Golf balls were hit on the moon and now we know how far they went

Still, wondering where those golf balls finished up on the moon? Well, wonder no longer.

The locations of the golf balls on the moon. (Image: Andy Saunders)

In 1971, astronaut Alan Shepherd hit a few golf balls on the moon with an improvised golf club – the head of a 6-iron attached to the tool he was using to collect moon rocks.

You can see Shepherd hitting the golf balls one-handed due to the stiff astronaut suit in the video above. The first of three shots were a little heavier than he would have liked, but Shepherd hit the next two well and claimed to have hit the golf balls “miles and miles and miles”.

 

But until now, we’ve never really known how far the golf balls went or where they finished up.

Mark Zastrow at Astronomy has summarized the work of an image specialist who has examined the photos taken by the astronauts and video taken from the lunar module to piece together where the golf balls lay to rest.

And it seems the golf balls didn’t go very far at all.

Saunders managed to identify not only Shepard’s golf balls, but also his footprints from his stance and his divots. By comparing these to more recent satellite images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Saunders was able to measure the distance on Shepard’s second shot. The result? A rather tame 40 yards (120 feet).

Still, that’s not bad for a one-handed bunker shot taken while wearing a bulky spacesuit in weak gravity. Plus, it served as one of the Apollo program’s most memorable moments. When asked about the shot at a post-flight Congressional hearing, Shepard quipped, “I did this since I am patriotic and concerned about the security of the nation.”

Tip of the hat to RKImage for sharing this article with us.

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