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Walking 18 Holes of Golf Affects Swing and Performance

by Craig Odar | Aug 01, 2011
Study of recreational golfers examines changes to swing throughout a round

INDIANAPOLIS – Golfers change their swing and key swing mechanics throughout the course of 18 holes of walked golf, which may influence performance, according to a study presented at the 55th American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

Many studies have examined the mechanics of the golf swing to determine what aspects of the swing are most important to performance; however, researchers Nick R. Higdon and Eric Dugan set out to research how the golf swing changes throughout a round of walked golf. The researchers examined the relationship between time (playing 18 holes of walked golf), mechanical variables and performance variables related to the golf swing.

Mechanical variables included ground reaction forces bilaterally; sagittal plane ankle, knee, and hip angles; angular velocity of the pelvis and thorax, and their relative timing. The performance variables considered were club head velocity and shot consistency.

The study examined seven golfers, who typically average scores between 80 and 95, during their participation in a simulated game of walked golf. The one female and six male recreational golfers walked six total miles, in one mile increments, while carrying a weighted bag. Before the first mile walked, and after each subsequent mile walked, the golfers hit 20 tee shots, totaling 140 tee shots at the conclusion of the simulated round.

“We created the study protocol in order to capture views of each of the movements on every swing,” said Higdon. “This allowed us to create a model to statistically study the relationship between time, mechanics and performance.”

Over the course of the protocol, the golfers were less able to achieve an appropriate weight transfer to the lead leg. This resulted in decreased club head velocity, which affects the distance the ball will travel. Additionally, the study showed the angles of the lead knee and lead ankle at the top the swing are affected by time. These factors typically affect the accuracy of the shot.

While walking the golf course is an excellent form of physical activity, this study suggests that it may have an impact on a golfer’s swing and performance, gradually decreasing club head velocity and shot consistency. This may be particularly noticeable if golfers carry their bags while walking.

“I think many golfers are realizing that their bodies are the most important tool they have in the golf swing, and that improving physical fitness may be more helpful than expensive golf clubs,” said Higdon.  “The study suggests that golf mechanics change and performance may decline the longer the golfer walks and swings.  Getting in better shape may help golfers combat the effects of fatigue while playing golf.”

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The  American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.  More than 20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the  American College of Sports Medicine.

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