If you were stuck on the moon and could only bring one CD to listen to, what would it be? What about reading material? Which book would you bring along? Astronaut Alan Shepard faced a similar question when he was heading up to the moon on the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. Only instead of books or albums, Shepard had to decide what golf club to bring.
I wasn’t around when Admiral Shepard walked on the moon, but I remember hearing stories of him setting up a camera on the moon’s surface and hitting a few golf balls. It got me wondering, what club did he use?
A random question to spend my time answering? Absolutely, but you never know what you’re gonna find on the Web until you look. A few weeks ago, I looked into what I thought was going to be a relatively easy answer on how who coined the phrase, “The dog ate my homework.” My research skills were quickly humbled, as I was unable to find any reliable answers.
This time, it was quite the opposite. I thought, “There is no way I’m gonna find out what golf club an astronaut used four decades ago,” but not only was the answer out there, I found the video of Shepard swinging away. If you listen carefully, you can hear him mention that he’s using a six iron.
Due to the bulkiness and inflexibility of his space suit, Shepard had to golf one handed. Upon hitting the second golf ball, he joked that it went “for miles and miles.” According to Wikipedia, Shepard later admitted that the ball likely flew between 200 and 400 yards. Not shabby until you consider that the moon has one-sixth the gravity of planet Earth.
In his later years, people would often ask Shepard about his lunar golf swing. He wasn’t sure if the golf balls would be preserved on the moon for future generations, or if, due to vast swings in temperature, they exploded. Interestingly, according to Sports Illustrated, Shepard never revealed what brand of golf balls he used, for fear that his famous swing would be inadvertently commercialized. Again, according to SI, Shepard knew that his having hit golf balls on the moon is what made him famous. “I’m probably a hell of a lot more famous for being the guy who hit the golf ball on the moon than as the first guy in space,” he said.
As for the six iron, it’s on display at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, New Jersey. Astute viewers will note that Shepard sawed off the club and attached it to a sample collection tool in order to bring it with him to the moon. A good golfer knows how to improvise.
Thanks for reading,
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