Golf on the Moon: The Ultimate Swing

The surprising story of the first and only golf game on the moon
The only sport that has been played on the moon is golf, by astronaut Alan Shepard in 1971.


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For those in a hurry

  • Alan Shepard was the first American in space and the fifth man to walk on the moon.
  • He also became the first and only person to play golf on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971.
  • He used a makeshift club made of a 6-iron head attached to a tool for collecting rock samples.
  • He hit two golf balls, one went 24 yards and the other went 40 yards.
  • The second ball was recently located by imaging specialist Andy Saunders using enhanced scans of the original flight film.

The story behind the club

Alan Shepard was a golf enthusiast who wanted to do something fun and memorable on his lunar expedition. He secretly smuggled a 6-iron head on board the Apollo 14 spacecraft, hidden in a sock. He then attached it to a collapsible tool that was designed to scoop lunar rock samples. The result was a makeshift golf club that he could use on the moon.

The historic swings

On February 6, 1971, Shepard and his fellow astronaut Edgar Mitchell were preparing to leave the moon after spending more than nine hours on the surface. Shepard decided to try out his club and hit a few balls. He had to swing one-handed because of his bulky spacesuit and gloves. He also had to be careful not to damage his helmet visor with the club.

He hit two balls, both of which he sliced into a nearby crater. The first one traveled 24 yards, according to Saunders’ analysis. The second one went farther, 40 yards, and was not seen again until Saunders identified it on the enhanced images. Shepard famously exclaimed that the second ball went “miles and miles and miles”, but that was just a humorous exaggeration.

The significance of the shots

Shepard’s golf shots were not only a playful gesture, but also a scientific demonstration. They showed how objects behave differently on the moon, which has much lower gravity and no atmosphere than Earth. A golf ball on the moon would fly farther and longer than on Earth, but it would also be affected by other factors such as slope, spin, and wind resistance.

Shepard’s club and one of his balls are now displayed at the USGA Golf Museum in New Jersey, as part of the Moon Shot collection. They are reminders of a remarkable moment in human history, when golf became an interplanetary sport.