NSF Spends $350,000 to help golfers putt better

Last updated: November 26. 2013 12:41PM - 631 Views

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today released the following statement in a monthly series highlighting Washington’s wasteful spending during a time of record debt and deficits:


In just the latest example of wasteful spending, this month’s example of government waste comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which spent $350,000 on a study intended to help golfers improve their scores.


“Few things frustrate golfers as much as navigating their way from the tee towards the hole, only to miss a short putt. Maybe they will rest easier knowing that Washington is on the case to improve their scores, spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a study to show that golfers can increase their chance of sinking their putts by imagining that the hole is bigger. Perhaps Washington has similarly failed to rein in its out-of-control spending because too many perceive the hole in the federal budget to be small. Acknowledging that the current national debt now tops $140,000 per household may help the federal government better ace its spending restraint,” said Portman. “I re-read my copy of the U.S. Constitution, and I still cannot find the section empowering Washington to spend tax dollars on golf tips. While $350,000 may not seem like much money in Washington, there are families, businesses, and higher-priority government programs that surely could have used that money.”


The Purdue University study – funded by a portion of this $350,000 NSF grant as well as National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding – asked 36 golfers to putt towards two different-sized holes. Lighting was used to alter their perceptions of hole sizes. Simply making the smaller hole appear to be larger resulted in golfers shooting more successfully.


Taxpayers may not be finished with their investment: “More work is needed to better understand this effect, but we think the perceived increase in target size will boost confidence in one’s abilities,” said Jessica K. Witt, a Purdue University professor who led the study. She added that “A future goal is to develop techniques to help athletes see their target differently.”

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