News

Astronaut Alan Shepard’s golf ball has been found on the moon, 50 years later

One small step for man and one giant swing for mankind as image specialists have found Alan Shepard’s golf ball on the moon, 50 years since his famous hole in one.

You know you’re getting better at golf when you’re hitting fewer spectators, but this doesn’t apply to former astronaut Alan Shepard. 50 years ago, he took a few shots where no spectators could possibly be hit – the Moon.

The first shot was found by fellow astronaut Edgar Mitchell in a nearby crater right shortly after the shot, so you could say he did indeed get a hole in one.

Moon Landing
Photo: Edwin E. Aldrin Jr.

The second of Shepard’s shots wasn’t found until 50 years down the track when image specialist Andy Saunders digitally enhanced scans of the original clip of the golf swings. In the video, Shepard is heard saying the ball went “miles and miles and miles.” However, Saunders can confirm, despite the low gravity on the moon, the ball did not go very far at all.

“We can now fairly accurately determine that ball number one traveled 24 yards [22 meters], and ball number two travelled 40 yards [36 meters],” Saunders stated in the US Golfer’s Association (USGA).

Before we write off Shepard’s terrible swing, it is important to remember the impediments in the way. Saunders wrote, “the fact that Shepard even made contact and got the ball airborne is extremely impressive.”

“The suit would have restricted movement and the helmet would have made it very hard to see, not to mention the one-sixth gravity and lack of atmosphere.” 

Pro-Golfer Gary Felton wasn’t having a bar of it though, giving the former astronaut a pretty heavy critiquing. “You disastrously embellished your performance on the Moon,” he told IFLScience. “My recommendation for golfers who choose to play the noble game in space suits on the Moon would be a wider stance and a shorter backswing, and make sure no one is watching.”

Well, luckily we don’t think many people will be watching upon the Moon.