The practical application of strength and conditioning in golf
: rationalising, planning and integrating physical training for improved performance

  • Alex Bliss

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Golf is played by ~60 million individuals annually. The highest performance levels are achieved by a limited number of golfers who participate on professional tours and in elite amateur competitions. Improvements in equipment technologies notwithstanding, associations between strength capacities, clubhead speed and drive distance are known. Longer drivers have better performance outcomes and therefore, physically strong golfers have a performance advantage. High-performance golfers adopt various improvement strategies, with strength and conditioning (S&C) being widely utilised. An established empirical evidence base supports this approach although knowledge gaps remain relating to European Tour performance determinants, acute and longitudinal training intervention efficacy, and integrating S&C within a golfer’s overall schedule. This thesis addresses these critically important and previously unexplored aspects and culminates in an S&C model for golf.

The thesis comprises published works including five published peer-reviewed journal articles, three chapters from the textbook “Strength and Conditioning for Golf: A Guide for Coaches and Players”, four conference abstracts and four Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Magazine coach education articles. The works answer contemporary research and applied practice questions, with an overarching aim of helping golfers, coaches, and S&C coaches achieve improved performance. The thesis concludes with reflections from over 10 years of applied practice and research.

Publication 1 analysed European Tour performance data across recent seasons, demonstrating increased drive distance and that performance prediction is hole-par specific. Publication 2 investigated the acute effects of swinging over- and underweighted clubs and general bodyweight exercise. Clubhead speed improved in both conditions but increases in distance was not observed. Publication 3 evaluated an eight-week jumping and throwing intervention, improving clubhead speed and carry distance. Publications 4 and 5 surveyed golfers and coaches’ perceptions of S&C and integration with golf planning. Perceptions and practices were highly variable and often complex and/or contradictory, with suboptimal integration. The Book Chapters provide critique of S&C processes from an elite golf coach and touring professional, and discuss season planning and training elite golfers.

This thesis demonstrates continued S&C education for golfers, coaches, and governing bodies or professional tours is required. The works presented have impacted golf coaches internationally through S&C education at the PGA, England Golf, the United Kingdom S&C Association and Golf Performance Network. The golf model presented will support S&C coaches and the wider sport science community integrate effectively within golf.
Date of AwardJun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorNeil Maxwell (Supervisor)

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