Kids enjoy learning science through golf

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Kids enjoy learning science through golf

It’s not every day that a young golfer has the opportunity to experience the game in a way that unlocks their already well-developed interest in math and science. Yet that is just what happened during the first-ever Learning Science Through Golf Academy, an innovative, three-day program that brought 24 First Tee participants from around the country this summer to the USGA headquarters in New Jersey.

The high school students selected to participate in the academy hailed from 16 states and represented 21 First Tee chapters. While many of them were meeting each other and visiting the USGA for the first time, they had a shared interest in science and math, as well as a love of the game through their involvement with The First Tee.

The centerpiece of the academy was the time the students spent in the USGA Research & Test Center. Here, they got a first-hand look at how the USGA’s engineers test golf equipment for conformance to the Rules – and were given what equated to a thesis project.

“We’re kind of science nerds here, and we love getting excited about this stuff and showing kids that science can be fun,” said John Spitzer, the USGA’s managing director of equipment standards.

The students learned about the Stimpmeter, a device used to measure green speeds. They were then split into small groups and issued a challenge: duplicate a Stimpmeter that works in a more predictable and repeatable way. The designs and ideas were as varied as the students themselves, and all prototypes were tested on a variety of surfaces, including outdoors on the USGA’s Pynes Putting Course. In the end, a device that used a pendulum to strike a golf ball took home the grand prize.

While the project was a competition, everyone came out a winner during this memorable three-day academy.

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