Bibliography and Resources

Dave Tutelman

Here are a bunch of my favorite reference works. Not all are books, and not all are readily available. The list is annotated with their availability (where I know it), as well as my summary and assessment of the work.

Alastair Cochran & John Stobbs, "The Search for the Perfect Swing". Originally published by the Golf Society of Great Britain in 1968, it has been reprinted frequently. My own copy is a 1994 reprint (and personally signed by Alastair Cochran; see my "road trip" article for an account of that).

If you read no other book or article on golf physics you must read this! It is old, but the information is as correct now as it was when written with very few exceptions. It is well-illustrated, and explains things in terms that are very easy to understand. Buy it, read it, read it again, understand it, and use it as a first reference for all your questions. It won't answer them all, but it's the best place to start.

Theodore Jorgensen, "The Physics of Golf". American Institute of Physics Press, with several printings in the 1990s. Ted Jorgensen was Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Nebraska. He got involved with golf, and researched the physics behind a few of the important phenomena in the game. Among the most prominent things in the book are:
  • Instrument a good golfer and record his swing in excruciating detail. This was done largely with reflective tape on the golfer's joints and key places on the club, and taking a sequence of strobe photos of the swing. Then everything about the swing was plotted: angles, positions, accelerations and velocities. Using this data...
  • Construct an analytical model of the swing that corresponds to the recorded data. This was done using the basics of physics, and a pretty complex set of differential equations. The model was "tweaked" until it corresponded to reality very closely.
  • Determine the resultant path of a golf ball struck by a clubface. (I think this was the origination of the "D-plane" concept.)
  • Describe matching a set of irons simultaneously for total weight, swingweight, and moment of inertia.
The math and physics in the book is pretty dense; it's not an easy read, unless you consider college physics texts an easy read. I am told that the more recent printings have been edited for consumption by non-physicists, but I haven't seen the new edition myself. (Newsflash: I now have one of the more recent printings: 1999. It is a bit easier read, but you still better have your mind wrapped around physics and math if you want to "get it".)

Homer Kelley, "The Golfing Machine". Star System Press, 1969-1982. Kelley analyzed the swing as if the human body were a machine. It is a very hard book to read, because:
  1. Kelley invented his own terminology, and uses it rather than common golf idiom. Some of the invention was necessary, but hardly all.
  2. Everything is cross-indexed on a very complete but complex system for numbering chapters. It is hard to get further than a couple of paragraphs without having to skip many pages to another chapter.
  3. In many places, you need a good sense of physics and an excellent sense of spatial visualization. Kelley doesn't make it any easier; the pictures are few and most are not all that helpful.
That said, there are a lot of nuggets for those willing to pan through the silt. BTW, his book seems to be largely misunderstood even by its enthusiastic adherents. Instructors who claim to be TGM (The Golfing Machine) teachers tend to read the book as, "this is the one true way." I prefer to think of it as the menu in a Chinese restaurant:
  • The menu has combination plates, where you name the plate and it determines everything you get. No substitution, no choices, just the #6 Combination Plate.
  • The menu also has family dinners, where you pick one from column A, one from column B, and select your soup.
TGM teachers tend to look at the book as the selection of combination plates, and conclude that Kelley recommends Combination Plate #12-1-0. But, as I read the book, it is a family dinner. There are lots of combinations of grip, plane angle, pressure point combination, etc. Many of them will work well together, though some combinations are incompatible.

Jack Nicklaus, "Golf My Way". Fireside Books, 1974. Nicklaus had a lot of opinions about clubfitting and golf mechanics, some of which were well before their time. I certainly don't agree with everything in the book, but I'll draw on things I do agree with.

Tom Wishon, "The Golfsmith Practical Clubfitting Program". Golfsmith International, 1996. This classic book has become one of the source references for the Professional Clubmakers Association certification exam. It is now out of print, and Wishon has a more recent and very good book....

Tom Wishon, "Common Sense Clubfitting". Tom Wishon Golf Technology, 2006. This picks up what he has learned about clubfitting in the decade since his previous book.

Tom Wishon & Jeff Summitt, "The Modern Guide to Shaft Fitting". Dynacraft, 1992. To my knowledge, this was the first serious, quantitative, public study of golf shafts. It makes pretty dense reading, but there is a lot of good, practical information there. It is a bit dated now, because graphite shafts were pretty much in their commercial infancy when it was written. When last I looked, the entire book was downloadable from Hireko Golf's web site. (Dynacraft is now a division of Hireko.)

Adam Young, "The Practice Manual", 2015. This book takes us through a lot of what is known about motor learning, and incorporates it into a guide for how to practice in order to become a better golfer as efficiently as possible. A key example is the difference among block practice (doing the same thing over and over until you can repeat all the time), random practice (doing something different every swing, deliberately), and differential practice (trying for extremes on every swing); each has its place in getting better.

Bill Gobush, "Spin and the Inner Workings of a Golf Ball". Article in "Golf The Scientific Way", a collection of articles edited by Alastair Cochran and published by the Aston Publishing Group in the early 1990s. Gobush is a researcher at Titleist, and is one of the worlds exerts in measuring and modeling golf ball behavior.

