David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Par for the Course

July 2004:  Here's Where It All Started!


David Fleming, division chair, English & more

Gary Franchy, division chair, mathematics


This week we begin a series of the Ask the 'experts' columns.  This is your chance to ask us questions regarding communication and quantitative analysis.  This is also your chance to suggest a better name for this column than Ask the 'experts'.

(FYI: Although we have no official prizes for the winner, Gary has offered a dead red pen from his red pen graveyard.)

Oddly enough, there have been no questions yet, so instead we present a slightly, but only slightly, embellished conversation we had the other week that is in keeping with this column.

Dave:  Gary, this week I had the chance to play a gorgeous golf course in Pennsylvania.  The 7th tee was at the top of a mountain with an incredible view of the Alleghany River below.  (Hunter Station, Hole #7)

This hole is listed as 167 yards, but there is a 146 feet vertical drop to the green.  The sign at the tee said that we must also account for the wind.  How in the heck do I begin to assess what club to play?

Gary:  Do you really want me to get into that?

Dave:  Sure, why not?

Gary:  One word: parabolas.

Dave:  Zoinks!

Gary:  And that's before we even factor in air-resistance.

Dave:  Not to mention the wind.

Gary:  I didn't.

Dave:  Didn't what?

Gary:  Mention the wind.

Dave:  Stop that!

Gary:  Sorry. 

Dave:  Isn't there another way to approach this besides going neck deep into physics equations?  It's not like I carry an anemometer with me and I'm sure there are all sorts of other variables that I would have no way to measure.

Gary:  Don't like the theoretical approach?  No problem, try an experimental one.  Take a bunch of practice shots with different clubs until you find the best one for distance and then start adjusting your aim left or right depending on the wind.

Dave:  I try to do that anyway, Gary, but usually the people I'm playing with don't allow me to take more than the first shot.

Gary:  I will admit that such a strategy would defeat the whole challenge of golf, but I wanted to make you aware of that option.

Dave:  My nephew works on that course.  I suppose he could let me out one early morning and allow me to hack away, but what's the less expensive, still-can-sleep-in way to do this?

Gary:  Since I've seen you golf, I think I can safely say that it really doesn't matter.  Just pull a random club out of your bag and hit it.

Dave:  You are too kind.  By the way, you're no Tiger Woods either.

Gary:  True, but my cost per shot ratio is fantastic.  I must ask; how did you play that hole?

Dave:  I pulled out the 8 iron, topped the tee shot, as I usually do, watched the ball fall off the edge, hit the cart path, bounce high in the air, hit the cart path again, bounce a little less, hit the cart path a third time, and saw the ball roll to a stop just before the front of the green.

Gary:  Sounds like a good play all around.  And did you par it?

Dave:  Of course not, I three putted and hurled my putter the rest of the way down the mountain.

Gary:  Did you account for the wind?

Dave:  Go away.