In this unit, students will build a contraption to hit a small, wooden golf ball through a scaled version of a golf course which they and their classmates have designed. They’ll make a trundle wheel for measuring and marking the course, write down their scores on a scorecard, design putters, and learn background in physics through their work in the engineering and design process.
The Playable Golf Course is not just fun. It’s a challenging engineering, design, and construction unit including both physics and math applications.
After so much success with the Table-Top Miniature Golf unit, I began to wonder if my young engineers could construct a full length, playable golf course—in miniature. The answer was a resounding “yes!”, and in many ways, our full-sized golf course was even more fun than the putt-putt version. What golfer doesn’t dream of being a big hitter, after all? Whacking tee shots 300 yards down a green fairway, lofting an approach shot onto the green from 150? We did it . . . all on a scaled version, of course.
Each session of engineering and design begins with mini-lessons for physics. Then we bring out the tools and apply our knowledge and creativity as golf course architects. First, we build a “whacker” which sends our scaled wooden golf balls sailing into the air over 300 scaled yards. We construct putters for our green play, and then we lay out our scaled golf course with holes of up to 500 yards long. We’ll need obstacles like trees, bunkers, and lakes. We’ll need to measure and mark our course so we know it meets USGA requirements. As students using the engineering process, we’ll need to test our designs, set par, and establish rules of play to ensure function matches design. Our quickest builders add golf carts, club houses, and extras along the way. Surely we will need a scorecard as well so we can play a tournament at unit’s end.
Included in this lesson are all the instructions (including many photos) you’ll need to bring the Playable Golf Course into your classroom. Also included are ready-to-print shortcuts of a scorecard and rules of play as well as suggested mini-lessons in physics to provide background knowledge for the engineering process.
I used this unit in my summer camp for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade gifted and talented students, but there is no reason a 6th, 7th, and 8th grader would not enjoy the challenge as well.
We completed this unit in approximately 12 hours with extended periods on task in a summer camp setting.
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