Golf Technology Biography for Dave Tutelman

Photo by Nathaniel Welch,
from article in
Golf Digest, July 2017
So who is this guy anyway, that I should trust him to know anything about golf technology?

I got my BSEE at City College of NY in 1962, back when it was a top-notch school. In the early '60s, an engineering graduate had to have a complete engineering background. My degree may have been in electrical engineering, but I had lots of courses and labs in mechanical engineering, fluid mechanics, engineering materials, structural design, etc. At the end of my senior year, I handily passed the preliminary exam for Professional Engineer in New York State, which was heavy in structural engineering. So my education was hardly just electronics, as would be true for today's graduates.

While in college, I had an invaluable summer job working as a junior engineer for IBM. One of the invaluable things was not job-related. IBM had a country club for the employees, an 18-hole, par-72, Robert Trent Jones Sr design. Greens fees were $1.00 for the employees on the weekend. I think it was 50 during the week, but when I went to play after work the starter had already gone home so I just walked on for free. Played maybe 60 holes a week that summer, and probably had a half-dozen sub-80 rounds. The best was an honest 74 (even three-putting the last green from 12 feet -- if I had made the first putt, the round was even par). However, since that summer, I hadn't broken 80 again until 2002 at age 61. I'm more an engineer than an athlete; any athletic success I attain comes from constant practice -- and I never had that much concentrated golf practice before -- or until I retired. After retirement in 2002, I got my game almost back to where it was in 1961. I was no longer young and strong, but I like to think I'm smarter than I was then. After 2006, I started to lose distance, and my scores went up on courses where distance is a factor. Today, I am advised by the "Tee It Forward" initiative of the PGA and USGA to play a course of 5000-5200 yards, based on my reduced driving distance. Doing that, I shot my age at a par-72 course in 2019, a 77 at age 78.

Bell Labs hired me upon graduation and sent me off to MIT for a year for my MSEE. A few years later I got most of a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania. I've been a researcher, circuit developer, software developer, manager, international negotiator, technology forecaster, and strategic planner for Bell Labs and AT&T in my career of nearly 40 years. (I retired at the beginning of 2002.)

Over the years, when I get involved in a sport, I tend to get involved in the technical aspects as well. Examples:

  • I was very active in sailboat racing (in the Albacore class, a 15-foot planing sailboat) in the 1970s. In 1971, I built a centerboard whose design I optimized by computer, which was probably one of the earlier applications of Computer Aided Design (CAD) to sports. Having derived the equations, I had the computer draw the templates on hardboard using an HP flatbed plotter. For the next three years, nobody won an Albacore national championship without first borrowing my templates and building a centerboard.
  • I did a lot of cycling since 1972, but peaked in the 1980s. If you were a serious cyclist who did his own maintenance in the late '80s and also used a PC, there's a good chance you downloaded and used my "BikeGear" program to design your gearing ratios.

So when I got back into golf in 1986 (I had stopped for about 20 years while my kids were growing up), I found that components were available and decided to build my own clubs. I quickly discovered that, while books about club making were available, there was very little engineering info (club design) around. I read what I could, and filled in the gaps with my engineering abilities. (Because I had exercised the non-electronics part of my background from time to time -- e.g., sailing and cycling -- I still remembered how.) I shared a lot of the info on the (RSG) Internet newsgroup. Eventually, I wrote a number of articles (including the Club Design Notes) so I wouldn't have to keep repeating myself on RSG. While Marcelo Gallardo ran the Princeton RSG archive, the notes were available there. After the archive shut down, the Club Design Notes resided on Clubmaker Online for several years, along with other articles that I have written on technical issues in golf. In 2004, I started the web site and brought the notes and articles here.

Since retiring from Bell Labs early in 2002, I have had more time to devote to golf technology. Here are a few of the projects I have been lucky enough to be involved with during that time:

  • Along with Dan Neubecker, I am the co-designer of the NeuFinder 4, an advanced shaft measurement and profiling instrument.
  • Along with Frank Schmidberger, I am the co-developer of TrajectoWare Drive, a golf ball trajectory computer application.
  • I have done consulting and technical writing for The Golf Institute in Naples, Florida and The Villages. That included doing the screenwriting for an educational video.
  • I have done occasional consulting for The Golf Coast of Santa Ana, California.
  • I have designed and built my own shaft flex instruments, including a frequency meter, an EI meter and the NeuFinder 4. Using these instruments, I have profiled shafts for Graman shafts, Mercury Golf, AccuFlex, and others.
  • Along with Charlie Badami, I profiled a set of new-technology shafts for a tour player's set of irons.
  • I have been the beta tester for several computer applications for clubmakers and club researchers.
  • I have done analytical studies (and articles on the web site) to answer questions from various people in the golf business. For instance:
  • Just because it's interesting, I have done lots of other studies, including in-depth works on:
    • Gear effect, and what it says about moveable weights, face roll, and the height on the face you should hit a driver.
    • Spines in shafts, how to measure them, and what you can accomplish by aligning them.
    • A 2008 technology forecast for golf clubs, and a companion article on how technology forecasters do their work.
  • I was the vice president of engineering for Pro-Head Golf, a company that makes and sells training aids.
  • I was an officer of Aim-Sense Technologies, a company that was developing a sensor based swing analyzer. It was fun and educations, but the technology passed us by before we finished developing our product.
  • Starting in 2010, I have gotten involved in the physics of the golf swing as well as the club. That has brought me into collaboration with biomechanists like Sasho MacKenzie, as well as noted instructors like Jim Mclean and Martin Hall. I have been in the middle of some of the more interesting questions in golf biomechanics in the past half-dozen years:
I look forward to lots more excitement as we all increase our understanding of what makes a golf club work.

Last updated - Dec 4, 2019