|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.
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!
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.