Golf isn’t the type of sport that suffers exaggerators lightly; its near-clinical obsession with rules and precision leaves little to the whimsical machinations of a wandering mind. There is but one “longest par 4 everrr,” and it’s not that uphill 466-yarder at your local open course. So when DEVIL BALL GOLF declares a hole “quite simply the most amazing golf hole on the planet” (in the article’s headline, no less), well, we pay attention.
That’s the green of the “19th hole” at the Legends Golf & Safari Resort in South Africa. Sure, a green in the shape of a continent is pretty cool, but it’s hardly amazing. Oh, but did we mention it’s over 1/4 of a mile (1,410 feet) below the tee? And that you need a helicopter to get to the tee and back? Because that’s a pretty important detail.
DBG found footage at ONE EYED GOLFER of Padraig Harrington and Raphael Jacquelin playing the hole (and it’s dated February 23, so there’s no April Foolery going on here), which is below the jump. We’ll just say this: Padraig, you are the man.
Now, you’re probably wondering what hell that would wreak on the green; what would they use for divots, you might wonder, a backhoe? Turns out that as golf balls go, 1,410 feet isn’t very significant.
(By the way, a math/physics lesson follows. If that makes your head hurt, we understand; here’s that Cowgirl with the half-milly PLAYBOY offer again).
Despite the fact that the golf ball drops over a quarter of a mile, it doesn’t continue to accelerate the entire way. Like with anything of mass on Earth, a golf ball has a terminal velocity, or maximum speed at which it can fall toward the ground. Moreover, since it’s essentially spherical and subject to rigorously precise measurements, its terminal velocity can be (relatively) easily measured. All the heavy lifting is here, but the answer is that the t.v. is met at about 31.25 meters per second, which comes about 23 seconds into the ball’s descent; the ball takes about 29 seconds to fall at the 19th Hole, by way of comparison. So yes, the ball is falling as fast as it possibly can when it hits the green.
But there’s two things worth mentioning here. One, the ball is well past 99% of the way to t.v. by the 10th second of descent (pops to spreadsheet); any further acceleration is minimal (by the way, keep that graph open, because we’re using it later). But getting back to the point, the ball gets moving in a hurry. Second, the ball falls a long way on this hole, but it already falls a long way on all but the shortest approach shots to the green.
So let’s compare it to a regular shot from a 9-iron. If you’re interested in finding out how high a shot from 9-iron usually goes, we do not really recommend WIKIANSWERS.COM, who “answered” the question thusly:
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Okay then. A slightly more precise answer to that question is that if a 9 iron goes 120 yards, it’s likely to go up almost 150 feet into the air (heavy lifting here, pops to .doc). And while that mark pales in comparison to 1410 feet, obviously, it’s enough to get the ball most of the way to t.v.
In fact, according to the graph above (did you keep it open? DID YOU?!), at 3.27 seconds, which is approximately how long it takes a golf ball to fall 148.5 feet, the velocity is -24.155 meters per second. Considering t.v. is -31.25 m/s, a golf ball from atop the (sigh) Xtreme 19th Hole–or even, for that matter, from a mile or two higher–is only travelling less than 30% faster than if it was just lofted from a 9-iron.
Now, a 30% change in velocity is no small matter; it’s the difference between being plunked in the ribs by a fastball from Jamie Moyer and from Kenny Powers, for example. But we’re not talking about speeds that high. 24.155 m/s is a hair over 54 mph, while 31.25 m/s is just under 70 mph. Taking a golf ball at those speeds would hurt. A lot. But 16 miles per hour here or there… ehh.
So no, the green doesn’t resemble a bombed out airport runway in Baghdad, nor must the area be legally classified as a war zone with incoming ordnance signaled by klaxon. Sure, your divots might be a bit bigger, but only just a bit.
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