The Highly Athletic Sport of Golf


There are 40 million golfers in this country playing golf every day.  The average golfer tends to take up the game when he or she is no longer racing around a sports field, nor actively participating in other energetic, competitive or physically demanding sports. Golf is usually thought of as a game of technical skill rather than an athletic event, requiring less exertion than most other sports.  Because of this misconception, premature performance plateaus and injuries are often the result.


Now most of you would not equate golf as a highly athletic event, but in actuality it is.  Consider this:  The average pitcher throws a baseball 90MPH and the average golf club head speed is 90MPH.  Professional golfers often range in the 110-130 MPH range.  Amateur golfers achieve approximately 90% of their peak muscular activity when driving a golf ball.  This is the same intensity as picking up a weight that can only be lifted 4 times before total muscular fatigue!  Yet many golfers fail to realize that they strike the ball an average of 45 times per game with comparable intensity. 


Some other interesting statistics on golf:  One-tenth of one percent play “par” golf.  Approximately 30% of all professional golfers are playing injured, while 54% of male amateur golfers and 45% of female amateur golfers are playing injured. 


Most people seek help from a bookstore or a personal trainer to enhance their golfing performance.  The problem with this is that most books and training regimes are based on the principles of bodybuilding, where the primary goal is strength and power.  From a neurological standpoint, bodybuilding causes a sedation of the nervous system’s ability to organize and synchronize complex multi-joint movements.  The result is the complete opposite of that which is desired.  You actually decrease flexibility, coordination, balance, endurance, and agility.  The difference between golf and other sports is that professional athletes outside of golf include conditioning as an integral part of their preparation before play.    


Technological advances today such as graphite, titanium, ceramics, high-speed digital video equipment and astounding golf ball design have helped improve the game of golf.  Or have they?   In 1974, the average male golfers handicap was 16.4.  The average female golfer’s handicap was 29.  Today, the average male golfer’s handicap is 16.4.  The average female golfer’s handicap is 29.   The 1939 Masters won with a winning score of 9 under par.  The 1994 masters won with a score of 9 under par.  The lowest all-time scoring averages are as follows:


2000                Tiger Woods                68.17

1945                Byron Nelson               68.33

1948                Ben Hogan                   69.03  

1950                Sam Snead                   69.23

2000                Phil Mickelson              69.25


In other words, it’s not the equipment folks!



Source:  Dr. Jeffrey Blanchard, B.S., D.C., M.U.A.C.

Golf Injuries: Techniques to Adjust the Handicap of Pain,