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Competitive Elite Golf

A Review of the Relationships between Playing Results, Technique and Physique

Abstract

Elite golfers commonly use fitness and technical training to become more competitive. The aim of this paper was to review the literature regarding the relationships between elite golfers’ playing results, technique and physique. The competitive outcome is a direct function of the score. The three golf statistical measures that show the strongest correlations to scoring average are greens in regulation (GIR), scrambling, and putts per GIR. However, more detailed game statistics are needed where the distances to the targets are known before and after the strokes. Players affect ball displacement by controlling clubhead velocity and clubface angle during club and ball impact. X-factor studies have produced ambiguous results, possibly caused by different definitions of upper torso, rotation and top of backswing. Higher clubhead speed is generally associated with larger spinal rotation and shoulder girdle protraction at the top of the backswing. It is also associated with higher ground reaction forces and torques, a bottom-up and sequential increase of body segment angular velocities, a rapid increase of spinal rotation and a late adduction of the wrists during the downswing. Players can increase the clubhead speed generated by a swinging motion by actively adding a force couple. Wrist, elbow and shoulder force couple strategies should be differentiated when investigating the technique. Physical parameters such as anthropometrics, strength and flexibility are associated with skill level and clubhead speed. Current studies have investigated the linear correlation between arm and shaft lengths and clubhead speed, but a quadratic relationship may be stronger due to changes in moment of inertia. Fitness training can increase and perhaps decrease the clubhead speed and striking distance, depending on training methods and the player’s fitness and level of skill. Future studies may focus on individual training needs and the relationship between physique, execution and its relation to accuracy of impact and ball displacement.

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Table I
Fig. 1
Table II
Table III

Notes

  1. Greens in regulation (GIR) is the number of greens reached on two shots (or less) than par for the hole.

  2. Driving accuracy is defined as the percentage of tee shots on par 4 and par 5 holes that end up on the fairway.

  3. Vch ≈ Vgrip + Ωshaft × lshaft; the bending of the shaft decreases the effective lever slightly.

  4. Defined as the time between the start of the backswing (0%) and ball impact (100%).

  5. See Kreighbaum and Barthels[80] and Putnam[81] for further discussion.

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Acknowledgements

The Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports funded this research. This is a national organization with the task of initiating, coordinating, supporting and informing about sport-related research. The author would also like to thank Leif Isberg, Johnny Nilsson and Robert Neal for their help in the preparation of this paper. The author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Hellström, J. Competitive Elite Golf. Sports Med 39, 723–741 (2009). https://doi.org/10.2165/11315200-000000000-00000

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Keywords

  • Force Couple
  • Skilled Player
  • Golf Swing
  • Good Player
  • Ball Flight