Experiments

Can Golfers Clear A Tree By Hitting It With A Golf Ball?

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Blind Driving."
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Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: Insiders at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, fondly refer to a loblolly pine at the 17th hole as "Ike's Tree." President Eisenhower apparently hit golf balls into that tree so many times while playing, they bestowed the arboreal nickname in his honor. But according to golf lore, the former president should've been able to clear that pine far more often.

A famous golf saying of unknown origin states that trees are 90 percent air — that means the odds should rest in a player's favor to clear a tree that's standing between the golf ball and the green. MythBuster Tory Belleci teed off into the trees at Pebble Beach's famous golf course to find out whether the tip is really a hole-in-one.

Tory went on a golf ball hitting spree alongside the MythBusters' compressed air golf-ball launcher to see how many balls each could get past a tree that was in their way on the course. If the saying was solid, Tory and the golf ball gun could've each lobbed 90 out of 100 balls through the foliage for a 90 percent success rate. Tory bested the machine, landing 27 balls on the other side, compared to the golf ball launcher's 24.

But in this battle, the myth was the real loser. By MythBusters calculations, the golf saying should be revised to state that trees are only around 25 percent air, and golf players should revise their approach: When you encounter a tree on the links, it's probably a better bet to go around.

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