Rotational Biomechanics of the Elite Golf Swing: Benchmarks for Amateurs

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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The purpose of this study was to determine biomechanical factors that may influence golf swing power generation. Three-dimensional kinematics and kinetics were examined in 10 professional and 5 amateur male golfers. Upper-torso rotation, pelvic rotation, X-factor (relative hip-shoulder rotation), O-factor (pelvic obliquity), S-factor (shoulder obliquity), and normalized free moment were assessed in relation to clubhead speed at impact (CSI). Among professional golfers, results revealed that peak free moment per kilogram, peak X-factor, and peak S-factor were highly consistent, with coefficients of variation of 6.8%, 7.4%, and 8.4%, respectively. Downswing was initiated by reversal of pelvic rotation, followed by reversal of upper-torso rotation. Peak X-factor preceded peak free moment in all swings for all golfers, and occurred during initial downswing. Peak free moment per kilogram, X-factor at impact, peak X-factor, and peak upper-torso rotation were highly correlated to CSI (median correlation coefficients of 0.943, 0.943, 0.900, and 0.900, respectively). Benchmark curves revealed kinematic and kinetic temporal and spatial differences of amateurs compared with professional golfers. For amateurs, the number of factors that fell outside 1–2 standard deviations of professional means increased with handicap. This study identified biomechanical factors highly correlated to golf swing power generation and may provide a basis for strategic training and injury prevention.

David W. Meister is with the Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, and the Motion & Gait Analysis Laboratory, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, CA. Amy L. Ladd is with the Robert A. Chase Hand and Upper Limb Center, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA, and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA. Erin E. Butler is with the Motion & Gait Analysis Laboratory, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, CA; the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA; and the Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Betty Zhao and Andrew P. Rogers are with the Motion & Gait Analysis Laboratory, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, CA. Conrad Ray is with the Department of Athletics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Jessica Rose (Corresponding Author) is with the Motion & Gait Analysis Laboratory, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, CA, and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto CA.