NCG's Golf Glossary: What is a moon shot?January 1, 2010 Golf News
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Golf is a game that’s literally out of this world, as you’re about to find out, and that means there really is no escaping the weird and wonderful vocabulary of the keen golfer.
Which is why here at National Club Golfer, we’re the publication for the everyday player and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to give you a step-by-step introduction to the wonderful world of the golfing lexicon.
Phrase of the week: Moon shots
What I think it means:
Previously, I would have thought a moon shot would be one of those we’ve all suffered, whereby you’ve teed your ball up a little too high and managed to slice the ball at such a steep angle it’s almost grazed your nose on its upwards trajectory – heading skyward in a manner not dissimilar to a Saturn rocket.
As with all things in life, what goes up must come down, and the ball usually plummets back down to earth only a short distance away.
But I’m sure I heard a commentator recently describing one of McIlroy’s drives as a ’moon shot’. So if that’s the case, I’m thinking they could actually be a positive thing. Rather than a mis-hit, I believe a moon shot could be a strike of the ball that goes so far, and so high, it’s as though it was struck by Alan Shepard on the Lunar surface during the Apollo 14 mission.
Or it was struck by Alan Shepard in a TV studio in Nevada – just ask Jesper Parnevik
Coincidentally, February 2016 marks the 45th anniversary since Shepard’s history-making six-iron shot.
’A slang term for an unintended skied shot, that usually travels only a short distance’
Use it in a sentence:
“You nearly hit the inside of the driving range roof! What a moon shot.”
I can’t find evidence for the origins of the golf term ’moon shot’, but the comedian Bob Hope takes credit for inspiring Alan Shepard’s lunar golfing adventure.
‘Shepard, watching closely, had a funny smile on his face’
In his 1985 book ’Confessions of a Hooker’, Hope states: ”Shepard showed me a training device used by the men who would soon be walking on the moon. It was a sort of harness for the upper torso, supported by a steel cable.
“As I often do, I had carried my driver into the room where they were conducting the tests. They strapped me into the harness and involuntarily I went up on my toes and, feeling just a bit frightened, placed my driver down to act as a tripod.
“Shepard, watching closely, had a funny smile on his face. Later he told me that was where he got the idea to take a golf club with him to the moon.”
What this actually means:
Ah, it’s as I initially thought. A moon shot isn’t anything to be proud of, and I obviously misheard the commentator – Rory doesn’t slice his drives, does he?
Looks like Shepard wasn’t the only one seeing stars
Interestingly, a 380-yard drive from McIlroy measures in at 1,140 feet. Put him on the moon, where the gravity is just one-sixth what it is on Earth, and McIlroy’s massive could amount to more than a mile.
Clearly this is in a hypothetical world where he could maintain his swing speed and wasn’t restricted by a space suit – not known for being designed to allow freedom of movement).
Indeed, Shepard was forced to strike his shots Jason Palmer-like, using one hand. He shanked his first hit, but estimated the second went around 200-yards.
Hope joked: “Shepard placed two balls in the dust. He shanked the second one – and tossed the club into the Sea of Tranquility.”