Physical activity demands of golf
Brink, Tania Kristel
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Introduction: Golf is quite challenging in terms of the physical demands that it places on the body throughout a round of golf, and even more so during a golf tournament, due to the repetitive action. Understanding the fitness characteristics inherent in playing golf can supply prosperous advantages to golf players, including a better and more productive swing as well as improved body mechanics. Objectives: The purpose of the study is to quantify the demands and load being placed on golf players, especially during tournaments, and therefore to assist them with a better construction of their conditioning programmes during golf practice. The study also aimed to determine the distance covered, work to rest ratios, and frequency of movements in golf. Methods: GPS data on a total of twelve (12) amateur golf players were collected and a total of forty rounds of golf (18 holes) were analysed for the study. Therefore, a total of forty (40) GPS data sets (player rounds) were analysed (equivalent to 720 holes were recorded). Minimax X4 Catapult GPS units as well as a Polar HR monitors and chest straps was used to determine the physiological demands on golf players. The variables recorded are distances covered, player load, the maximal velocity during the round, and heart rate (HR) response. Players were categorised according to their handicap - handicap<0, handicap=0 and handicap>0. The handicap categories were compared with respect to selected activity variables using a linear mixed model with handicap category (3 levels) as fixed effect, and player as random effect. Fitting player as random effect accommodated potential correlation of the data collected from the same player. Based on this linear mixed model, the mean values (of the activity variable) for each handicap category were estimated, together with their standard errors. Furthermore, the pairwise mean differences between handicap categories were estimated, together with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the mean differences and P values associated with the null-hypothesis of zero mean difference between the pair of handicap categories in question. Results: The mean value for players with a handicap below zero has the lowest playing duration (<0: = 4.32 hours) in relation to the players with the handicap equal to zero (=0: = 4.71 hours) with a handicap above zero (>0: = 4.88 hours). The total distance covered by players with the handicap below zero (<0: = 10.82km) was the furthest, compared to players with a handicap equal to zero (=0: = 10.52km) as well as player with a handicap above zero (>0: = 10.42km). Total player load was the highest for players with a below zero handicap (<0: = 606.67) followed by those with an above zero handicap (>0: = 587.05) and players with handicaps equal to zero (=0: = 583.56). Results also show that players with a handicap above zero (>0: = 2.02) has the lowest player load per minute value. Player load per kilometre was highest amongst players with a handicap below zero (<0: = 56.32) followed by players with handicaps above zero (>0: = 55.61). Below zero handicap (<0: = 42.52) players covered the longest distance per minute of all players. Players with a handicap below zero (<0: = 3.24) had the highest maximum velocity compared to players with handicaps equal to zero (=0: = 2.87), followed by players with handicaps above zero (>0: = 2.73). Significant differences between the players with a handicap below zero and players with a handicap above zero for total duration (p=0.0194) and meters per minute (p=0.021) can be observed. Conclusions: The study reveals the physical profile of and physical demands on amateur golf players and indicates differences between the various handicaps of golf players. These findings emphasise the differences in amateur players regarding handicaps for the load, duration, and distance placed on the players. Coaches and conditioning coaches must implement the findings of the study to develop sport-specific, and more importantly, handicap-specific conditioning programmes.