Engineer and inventor Bob Zider, originator of the Alternative Golf Association, is always testing the outer limits on what is possible. His first job was in the Advanced Engines Group at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, working on the jet engines of the future.
Zider specializes in materials, and without much prompting at all he’ll show you some that are four times as springy as steel and titanium – materials the USGA would rather you didn’t see. Can’t help but wonder what’s hiding in his garage that has implications for future Flogton games.
Read along for an interpretation of Zider’s high-tech analysis on what’s Flogton-friendly on today’s market, and what might someday be able to help the average player. Then share your own ideas about futuristic Flogton.
Available now: Some of the nonconforming clubs offer slight improvement, but usually they are just barely nonconforming – not far off the USGA limits on COR (0.83) and size (460) – in hopes that they could sneak under the USGA radar. (Non-propeller-heads, hang in there for a minute for a translator-aided explanation of COR.)
Probably the best aid right now is a low-friction face, created by either lubricating the face of the club and ball or by applying a stick-on face to the driver. By simply reducing the face/ball friction, you can reduce slices and hooks by more than 50 percent.
Flogton future: OK, so here’s that promised explanation. When two objects collide, there’s a result that’s measured by the coefficient of restitution (COR). If the objects stick together, the COR might drop to zero. If one stops and the other takes off with the force of the collision, the COR might reach 1.0. Flogton players don’t want zero and can’t reach 1.0 because the materials are different.
But maybe COR could reach .92. And the drive is a combination of COR, head speed and ball/face interaction – the latter two seemingly without limitation. Flogton’s objective is to increase the distance and accuracy of a drive 25 percent for normal swing speeds of 80-100 mph. That technology isn’t on the market yet, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be if we build shafts more aerodynamically and heads without restriction on size, shape and hosel.
Available now: New irons promise us wider sweet spots for the inevitable mis-hit and more aggressive grooves for spin. Does the performance match the marketing though?
Flogton future: Clubs exist that maintain distance for off-center hits. (USGA-approved clubs lose up to 10 percent of their distance if they’re hit only half an inch off true center, which is pretty good by mis-hit standards.) And we’ve got some iron faces in R&D right now ready to improve your spin by 100 percent so that you can stop the ball on the green.
Available now: You can still find aggressive grooves for spin. Some companies, including Feel, have decided to keep making the grooved wedges no longer in the USGA’s favor, but those are not far off the standards for conformance.
Flogton future: Test players truly got a kick out of experimenting with different-faced wedges for spin. As with irons, we can improve spin 100 percent with technology that’s just waiting to be mass produced. And who knows what might work best for hitting out of a bunker – a club with a little shovel on the end?
Available now: There’s no reason Flogton players shouldn’t carry along three different putters and if one wasn’t being nice you could just use a different one. Or you could use one putter for long putts and another for short putts. It’s also fine to use one of the laser alignment training putters for Flogton. But there are even better things ahead.
Flogton future: The engineers could improve off-center performance, develop putters that are actually more effective for longer or shorter putts, and create custom graphics for an individual stroke. Maybe croquet style putting with a croquet-stick-style putter would work for some people.
Ever notice how your putting changes as the day wears on? You’ve had to adjust to changes in the putter-ball impact due to temperature changes. (A cold ball loses 10 percent distance because it hardens as the temperature falls. And a polymer face on a putter, such as industry leader Odyssey, undergoes the same transformation, compounding the effect.) The putter of the future could actually soften as the temperature drops.
Available now: There are some nonconforming balls on the market but they offer marginal distance improvement, For accuracy, there’s the asymmetrical dimple pattern Polara to reduce hook and slice, and the option to lubricate club face and ball. Probably the best option for Flogton players using the existing product is to change balls to match the shot – one ball for the drive and fairway wood, a different ball for irons and wedges to spin to the green, and a third ball for putting.
Flogton future: Balls could be made specifically for distance, for accuracy, for spin, for putting. Putting balls could be different for long putts than for short putts. Balls could have no surface patterns, or different patterns, and could even be nonspherical. And how about “dead” balls that you’d use with a full swing from 20, 30 or 40 yards out?
Does any of this technology sound like something you’d want? Have something else in mind? Click here to share your comments, we’ll be sure the inventors see them. Or, you can click here for a list of nonconforming equipment on the market now.