A Robotic Golf Club To (Possibly) Boost Your Game

Golf can be incredibly frustrating even for the well practiced player, and probably one of the leading causes for swearing on Saturday mornings. In effort to solve this global problem [Shane Wighton], is creating the ultimate cheat device robotic golf club, that can eliminate all the clubs in one, and adjust for the desired distance mid-swing.

Different golf clubs are mostly defined by their loft angle, or the angle at which the club face is designed to strike the ball in relation to the ground, with the purpose of changing the takeoff angle and therefor the distance traveled. To eliminate the need for different clubs, [Shane] made a head for which the loft angle can be set using a rotary encoder and display on the shaft. However building a tilting a mechanism that can survive the ±4000 lbs of force generated during impact requires some clever engineering. The first iteration was a rather impressive hydraulic design, but it required a large hydraulic power source and the pressure waves generated in the system caused the pistons in the head to blow out every time. The second iteration uses a hobby servo with a combination of machined and SLA printed parts, but in such a way that no force is transmitted to the servo at impact, similar to how a lead screw works. [Shane] actually managed to play a full 18 holes with no problems.

The second feature on the club is to adjust the loft angle mid-swing for the speed of the club to hit the ball a specified distance. A high precision IMU is used to measure the speed and angle of the club. The servo can’t move instantaneously, so it has to predict the impact velocity based on past data. Unfortunately no two swings are ever exactly the same, which introduces some error into the system.

[Shane] compared his performance over at 18 holes with the robotic club to standard clubs, and the data shows that there is an improvement, but [Shane] isn’t convinced it’s all because of the club. He hopes to do a more thorough comparison with a 500 hits, but he first wants to integrate an upgrade that can correct for slice and hook, by rotating the club’s shaft.

Like all his previous projects, [Shane] does an incredible job of explaining all the technical details and challenges involved, and were looking forward to part two. In the meantime, have a look at version 1 and version 2 of his “special” basketball hoop, and his attempts at making steel toed Crocs with wooden steel forming tools.

8 thoughts on “A Robotic Golf Club To (Possibly) Boost Your Game

    1. I do not remember, but he talks about it in depth in one of his earlier videos. Highly recommend watching the other videos on his channel. He is an outstanding engineer.

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