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Laser etches faces of golf clubs

19 Sep 2003

Using golf clubs with a laser-modified surface could improve your game from tee to green, claims a revolutionary US start-up.

Golfers could be the latest to benefit from laser technology, thanks to a small US firm microstructuring the surface of its drivers and putters to enhance performance.

Darin Aldrich, a keen amateur golfer with a background in materials engineering, set up Photon Golf to exploit the precise surface-altering properties of high-power lasers in golf club manufacture.

The Denver-based firm etches the faces of its golf clubs with an Nd:YAG laser to produce tiny grooves. The textured surface grips the golf ball for slightly longer than a normal club on impact, generating increased spin.

Aldrich says that the textured surface of the laser-enhanced putters and drivers improves the ‘feel’ of club on ball at impact.

In recent years, millions of golfers have bought titanium-headed drivers as their springier, larger faces send the golf ball significantly further than conventional clubs.

While major golf club brands like Callaway, Titleist and Taylor Made have concentrated on the distance their clubs can propel a ball, the modern equipment has none of the so-called ‘feel’ of an old wooden-headed driver, whose softer surface meant golfers could immediately tell whether or not they had made good contact with the ball.

“We’re combining the performance of titanium-headed drivers with the feel of a persimmon club,” Aldrich said of his drivers, which are branded with the name "Photon".

And it is not just off of the tee that the benefits of the laser-textured surface come into play, says Aldrich. Photon Golf also makes putters, the club used most often in any round of golf.

When a golf ball is struck with a standard putter, it is lofted slightly into the air. This can lead to so-called ‘skidding’, where the ball fails to roll properly, and inaccurate putting. Aldrich says that the textured surface of Photon Golf’s "YAG" putters ensures that the ball is rolling rather than skidding from the moment it is struck, which should result in more putts holed.

Aldrich says that a couple of top professionals are currently evaluating his clubs, but if you want to try them out yourself Photon Golf’s drivers are available for $249.95 while the putters retail at $89.95.

Michael Hatcher is technology editor of Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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