Matt Scott

Golf Fitness Research Review 3

Golf Fitness Research Review 3

Doan, B.K., Newton, R.U., Kwon, Y.H. and Kraemer, W.J. (2006) Effects of Physical Conditioning on Intercollegiate Golfer Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 20, 1, p62-72.

Introduction

This study used 16 male and female college students (university to us English); age 19.3±1.5years, weight 70.5±6.2kg, height 175.3±6.8cm and competitive scoring average of 80.4±6.6shots per 18 holes. The students were varsity golf athletes and were put through an 11 week strength, power and flexibility training programme.

Tests for strength included bench press and squat (using an Olympic barbell and squat rack), shoulder press using dumbbells, lat pull-down (universal lat pull-down cable machine) and isometric grip strength using a handgrip dynamometer.

Power was tested using a 2kg medicine ball throw. The medicine ball through was filmed and the ball velocity was calculated using motion analysis software. Trunk flexibility was tested by filming overhead a seated trunk rotation (both left and right rotation).

Ball launch data was collected using a GolfAchiever. Club head speed (CHS), club face angle and ball launch angle were recorded. Additionally, there was qualitative video analysis, filmed from a ‘front on’ view and analysed using Swinger software to assess any changes between pre- and post training intervention.

Results

Strength, Flexibility and Power results. Taken from Doan et al (2006).

Strength, Flexibility and Power results. Taken from Doan et al (2006).

Golf Performance Variables. Taken from Doan et al 2006).

Golf Performance Variables. Taken from Doan et al 2006).

Review

Firstly, most of these golfers within the study did not have an official handicap. That seems a little bit odd, however, I am not completely au fait with the American handicap system. It might somewhat explain the high scoring average for the year prior to the study for both men and women. It does go on to say the golfers are not ranked particularly high in the colligate golf rankings.

The estimated handicaps given to the men of 0/scratch and women of 5-10, I believe, is a bit generous and therefore would not help in the comparison to other studies with golfers with similar official handicaps, like the study suggests.

The study only mentions the participants training history in the discussion, where all participants have not trained for 6 months leading up to the study and 5 of the 6 women were completely new to resistance training.

All participants were “very familiar” with the strength training tests. This makes me wonder why they chose to do a 1RM bench press and not for the squat, yet to use a 4-6RM calculation.

The estimated 1RM for the squat seems high as all participants were untrained (and most of the women had never lifted a weight before). Additionally, in 11 weeks, I would have liked to see a greater improvement in strength compared to about 10kg for untrained participants. Comparatively to the squat, the men’s bench press seems particularly low, yet still a reasonable load for untrained participants.

Introducing an accuracy element within the power test might diminish the validity of the test. If participants were concentrating on hitting a target with the medicine ball, pure power might not have been recorded.

The warm up before hitting golf balls doesn’t sound like a proper warm up, yet maybe it’s representative of the average golfers warm up. It included “practise swings and hitting at least 15 golf balls”.

The average of only the 5 best of 15 shots were used for the CHS. This is not exactly representative of golf! Would be a much easier game if this were the case.

Qualitative video analysis of the frontal plane was used to overlay pre- and post intervention golf swings. I know this is a logical fallacy, but the authors of this study are not golf coaches.  Its odd they only did front on and not a down the line view too.

Within the results section, the authors mentioned that some of the participants demonstrated a greater transfer in weight during the downswing, post intervention. I think to make comments on this, a force plate would be needed, and not qualitative information. Apparently, one participant has a greater ‘x-factor’ post intervention. Again, you would need some sort of 3D analysis, compared to 2D video used in this study.

Further qualitative information reported on included the right arm movement in the take-away, lag/uncocking of the wrists on the downswing and swing synchronisation.

The authors did not look at any other variables which training have could influence. Such as change in posture and lateral movement (sway/slide). Also, if they wanted to see changes in the golf swing mechanics, why didn’t they look at the down the line view too?

As Doan et al pointed out there are two variables with putting, distance and direction. Why on earth did they not test both? This would have improved the validity of their putting test. It’s really not difficult to create a putting test that involves distance and direction. As a result, the conclusions they have drawn from their putting performance test have limited validity and are not transferable to golf.

Within the discussion, the Doan et al claim, “the increase in strength, power and flexibility may have allowed the women to adopt more optimal swing mechanics”. Yet as mentioned, this was not seen in the qualitative findings.

The improvements in strength etc. did not seem to transfer to the golf swing?! Could this be because of the exercise programme?  Or did they not leave enough time after the programme for adaptations within the golf swing to take place.

This could demonstrate the need for exercises within the frontal and/or transverse planes as well as sagittal strength training exercises to see optimal transfer to the golf swing.

Conclusion

Many weaknesses within the study are pointed out by the authors, such as the qualitative analysis. However, some other tests used within this study may lack validity.

The study shows that their exercise programme can improve strength, power and flexibility, yet it didn’t seem to transfer into improve golf specific variables. This could be a weakness of the prescribed exercise programme.

The participants being untrained, made them perfect for a training study. But I’m struggling to find a golfing population they are representative of.

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