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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Now Even the Greens Have COR

Finally! The US Women's Open at Pinehurst gets underway today, and I thought I was prepared for almost anything.

But I'll admit that I didn't expect the USGA to be adjusting the Coefficient of Restitution of the greens.

Golf ball bouncing

COR -- or the Trampoline Effect, if you prefer -- is a scientific term that refers to how a collision between two objects affects their relative speed. Until this pair of Opens, I thought it had one specific meaning when golfers used it -- namely, the "bounce" between a golf ball and the face of a golf club.

Then Wednesday I heard that the USGA is setting the COR of the greens. Yeah, I know greens can be firm or soft... but the USGA actually has a device that measures firmness, much the same way as a stimpmeter measures speed. (And yes, it bounces a ball off the green and they measure the bounce.) Plus they can set the firmness and speed independently. Supposedly, the USGA is making the greens at Pinehurst a bit less bouncy to compensate for the reduced spin the women create.

Is it just me, or is the use of technology approaching the absurd? I can only wonder how soon it will be before the fairways are tested -- balls bounce on them too, you know.

If only they could find as clear a way to differentiate between bunkers and waste areas! ;-)

Although we don't know what the COR of the greens will be, we do know that they'll be stimping at a speedy 13 -- the same as the men saw last week and faster than the women typically see at any event. Again, this is supposed to give us a better comparison between the women's play and the men's... and some wonder how the women will measure up.

In fact, the media asked Cristie Kerr that very question, and I like her take on whether the comparison is a losing proposition for the gals. She just laughed and said “I don’t think it’s a losing proposition, I think we’re better looking."

One other note, for all you Juli Inkster fans out there: Juli has announced that this will be her last major, so you'll want to be sure and catch this one! ESPN2 will have the first and second rounds from 3pm-7pm ET today and tomorrow.

The photo came from this cool blog post on the physics of golf at the µ-sings on Physics blog. And for those of you who didn't catch the Greek joke, that's pronounced Musings on Physics.