Golf adopts Formula One Technology in Unique Williams License Agreement
Williams F1 announced today that is has entered into a unique license agreement with Williams Sports, a US golf equipment company. Williams Sports has a very successful background in the golf business, building one of the most successful golf club companies in the industry during the mid to late 2000's, while producing golf equipment that was used to win 44 times on PGA Tours worldwide. Combining Williams F1's engineering capability with the established golf club design and production experience of the team at Williams Sports, will create a partnership that will advance golf club designs to a new level in 2010 and beyond.
The purpose of the partnership is to inject Williams F1's Formula One technology into the design and manufacture of Williams Sports' golfing equipment. The initial areas of technical partnership are in the aerodynamic profiling of golf club shafts, ferrules and heads, and the application of composites and alloys materials science in club design. With current limitations on modern golf club design, aerodynamics and materials are now the most important aspect of research and development for advance golf products. In addition, the rapid 'concept to delivery' lead times typical of Formula One will allow these progressions to reach the golf market sooner than via traditional R&D routes.
Both aerodynamics and carbon fiber composite technology are core Formula One competencies. Aerodynamics is the key performance differentiator in Formula One. Alongside traditional experimental disciplines such as wind tunnel testing, the sport leads the aerodynamic predictive discipline of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to model the drag and downforce characteristics of their race cars. At Williams F1, a CFD model of the AT&T Williams race car contains hundreds of millions of data points, allowing the smallest change to be assessed and analyzed in a virtual environment for its aerodynamic impact across the entire car geometry. Over an average season, a Formula One car will undergo more than 100 aerodynamic revisions to improve on-track competitiveness.
The sport has also pioneered the application and use of low weight, high strength carbon fiber since the 1980s, developing race cars that withstand ten annual penetration, static and dynamic crash tests to ensure driver safety while not compromising performance. Along with carbon fiber, several other materials that are critical to the performance of the race cars will be featured in the line of Williams Sports products. The clubs will feature tungsten inserts that will be used for fine tuning of weight distribution, which is a process used in Formula One. High nickel content super alloy, used in the manufacture of the lightweight racing car exhausts, will be the featured material in the Qualifier Series of Williams Sports irons.
Initial CFD analysis has shown that the aerodynamic profiling of a top surface trip and diffuser geometry to the underside of a driver head, does, under control conditions, lend the club a smaller wake and improved pressure recovery. The net gain for the golfer is a reduced loss of swing energy in addressing the ball and a more stable head angle better enabling a clean and directional ball strike.
In simulations, the Williams Sports' FW32 driver demonstrated 19% less drag force and an 11.5% decrease in drag coefficient as against a similarly-specified TaylorMade Burner driver.
Frank Williams, Williams F1's Team Principal said, "We are at the start of a fascinating period of business development. We have much proprietary know-how which we are now bringing to wider consumer as well as industrial applications, and our engagement with Williams Sport is a clear example of applying our knowledge usefully in areas outside of Formula One. I have great hopes for its potential to revolutionize design in golf equipment.
"This is a very exciting partnership for my team and I," said Michael Lee of Williams Sports. "Having access to Williams F1's extensive design and engineering know-how puts us one step ahead of every other company in the golf industry. So many limitations have been placed on golf equipment that it was just a matter of time before a golf company started looking at aerodynamics and new materials. Williams Sports is leading the way into a whole new era of club design. We are honored and excited about what the future holds for the partnership between Williams F1 and Williams Sports."