I truly am one of those golfers that enjoy both indoor golf clubs and exotic outdoor golf courses. But the Moon, as exotic as it may sound, is far out of my swing. When I think about the connection between golf and the Moon I can only think of one that I am too familiar with – having such a terrible swing that the balls end up in the sky. For those passionate enough to enjoy golf even if their swing could use some practice there is an amazing little story we would like to tell: How Many Golf Balls Are There On The Moon?
Imagine being in love with golf so much you take your golfing equipment to space. Sounds like a 90’s sci-fi blockbuster scenario featuring Bruce Willis who took his golf club to the Moon in order to defend the Earth. It’s not exactly how it happened but the truth on this one is out there. Bear with us.
Exactly half a century ago, Apollo 14 was America’s third successful lunar landing mission. During a nine days mission the crew had two walks on the surface, deployed several scientific experiments, collected about 90 pounds of Moon rocks and returned to Earth with an incredible story to tell.
Commander alan shepard, the man who put golf in space
At the end of the mission commander Alan Shepard, a passionate golfer, decided to perform a little space stunt and take golf to another level. Hidden under his socks, he smuggled two golf balls and his Wilson six-iron club head that he later attached to a device used to collect samples of moon dust. Just so he could practice his swing. On the Moon.
“Houston, you might recognize what I have in my hand as the contingency sample return; it just so happens to have a genuine six-iron on the bottom of it. In my left hand, I have a little white pellet that’s familiar to millions of Americans.”, Shepard said.
Shepard took his space golf club and whacked two balls into the unknown. Not quite, but we have to give the man some credit. His first swings were not as successful as he would have liked. He hit “more dirt than ball” and blamed it on the Moon’s surface, describing it as “one big sand trap”. His first ball then landed just a few feet away. Swinging one-handed in a 1970s bulky spacesuit he managed to throw the second one “miles and miles and miles” away. It truly was one giant swing for mankind. I imagine he became an icon when he returned to his favorite golf venue.
“Being a golfer, I was intrigued before the flight by the fact that the ball, with the same club hit speed, will go six times as far. I thought, what a neat place to whack a golf ball.” Shepard told a C-SPAN interviewer, shortly before his death.
The Apollo 14 command module called “Kitty Hawk” is on display at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Merritt Island, Florida while the original club Shepard used on the Moon represents one of the most popular exhibits at the USGA Gold Museum and Library in New Jersey.
Few facts about the moon
Let’s learn a few things while we’re on the subject. The leading theory is that the Moon was created about 4.5 billion years ago when a rock the size of Mars slammed into Earth shortly after the solar system began forming. The Moon is about 1/4 the size of our planet and its surface gravity is about 1/6 that of Earth’s. That said, you would jump 6 times as high or weigh 6 times less on the Moon. The weight thing makes me want to go live there. With the gravity that weak, anything you throw in the “air” would travel farther and fall more slowly to the ground. The second fact we need to take into consideration is that the Moon has a very thin atmosphere made of gas and is considered to be surrounded by vacuum, for practical purposes. As easy as it may appear to you, swinging your favorite six-iron club while wearing a heavy, rigid spacesuit on the Moon’s surface is not as easy as it would be at your golf course. That makes commander Alan Shepard our hero.
How many golf balls are there on the moon?
So how many golf balls are there on the Moon? Our answer is two. There are two golf balls on the moon. Laying in moon dust among other earthly artefacts left by the astronauts for intergalactic creatures to find. Who knows, maybe golf became the official intergalactic sport and we know nothing about it. We’re waiting for our outer space guests at our favorite indoor golf places. We know they’ll love them as much as we do.