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Cardiac, respiratory, and behavioral patterns of elite (n = 15) and beginning (n = 15) golfers were monitored before and during the performance of six 4-ft and six 12-ft putts. In contrast to elite golfers, beginning golfers failed to demonstrate consistent behavioral preputt routines (e.g., number of practice swings, glances at hole). Elite golfers, compared to beginning golfers, exhibited significantly better putting performance at the 12-ft distance. Both elite and beginning golfers showed significantly decelerated heart rate during the 4- and 12-ft putts. Within four cardiac cycles before striking the ball, the interbeat interval significantly lengthened, indicating a decrease in heart rate. For the 12-ft putt, however, elite golfers in comparison to beginners recorded significantly slower heart rates for the interbeat intervals immediately before, during, and after ball strike.
The authors are with the Department of Health and Physical Education, Memorial Gymnasium, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903.