NBC is currently in production of its second collection of the “Science of Golf” program, which is a section of the critically acclaimed “Science of Sports” online series. The webisodes are sponsored by USGA and Chevron and feature anchor Dan Hicks alongside rotating guest hosts. In the past, the program has featured professional golfers like Drew Weaver, as well as recent participants in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Golf Open at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen.
“Science of Golf” is just one of many programs under NBC Learn’s “Science of Sports” series. The idea for “Science of Sports” was first formulated in 2009 during discussions with the National Science Foundation. The goal was to produce a multi-part video series that would be educational and engaging for middle school and high school students, and demonstrate that the science, technology, engineering, and math concepts that they learn in school are applicable and present in the real world. The show was an immediate success, winning an Emmy award in 2010 after the first two collections, “Science of the Olympic Winter Games” and “Science of NFL Football” launched. Since then, NBC has also produced collections focusing on golf, NHL Hockey, and the Summer Olympics.
The show breaks down many of the core concepts of golf and other sports into basic mathematical and scientific concepts. Some episodes feature the science of actual gameplay, such as analyzing the work, power, and energy of a putt, or the torque and centripetal force present in a drive, or the friction and spin necessary for a chip shot. Others focus on the engineering side of the game, such as the technological concepts that go into creating ideal golf balls, golf clubs, and course conditions.
“I’d agree that what athletes are doing in the moment of their performance mostly comes down to instinct and training,” Mark Miano, senior producer of NBC Learn, admitted. But, while “athletes may not be thinking about Newtown’s Third Law as they take their swing… there is no question that science is a part of everything they are doing in the sport of golf.”
“While their performance in the moment may be instinctual,” Miano added, “they have reached their awesome abilities only after thousands of hours of practice, studying, coaching, and game play. They know why torque is vital to their swing, they know how important friction and spin are to controlling their shots, and they can do things like calculate a handicap index, which isn’t easy!”
Beyond the “Science of Sports” series, NBC Learn has produced many other original educational videos, such as “Sustainability: Water,” “Chemistry NOW,” “Science behind the News” and “Science of Innovation.” NBC also oversees two subscription databases as part of their educational initiative. The website www.archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12 is geared towards K-12, while www.highered.nbclearn.com/portal/site/HigherEd is for students of higher education.
Miano encourages people to explore these resources, explaining “these subscription databases contain nearly 15,000 stories from the NBC News Archives— one of the largest news archives in the world, dating back to the 1920s. In addition, collections are updated with current events every day, Monday through Friday, with stories from such celebrated programs as “NBC Nightly News,” the “TODAY” show, “Meet the Press,” “Dateline NBC,” as well as the networks of MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo. “They are amazing, innovative educational websites and I would urge parents, teachers and students to check it out. If your school is a member of the Eastern Suffolk BOCES School Library System, there’s a strong likelihood you may already have access.”
The “Science of Golf” videos can be viewed at www.nbclearn.com/science-of-golf.