Study of Professional Golfers – Positions During the Golf Swing
Previously unidentified trends in the body positions, both static and dynamic, of professional golfers as they setup and swing the golf club, have been discovered and confirmed by independent research and study. The results are presented in this paper. This paper is a summary of the findings during a 12-month study both in the field and in the swing laboratory. The fundamental discoveries and conclusions drawn in this study are the correlation between consistent body positions and the consistency demonstrated by professional golfers. These concepts are explored in more depth in this paper.
Body Orientation Patterns
At one of its most basic levels, the golf swing is the rotation of the golf club about the spine of a golfer. Therefore, it stands to reason that the position of the arms and club, relative to the spine, in the address and take-away positions, will greatly affect how the swing will be executed and the striking of the golf ball. If a golfer changes the position of the arms and golf club, relative to the spine, when changing from a driver to a wedge, they will be executing a dramatically different swing for each club. In essence, the golfer will be creating a more complex ‘mechanical system’, which will increase the difficulty in recreating a consistent ball striking for each club. These ideas and this reasoning were explored in this study, and the primary variable correlation that was identified and tracked was the shaft-to-forearm angle. The definitions of the primary variables that this study focuses on, is the club to the spine to forearm angles, and are illustrated below.
Set-up / Address Measurements
For this study, we looked at the address positions of 201 professional golfers. The positions were measured by multiple methods, including placing markers at different places on the body, and then using a camera/computer system we able to calculate the different positions and relative orientations, as well as photographing the golfers, and then measuring positions on screen. The summary of data is shown below.
The consistency of the body positions and orientations was discovered in the research, and seems to be an important component that allows professional golfers to achieve incredible accuracy and consistency. The top professionals are setting certain precise body positions exactly the same for more than one club, and therefore reducing the overall complexity when you consider their entire catalog of swings. The top pros set essentially the same address and take-away positions for every club they swing, in terms of the club to forearm to spine angles. Amateurs on the other hand, set 10 or so vastly different variations of these orientations, and therefore have to master 10 significantly different address positions and swings.
Considering the set-up and swing complexity, and the associated variations that the average amateur has to learn, it makes sense why amateurs are far from achieving great consistency. We postulate that after years of practice and constant feedback from professional teachers and coaches, the professional golfers have inherently adopted certain body positions for each of their swings. When you examine the body orientations of dozens of professional golfers, there are certain consistent patterns that began to emerge, as shown in the data that was discovered. The only major body position that changes when moving from the driver to the wedge (as viewed from the side), is the spine angle (or bending from the hips/waist). The spine angle changes as a result of bending, to account for the shorter or longer club. The top professionals have reduced the number of set-up and swing variables to the bare minimum and have simplified the golf swing dramatically. Of course, our data shows averages, and certain individual golfers body positions vary from the averages.
Steve Bosdosh, PGA
David Kardos, M.E.
Players Lab Technician, Major Golf Equipment Manufacturer