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LaGrange Golf

A hole in L1
  (+9, -1)(+9, -1)
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Good morning, and welcome to the 6th annual Interplanetary LaGrange Golf Tournament. Conditions are near perfect today here on Ceres, and the competitors are currently updating their trajectory calculations over at the Alan B. Shepard Server Farm & Buffet Lounge.

As usual, a perpetual trophy is offered for any team whose ball achieves atmospheric re-entry on Earth, but championship points will also be awarded for other notable orbits, such as stable orbit about Ceres herself, striking another planet, planetoid or asteroid, or achieving solar escape velocity.

We are currently awaiting final orbital confirmation for eight contestants from last year's tournament, including the joint NASA/JPL/University of Mars team, who are attempting the previously thought impossible rendezvous with Halley's Comet. At last sighting, their ball was days away from the much anticipated final braking slingshot around Venus, and astronomers and golf fans throughout the solar system are eagerly scouring the heavens on every wavelength.

And it appears that - yes - the first team is ready to tee off. Jillian Halbakuri of the Essex Poly/Google Starsearchers, has suited up and is approaching the tee. Any minute now, we should receive the Searchers' trajectory nomination.

And here it is. For their first shot of the day, they have elected the relatively simple Boomerang - a Sun-Ceres L1 and return, with a degree of difficulty of 3.7 x 10^-3 , completion time of four days, and initial orbital confirmation available in under an hour. Presumably this is a calibration shot for their latest software, as it has been rumoured that the Searchers are gunning for a 10^-9 to 10^-13 by day's end, and are testing out some new, and jealously guarded, celestial dynamics algorythms.

Halbakuri selects her club; it's a 16 iron with a high manganese content and just a whiff of sodium. Nicknamed "Hawkeye", this club was milled especially for Jillian at the renowned Braun forge on Titan, and has been much admired for its precision in previous competition.

Her helmet light is lit, indicating that last-minute corrections have been uploaded to her HUD. She takes a final sighting with the manual sextant. A hush descends on the crowd in the pavillion. She approaches the tee, and addresses the Tournament-issued, regulation Ba.L.L., or ballistic long-range locator.

Ladies, gentlemen, and other, the first shot of the day, and indeed of this year's tournament, is almost upon us.

She swings ...

BunsenHoneydew, Jun 12 2009

Sandbagging http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Golf_glossary
[normzone, Jun 23 2009]

[link]






       Oh, you tees, you. [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 12 2009
  

       Are you putting us on?
normzone, Jun 12 2009
  

       Not at all. Have a look for the wikipedia article on the interplanetary superhighway, a network of ever shifting, low-energy paths linking Lagrange points througout the solar system. Once you reach one, the rest are within easy, albeit slow, reach. You can, more or less, fall from one planet to another. It's said this is how Martian rocks reach Earth once blasted from the surface, for example.   

       If you consider escape velocity on Ceres too high for a decent golf swing, then we can always choose a smaller asteroid.
BunsenHoneydew, Jun 12 2009
  

       The absolute best golfers in existence, manage to maybe a few times in their life, manage an accuracy of two inches at two hundred yards. This is essentially a multi-cushion bank shot with a golf club at several hundred million kilometers. Unless you've got millions of players, or guidance rockets on the ball, I don't think anyone's going to manage to score.
MechE, Jun 12 2009
  

       So, you're saying this is impractical? [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 12 2009
  

       I wonder how handicaps would be calculated.
normzone, Jun 12 2009
  

       [MechE] that's 200 yards under Earth gravity, with an atmosphere, and without the aid of supercomputers. In addition, a body with very low gravity should have L points correspondingly closer to the surface. The sheer gall of even attempting a multiple slingshot is reflected in the astronomical figures for degree of difficulty. Pun intended.
BunsenHoneydew, Jun 12 2009
  

       I wasn't commenting on distance, of course that will increase with lower gravity and no atmosphere. Accuracy, however, is completely unaffected by gravity and only minimally by atmospheric interference.
MechE, Jun 13 2009
  

       I hate the thought of bunning anything golf-related, but this has got Space too. OOO, ooo, what to do? []
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jun 13 2009
  

       // only minimally by atmospheric interference. //   

       We beg to differ. Atmospheric effects have a measureable impact on both high and low velocity projectiles. Even small callibre high velocity rifle rounds are still subject to windage effects, and air density (dependant on temperature) and wind significantly affects the path of artillery rounds.   

       So, you're proposing launching a small, dense, unguided projectile on a very long orbital path, based on a human's ability to convert complex mathematical information into muscle movements ? Do you realise how much damage this could do ? Definite [+].   

       Oh, and don't play golf on Mars - the whole place is just one damned great sand trap ....
8th of 7, Jun 15 2009
  

       Are you sure about those degrees of difficulty? 3.7 x 10^-3 is a very small number, unless it's the probability of success.
K o R, Jun 15 2009
  

       Yes, I dithered for a while about whether to express those as very, very small or very, very large numbers.
BunsenHoneydew, Jun 23 2009
  

       Ah, sandbagging, were you?
normzone, Jun 23 2009
  

       I grew up not far from Lagrange, Indiana. Not surprisingly it is in the middle of nowhere and difficult to escape from if you're born there. I have a mind to rename it L6.
RayfordSteele, Jun 24 2009
  

       As I understand it, most LaGrange points (or more correctly, LaGrange orbits) are inherently and chaotically unstable - they are thus not only easy to escape from, they more or less lose inhabitants spontaneously, exiting via one of the low-energy superhighways to Elsewhere.   

       Still sound familiar?
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 27 2009
  

       Or, even more correctly, "Lagrange points" or "Lagrange orbits".
coprocephalous, Sep 28 2009
  
      
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