Defining Moments – Alan Shepard – Golf on the Moon 1971
5 March 2014 • By - Jamie Foale
For years the space race between America and the Soviet Union had captivated millions and when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, in 1969, the whole world was watching. Following the nearly disastrous Apollo 13 mission the next manned mission to the moon provided one of the lighter moments of space exploration.
On 6th February 1971, Alan Shepard, a 47 year old from New Hampshire, became the 5th man to ever walk on the moon; but he wasn’t satisfied with just that. While on the surface of the moon Shepard announced that he had a “Wilson 6-iron” golf club with him and proceeded to hit two golf balls away into the distance. Sports manufacturer Wilson were presumably delighted with the unprecedented level of advertising, especially after Shepard declared that his second shot had flown for “miles and miles and miles” due to the lack of gravity. In addition to becoming the first man to play golf, or any sport for that matter, on the moon Shepard also broke the record for the longest moonwalk after he, and his colleague Edgar Mitchell, spent over 9 hours exploring the surface.
Alan Shepard, retired from NASA 3 years after the Apollo 14 space mission and went on to serve on the board of a number of different companies before his death in 1998. However, he left his mark on the field of space exploration by proving that even thousands of miles away from earth it is still possible to have fun.