The article looks at what happens to the ball at impact, and how that imparts spin to the ball. It shows how the design of the core of the ball can affect how much spin results from impact.

Seisuke Tomita & Toshio Chikaraishi, "Effect of Different Dimple Patterns on Flight"
. Article in "Golf The Scientific Way", a collection of articles edited by Alastair Cochran and published by the Aston Publishing Group in the early 1990s. Tomita and Chikaraishi are researchers for Bridgestone.

The article looks at how the design of dimples on a golf ball affect the lift and drag of the ball, and thus the trajectory and distance.

"Clubmaker magazine". This is published by Golfsmith on a roughly bimonthly basis. Until the mid-1990s, they had some good technical articles in it. After 1994 or so, they did away with the technical articles in favor of articles on shop practice, the business of clubmaking, and product announcements. I no longer receive it, and don't miss it since it has gotten consistently "softer" since then.

Among the articles I clipped and still refer to:
  • Howard Butler (then R&D director for True Temper) wrote an article on "Moment of Inertia: How does it affect clubhead performance?" It included some good graphs showing losses from off-center hits, for clubheads of different MOI. It probably appeared in 1993; I don't know for sure because Clubmaker did not put dates on their page headers.
  • Frank Werner and Richard Greig (the principals of Tech-Line) wrote a four-part series in 1992, "Golf Putters and Technology". It is the best, most thorough piece of research on putters I've seen. (I also like their Tech-Line putter; I have two, and they have been my go-to putters over the years.)

"Golf Digest magazine"
. For the most part, Golf Digest magazine's equipment articles tend to be puff pieces which reflect the fact that it get a lot of revenue from golf club ads. But every now and then they slip up and let an interesting and minimally biased article appear. A few that I liked:
  • Ed Weathers of True Temper wrote an article "What Flex Do You Need?", which introduced the non-insider world to the ShaftLab and what it was telling researchers about shaft selection. It was in the November 1994 issue.
  • An article appeared in the December 1986 issue on the truth about groove shape. It reported some detailed tests to quantify the effects of square grooves vs V-grooves.

Trajectory programs: There are several computer programs available to convert impact information into a full trajectory for the shot -- including (most importantly) the carry distance. In January of 2007, one of my studies using trajectory software was called into question because the program I used did not give accurate results. So I did a detailed study of the available trajectory programs, which you can read.

The programs I use in my own work are:
  • TrajectoWare Drive, which Frank Schmidberger and I jointly developed, after seeing the results of the comparison study. It is available as freeware from
  • Max Dupilka's "Golfball Trajectory Model", version 2.0.0, released in 2006. Max has given permission for me to make it downloadable from my web site. I would prefer your request include the reason that TrajectoWare Drive does not meet your needs.
  • Tom Wishon's "Trajectory Profiler", version 2.0, released in 2005. This may be purchased from Tom Wishon Golf Technology.
I was one of, or the only, primary tester for all three programs, so I know them fairly well. Here are some comparisons:
  • TrajectoWare Drive is the most accurate of the three for spins produced by drivers. It is completely useless for spins produced by middle and short irons.
  • The Dupilka program allows the widest variety of "what if" input, to see what happens at extremes of clubhead speed, altitude, ball characteristics, etc. The Wishon program only allows input of "realistic" values -- useful for a clubmaker but not for a researcher.
  • All three programs allow input of impact parameters (clubhead and ball mass, loft, clubhead speed, angle of attack). The Wishon program allows, as an alternative, input of launch conditions (ball speed, launch angle, and spin), but does not tell you what impact conditions would create those launch conditions. TrajectoWare Drive has the best interface for this purpose, it allows input of either launch or impact conditions, and computes the other set of conditions on the fly.
  • The Wishon program has a mode in which the program steps either the launch angle or the spin (and just those two parameters), looking for a maximum distance. TrajectoWare Drive supports "sliding" any input parameter (including launch angle or spin), and observing the change in trajectory. The "slide" is accomplished with the scroll wheel or cursor keys. So you can do the same sort of optimization with a little more manual intervention (but it goes very quickly), using any parameter and any optimization criterion.
  • TrajectoWare Drive deals with three dimensions: horizontal (slice and hook) as well as vertical trajectory.

Spreadsheet programs: I use a few spreadsheets (all compatible with Microsoft Excel) in my club design and analysis work.
  • Carey Winquist's "Club Designer", version 1.2a, released in 2001. I have permission to make it downloadable from my web site. I use it to try out head/shaft/grip combinations to see the swingweight and moment of inertia of the resulting club. It is one of the best and most careful swingweight programs I've seen.

Other programs:
  • Max Dupilka's "SwingPerfect" program, version 2.0, released in 2017. Like Max's "Golfball Trajectory Model" it is now downloadable from my web site. (Thanks for the permission to do that, Max.) Based on the Jorgensen model of the swing, this takes club parameters and a time profile of the forces the golfer applies, and turns them into a picture of the downswing. The numerical output is the clubhead speed and residual wrist cock angle (approximately the attack angle) at impact, as well as efficiency and elapsed time.

Last modified - Feb 6, 2022