, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 429-449

The Role of Biomechanics in Maximising Distance and Accuracy of Golf Shots

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Abstract

Golf biomechanics applies the principles and technique of mechanics to the structure and function of the golfer in an effort to improve golf technique and performance. A common recommendation for technical correction is maintaining a single fixed centre hub of rotation with a two-lever one-hinge moment arm to impart force on the ball. The primary and secondary spinal angles are important for conservation of angular momentum using the kinetic link principle to generate high club-head velocity. When the golfer wants to maximise the distance of their drives, relatively large ground reaction forces (GRF) need to be produced. However, during the backswing, a greater proportion of the GRF will be observed on the back foot, with transfer of the GRF on to the front foot during the downswing/acceleration phase. Rapidly stretching hip, trunk and upper limb muscles during the backswing, maximising the X-factor early in the downswing, and uncocking the wrists when the lead arm is about 30° below the horizontal will take advantage of the summation of force principle. This will help generate large angular velocity of the club head, and ultimately ball displacement. Physical conditioning will help to recruit the muscles in the correct sequence and to optimum effect. To maximise the accuracy of chipping and putting shots, the golfer should produce a lower grip on the club and a slower/shorter backswing. Consistent patterns of shoulder and wrist movements and temporal patterning result in successful chip shots. Qualitative and quantitative methods are used to biomechanically assess golf techniques. Two- and three-dimensional videography, force plate analysis and electromyography techniques have been employed. The common golf biomechanics principles necessary to understand golf technique are stability, Newton’s laws of motion (inertia, acceleration, action reaction), lever arms, conservation of angular momentum, projectiles, the kinetic link principle and the stretch-shorten cycle. Biomechanics has a role in maximising the distance and accuracy of all golf shots (swing and putting) by providing both qualitative and quantitative evidence of body angles, joint forces and muscle activity patterns. The quantitative biomechanical data needs to be interpreted by the biomechanist and translated into coaching points for golf professionals and coaches. An understanding of correct technique will help the sports medicine practitioner provide sound technical advice and should help reduce the risk of golfing injury.