The Harsco Science Center will be closed Saturday, September 21 with no documentaries in the Select Medical Digital Cinema. Whitaker Center will be opened to the public for the 2019 HUE Invitational. Read More »
Whitaker Center
Central PA’s Nonprofit Center for the Arts

FORE: The Science Behind Mini-Golf

June 22 - September 8, 2019

FORE: The Science Behind Mini-Golf is a temporary exhibit inside Harsco Science Center where families will enjoy nine holes of mini-golf while exploring STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles related to golf. This exhibit, along with TINKERTOY®: Build Your Imagination™ are included in Harsco Science Center admission through September 8.

Visitors to FORE: The Science Behind Mini-Golf will discover how a variety of STEM applications are used to design golf courses and play the game of golf:

Engineering the Game of Golf

Engineering is the application of scientific and mathematical knowledge to build nearly everything we see around us. Through the years, golf equipment has been engineered to produce clubs that are lighter and balls that fly farther.


Aerodynamics are the properties of a solid object regarding the manner in which air flows around it. The three forces that act on a golf ball in motion are lift, drag, and weight.  These forces affect how far it will travel down the fairway of a golf course. Most round objects (like a golf ball) are more aerodynamic and have less drag than objects with flat surfaces (like a cube).

Friction: A Force that Opposes Motion

When the head of a golf club hits the ball, the force of friction grabs the ball and spins it backward. The roughness on the face of the club increases friction, causing the ball to spin more.  A rolling ball eventually stops because friction between the ball and the ground brings it to a stop. When a lofted club strikes a golf ball accurately, the ball will tend to roll up the clubface before it launches.

The Speed of Golf

Some people think golf is a slow game, but it clocks some of the highest speeds in the world of sports! Hitting a ball hundreds of yards into a tiny hole with the least strokes possible requires some serious speed.


Bounce describes the instance of an object being moved up and down. Energy has a lot to do with bounce. An object high above the ground has potential energy because of the work it took to get it there and the work it will take to fall down. When a ball is dropped, its potential energy is changed into kinetic energy. The friction against the ground slows the ball down, but it also slightly heats the ball. This is thermal energy.  The ball bounces back up but to a lower height than where it started. The original potential energy was transformed into thermal energy.



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