Ryder Cup: The Technology of Choking

September 28, 2012

__Seeing all these somewhat unusual misses during Friday's Ryder Cup matches got me thinking about choking and specifically how fine the line is to properly execute a golf shot. Put it this way, the players on both sides may be a little nervous at the first tee or the 18th green, but if they knew how small their margin of error was for hitting a good shot in golf, they'd even feel worse.

I dug up a report from Fredrik Tuxen, the brilliant mind behind the Trackman ballflight monitoring system. In this study, he suggests that if you miss the center of the face by the width of one dimple, a 250-yard shot will miss its target by 10 yards to the right. (That effect obviously gets worse the farther you hit it. And, oh by the way, a dimple measures about one-eighth of an inch.) Tuxen's research also notes that an off-center miss of half an inch on a driver leads to a shot that flies 35 yards right of its target.

In putting, it gets worse, at least according to equipment guru Ralph Maltby. A 1-degree open face angle would miss a 7-foot putt to the right.How much off of square is a 1-degree open face angle? Maybe a millimeter.

Food for thought as you watch the best players in the world struggle with pressure this weekend at the Ryder Cup.