If you ain't got that swing...

February 15, 2002

Do not blame your golf clubs - it is not their fault. An investigation into how the characteristics of different clubs affect a person's game has found that the problems most golfers suffer out on the fairway cannot be solved simply by buying a more expensive club.

Eric Wallace, lecturer in bioengineering at the University of Ulster, believes that the subtle variations of design in the majority of clubs has minimal effect for all but the very best players.

"You cannot buy a golf swing with a new golf club," he said. "If you're serious about golf, then take lessons."

The project, which is the first scientific study into how clubs are matched to players, was commissioned by the Professional Golfers' Association of America.

It focused on three of the 19 different aspects of the club.

A group of 124 male amateur golfers were assessed by the scientists.

Each golfer had markers placed around their body and each was given a randomly selected five iron that possessed particular characteristics.

Cameras monitored the markers throughout the swing. The data were subjected to sophisticated three-dimensional motion analysis, which was then compared with the range and accuracy of the shot.

The study of shaft stiffness found that it made little difference to the speed at which the club hit the ball.

Handicap, on the other hand, accoun-ted for 35 per cent of the variation between each strike. The player's leg power had a 20 per cent impact while back strength had a 16 per cent impact.

While the worst clubs can blight a player's game and the best can give top professionals an edge over their rivals, Dr Wallace concluded that there was little difference between most of the clubs.

He said: "People swear at their golf club but it is their own swing that is at fault."

Dr Wallace has been invited tosubmit an edited version of his report to the journal Sports Engineering .

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