There can be fewer better feelings in golf than a sweetly struck iron that soars off into the distance and it is a feeling that celebrated long hitters like John Daly and Bubba Watson are well used to. However, Bubba and the ‘Wild Thing’ were easily outdone in the early hours of Thursday morning after a Russian cosmonaut named Mikhail Tyurin took time out from his scheduled six-hour spacewalk to hit a one-handed six iron that was set to orbit the earth forty-eight times. He had previously played golf just twice in his life.
Those of us who seem to spend an eternity standing over the ball on the tee would have had an infinite amount of sympathy for Tyurin, after it took him and his colleague, the American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, some sixteen minutes to set up the shot. They also had to suffer the curse of the public course player after experiencing a two-hour delay to their tee time. Tyurin’s suit needed to be adjusted and the two men needed to wait for some sunlight in order to film the shot.
“It went pretty far ? it was an excellent shot,” said Tyurin, despite the video evidence suggesting that he had fallen foul of the beginner golfer’s nemesis ? the dreaded slice.
Canadian golf club manufacturer Element 21 donated an undisclosed sum to the cash-strapped Russian Federal Space Programme in exchange for priceless publicity and the opportunity to show the footage in a series of planned commercials. Tyurin used a gold plated six-iron designed specifically for the event by Element 21. The Canadian firm did not have to pay NASA any money for their involvement and extensive technical advice, which constituted significant research into the potential dangers of a golf ball flying past scientific equipment worth millions of dollars.
They concluded that due to the atmosphere in space the golf ball would only weigh three grams and therefore they allowed the stunt to go ahead. Experienced teaching pros all over the world would probably have been more nervous about allowing a non-golfer to hit a shot from a space ladder ? the potential ramifications of hitting one fat and taking an enormous divot are enough to make anyone shudder.
The diagram shown above is an artist’s impression of their task.