The Role of High-Quality Golf Swing in the Professional Golf

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The golf swing is a component of the game of golf which is performed by the player when driving, chipping and putting with the aim of hitting the golf ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible (Hume et al, 2005). The asymmetrical motion performed during a golf swing involves various rotational movements where substantial forces are created (Hume and Keogh, 2017). As stated in Adlington’s study from 1996, the mechanics of the golf swing have been described by golf coaching professionals as essential for optimal golf driving performance (Adlington, Chu et al 2010) which consists of hitting the ball as far and as accurately as possible (Hume et al, 2005). The biomechanical analysis of the golf swing, which links mechanical principles to the understanding of movement can offer an insight into the performance of a golfer (Hume et al, 2005).

However, since Cochran and Stobbs’s study first published in 1968 where the golf swing is modelled as a double pendulum system (Penner, 2003), research carried out is yet to produce a conclusive explanation of the physics behind the golf swing (Farrally et al, 2003). Due to the high volume of research conducted on the golf swing and its mechanics, there are several areas of disagreement regarding the constituents of the optimal golf technique for the various shots required to be performed in a typical round of golf (Hay, 1993 BOOK).

Nevertheless, various studies have offered specific insights into the variables of the golf swing and have attempted to demonstrate how these variables influence one another. Budney and Bellow based themselves on the double pendulum model and measured the relationship between the arms of the golfer and club path during the golf swing in 1979 (Penner, 2003). This yielded to valuable information regarding the behaviour of the coupling of the hand and wrists at different phases of the downswing (Penner, 2003). While Budney and Bellow’s investigation focused on verifying the significance of specific biomechanical features, this study will evaluate multiple variables throughout the golf swing to establish the essential factors among them.

Jorgensen (1994) carried out an examination of a professional golfers’ swing and established that a lateral shift of the hub, the joining point between the hands and the club, was necessary to comply with the trajectory and speed of the golf club during the downswing (Penner, 2003). Miura later in 2001 determined that for skilled golfers, the inward pull action of the golf club at the moment of impact increased the transfer of energy to the club resulting in higher club head speed (Nesbit & McGinnis, 2009). Although these studies offer feedback regarding specific segments of the golf swing, it is yet to be examined from a multidisciplinary perspective (Farrally et al, 2003). Therefore, the links between the biomechanics of the golf swing and its efficiency in performance are yet to be convincingly established.

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The mathematical models founded in previous studies have nevertheless allowed aspects of the golf swing to be described from a physics perspective (Milburn, cited in Chu et al 2010) and observed kinematically. Kinematical analyses of the golf swing have been performed over the years to gather a logical understanding of the motions involved in the movement and their influence on performance (Jorgensen, 1994). Indeed, previous kinematical investigations have revealed that variables such as a delayed club release, increase rotational torque applied at the hub of the arms and increased angle of the backswing are associated with a rise in club head speed (Reyes et al, cited in Sinclair et al, 2014). The variables observed and analysed during these studies have developed an understanding of the differing techniques employed by the golfer depending on their skill and ability (Lindsay et al, 2008). However, the biomechanical characteristics of golfers depending on gender is an aspect of golf that has not yet been fully understood (reference needed).

Gender effects on the biomechanics of human movement have been investigated in various studies but very few have focused on the gender effects of the kinematical characteristics of movement in specific sports. An investigation carried out by Bazuelo-Ruiz provided a kinematical analysis of knee and ankle angles for recreational runners and evaluated gender and fatigue effects (Bazuelo et al, 2018). Females produced higher dorsiflexion and knee angles compared to males, but male participants showed lower plantar flexion in the toe-off phase in comparison to female participants (Bazuelo et al, 2018). This study demonstrated that higher peak flexion values were found in females contrasting to males indicating that females seem to squat deeper and decelerate slower than males (Gehring et al, 2009). (Reference to the higher flexibility of females compared to males).

McLean et al carried out a study in 2004 examining the effect of gender and defensive opponent on the biomechanics of Sidestep Cutting. This movement can be described as a key offensive strategy in various team sports and regularly consists of a sudden deceleration phase on impact followed by a rapid directional change to avoid a defensive opponent (McLean et al, 1999 (Referenced in McLean’s 2004 study). Results showed that women perform sidestepping movements with less hip, abduction, flexion and internal rotation and as well as less knee flexion and internal rotation (McLean et al, 2004). A greater rearfoot pro-nation and knee valgus was also showed in females compared to males (McLean et al, 2004).

This may be a consequence of lower muscle strength in females compared to males (McLean et al, 2004). While stroke rate has been shown to be similar for males and female swimmers, a disparity in stroke length between both sexes has resulted in a difference in performance levels (Arellano et al, 1994). A study carried out in 2006 by Seifert et al investigated the effects of gender and performance level on the kinematical changes during a 100m Front Crawl. The report found that although arm coordination was similar for high speed male and female swimmers, females adopted a different motor organization by using superposition coordination compared to males who used opposition coordination (Seifert et al, 2007).

Fatigue can be pointed out as a key factor that has influenced the performance of participants throughout these studies which may suggest a lack of reliability in the results found and conclusions made regarding gender effects on technique. Due the static nature of the golf swing, fatigue will not have similar effects on this study. The game of golf has for the past 10 years seen the incorporation of health and fitness grow massively in the professional game as instructors are beginning to recognise the correlation between physical attributes and swing efficiency (Lephart et al, 2007). Along with the help of technology, this increase in athleticism among top players has had an impact across the amateur game where hitting the ball as far as possible is now essential. The majority of golf-related injuries are said to occur due to the golf swing (Gosheger et al, cited in Marta et al, 2012) as it is the phase in which there is the greatest demand on all of the musculoskeletal structures involved (Theriault & Lachance, 1998). The kinematical analysis of golf swings can therefore help with accuracy and distance of shots but can especially identify any chance of injury caused by movement or posture (Lephart et al, 2007).

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