hubby tried to introduce her to the(silly) bleedin' game

  13. This is very blokey. Perhaps there's a paper in that?

    1. The Old and Unimproved DaveNovember 1, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      Probably a Tally-Ho.....

  14. mojo, Unrepentant YankNovember 1, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    "...his five-year mission, to boldly chip where no flogger has gone before!"

  15. Professor, I believe that I can be of assistance in this matter, being an experienced, if not accomplished, golfer.

    The explanation is quite simple. Water is magnetic to golf balls. I know that sounds improbable, but I can also report something equally improbable - sand is also magnetic to golf balls, as are tree trunks. Short green grass (as on a green), on the other hand, is ballaphobic. That is to say it they repels balls with an invisible force field, not unlike two magnetic norths (or souths) brought near each other.

    1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.November 3, 2012 at 11:58 PM

      Maverick, many things in life are inexplicable. Golf is one obvious inexplicable, inexplicable even in the intellectual conceiving of it, let alone in the scientific mysteries of its execution.

      The attraction two or more electrical cords have towards creating a tangle is another well-known inexplicable. Put two laptop computers, a printer, a cable modem, a hands-free telephone base, various ipod and iphone chargers and my kindle, all together on a small tiered side table, such as at chez
      Lizzie and Ape, and there is a veritable orgy of cord tangling happening by morning. A very merry night has been had by them all.

      I'd throw water over them if I could to decouple them. Instead, I patiently work at disengaging.

      O Polonius, Polonius ... if only we knew the full physick of the universe.

      Glad you are onto it, Prof. All aboard for the gravy train once more, golf clubs at the ready as you come over the little bridge to play the 18th at St. Andrews.