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Biomechanics of Golf


Golf is a very difficult game. As a former caddy, I have seen golfers play every day with little improvement in their score. Understanding and applying the biomechanical principals of linear and angular velocity, and centripetal force, will help golfers minimize their score.

Angular velocity and linear velocity are related concepts. Linear velocity is how quickly an object moved in a straight line or curved line and in which direction is noted, while angular velocity is the rate of change of angle in an objects movement and usually refers to rotational movement around a circle (Blazevich, 2010). The goal of a golf drive is to hit the ball as far as possible while keeping it on the fairway. The resultant displacement of the ball being driven is a product of the linear club-head velocity at ball contact, which is a result of the angular velocity of the swing and the club lever arm (Hume, Keogh, & Reid, 2005). Without a high angular velocity during the swing, there will be a low linear velocity, and subsequently the ball will not go very far.

The golf swing is a forceful rotational movement in the transverse plane about the vertical axis, and consists of the phases of backswing, downswing, moment of impact and follow-through (Chu, Sell, & Lephart, 2010). To maximize velocity of the swing and the distance of the ball after impact backswing must be optimized. Proper backswing facilities a powerful downswing and follow-through. Further backward rotation of the trunk, creating a separation between the upper torso and pelvis, and an increased upward and backward rotation of the arms and increased hinge in the wrist allow maximal velocity in the downswing (Chu et al., 2010).

Another biomechanical factor to consider is maintaining a centripetal force center. Centripetal force is the force that holds an object in circular motion.

The golf swing’s power source originates from a well-defined center of body rotation (the core) and is controlled by a braced leg and foot The centripetal force acts from the grip towards the center where the hand-arm-shoulder complex rotates, approximately around a central point near the between the body and accelerates the club and ball forward (Hellstrom, 2009). Keeping the base of support stable allows maximal gathering of potential energy through trunk, hip, and arm rotation. To maintain a strong center of rotation in the swing a golfer should, flex both knees slightly at the address of the ball, while keeping weight slightly on the inside of their shoes, and during trunk rotation and center maintain the knee flexion they started with at setup until upper body rotation is complete (Hellstrom, 2009).

References

Blazevich, A. J. (2010). Sports biomechanics: The basics: Optimizing human performance (2nd ed.). London: Bloomsbury.

Chu, Y., Sell, T. C., & Lephart, S. M. (2010). The relationship between biomechanical variables and driving performance during the golf swing. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(11), 1251-1259.

Hellstrom, J. (2009). Competitive elite golf: A review of the relationships between playing results, technique and physique. Sports Medicine, 39(9), 723-741.

Hume, P. A., Keogh, J., & Reid, D. (2005). The role of biomechanics in maximizing distance and accuracy of golf shots. Sports Medicine, 35(5), 429-449.