Tee-ing Off

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The amount of physics involved in tee-ing off is amazing. The impact between the ball and club lasts for only about 450 millionths of a second, but the results of this impact can be incredible. For example, Tiger Woods can get the ball moving with an initial velocity of about 180 miles per hour. The process of driving the ball involves all three of Newton's laws, as well as conservation of both mass and energy.
Initially the ball is sitting at rest on the tee. It does not move because no net force is being exerted on it. This is an application of Newton's first law, which states that an object with no net force acting on it will move with a constant velocity, which in this case is zero meters per second. As a golfer starts the swing, chemical energy from the golfer's body is being converted to mechanical energy which goes into the club. As the club head makes impact with the golf ball several physics applications are involved. First of all the ball is no longer at rest because the club is exerting a force on it. Based on Newton's second law we know that force is equal to mass multiplied by acceleration. The harder the club is swung the greater the force exerted on the ball will be. Since mass is constant we can then conclude that the harder the swing, the faster the ball will accelerate. Newton's third law also comes into play upon impact. The law states that  for every action force there is an equal and opposite reaction force. When the club head exerts a force on the ball, the ball exerts the same size force in the opposite direction on the club. The force of the club accelerates the ball, and the force of the ball slows down the club. Because the club is more massive than the ball, the effects of this reaction force is not nearly so noticeable as the force the club exerts on the ball. The collision between club and ball is approximately elastic, meaning that both energy and momentum will be conserved. Part of the energy and momentum are transferred to the golf ball, causing it to sail dow fairway. The rest is still associated with the club, causing the golfer to follow through after the collision.

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