Bomb & GougeOctober 20, 2009

Hot List Summit Day 2: Say what?

MESQUITE, Nev. -- When a six-pack of scientists assembles to discuss technology, the conversation occasionally takes unexpected turns that are marginally off topic, but entirely worthy of discussion, often for their entertainment value alone. But when this happens, those without their Ph.Ds are advised to bring along an interpreter.

Such was the case on day two of Golf Digest's annual Hot List Summit at the CasaBlanca Resort here on Monday.

The scientists are brought in for a two-day session to help the four Hot List judges better evaluate the technology in golf clubs and balls. One particular topic of discussion was the weight of putters and how a heavier one might help promote a pendulum stroke.

One of the scientists then noted a colleague who had studied how the muscles used in the putting stroke respond under pressure and something called galvanic skin response. Time for the interpreter.

Galvanic skin response is used to measure your sweat-gland activity in stressful situations as a way of better understanding how the body is reacting under pressure.

This wasn't the only foreign language spoken on this day. These terms also surfaced: doppler shift of spin rate, lift coefficient, kinematic assumption, and computational fluid dynamics. All in the name of understanding how a golf club might help deliver a golf ball to a distant target.

Other topics of discussion included putters designed to decrease, or even eliminate, a ball's backspin and skid coming off the putter face; adjustable hosels in drivers; and how advancements in driver technology almost always trickle down to fairway woods, hybrids and in some cases even irons.

What ultimately seemed to amuse the boffins most, however, were the six equations that actually were printed on a high-tech shaft they were inspecting. Of course, only a small group (including the scientists gathered in this CasaBlanca Resort meeting room) could comprehend their meaning. They were accurate equations, too, they happily reported.

On deck, meanwhile, is a panel of equipment retailers from around the country, who on Tuesday and Wednesday will delve into marketing and business issues, discussions that in a troubled economy take on heightened importance.

-- John Strege