Computer simulations show tricky wind dynamics at play at Augusta National

March 16, 2016
A picture of Johns Hopkins engineering professors Rajat Mittal and Neda Yaghoobian

Rajat Mittal (left) and Neda Yaghoobian

Engineers at Johns Hopkins University have devised a computer model to help unravel the wicked wind conditions that test the world’s greatest golfers at Augusta National Golf Club, home to The Masters each April.

Rajat Mittal, an aerodynamics expert and professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins, developed the model with Neda Yaghoobian, a postdoctoral visiting scholar on his lab team. The system, based on computational fluid dynamics, incorporates wind conditions and information on tree canopies to evaluate, and even predict, how the wind’s direction and speed are likely to affect the accuracy of a golf shot on any particular hole. The researchers also used computer simulations to explore the impact of factors such as spin and launch angle on the flight of the golf ball.

For their proof-of-concept research, the team collected data from the famed par-3 12th hole at Augusta, known as Golden Bell. Though the hole is the shortest on the course, it is subject to unpredictable winds that swirl over and around the surrounding tree canopies. It also features a shallow, well-protected green—fronted by a water hazard and bracketed by three sand traps—that often punishes errant shots. Excerpted from The Hub. Read the complete story.

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