Golf Swing Biomechanics

How has biomechanics contributed to the understanding of the golf swing?


At the turn of the last century, there were 30,000 golf courses and 55 million people who played golf worldwide, whilst in the USA alone, the value of golf club memberships sold in the 1990s was $3.2 billion (Coleman and Rankin, 2005). Robertson (2003) states that the ‘Tiger Woods Phenomenon’ (the emergence of the officially ranked world number one golfer) has been one of the key factors in golf’s ever-increasing participation levels. However, Hocknell (2002) suggests that the rapid growth in prize money (particularly since the late 1980s) has been one of the principle factors. Hocknell argues that the modern day financial rewards have stimulated a greater level of professionalism amongst elite players. This in turn has created a higher standard of performance, thus generating a widespread interest due to the high levels of excitement, intensity and inspiration produced in the live events that are transmitted around the world. The debate regarding why golf has become so popular will no doubt continue, but whatever the argument may be, golf in the twenty first century, as a sport and as an industry, is continually growing on a global scale (Shmanske, 2000).

Farraley et al (2003) discuss how golf’s dramatic rise in profile has significantly contributed to the increased employment of sports scientists within the industry. According to Schempp (2005), golfers of all abilities (especially professionals) are striving to gain an edge over their competitors, and will thus seek the assistance of sports scientists from a range of disciplines including psychology, biomechanics (not only in relation to the swing, but also equipment design), and exercise physiology and nutrition, in order maximise their performance. Schempp also states that the experts are continually publishing their research findings in discipline specific peer-reviewed journals. This should underpin the game of golf...