Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What are you lacking in your golf game?

In a week’s time the world’s greatest golfers will meet in Ayrshire, Scotland for the British Open Championship. What is it exactly is it that separates elite golfers from the average Joe? Golf is a sport open for people with a wide variety skill levels and physical capabilities. Nonetheless, it is an extremely complex sport, that at the elite level requires a high degree of fine motor control, large power output capabilities, aerobic endurance, and of course mental toughness. The swing alone requires a whole body movement; where power is transferred from different segments in the body, to propel the ball as far and accurately as possible (Fletcher and Hartwell, 2004). In an average round you are required to swing at this intensity 30-40 times a round (Wells, Elmi & Thomas, 2009). We have recently seen a revolution in golf, namely by Mr Woods, whose intense physical preparation (balance, flexibility, core, strength, power and cardiovascular training) rivals many other elite athletes in sport. So what physical attributes distinguish elite golfers from the average weekend warrior? This question was hoped to be addressed by some of Canada’s leading researchers in the field of Exercise Science. Wells et al, attempted to identify physiological correlates of golf performance by analyzing elite golfers from the Canadian National team. There is a gap in the current literature about the relationship between physical conditioning and golf performance. Everyone has been told in the past to train to prevent injury and increase performance, but what exactly do elite golfers do better in comparison to the normal population?