Drive performance for able-bodied and disabled golfers
International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
Biomechanics Research Unit, University of Limerick, Ireland; Centre for Human Performance Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Golf is a popular leisure and competitive activity for individuals with disabilities. The current golf handicap system does not take into account the possible challenges of playing golf with any form of physical disability. The aim of this study was to examine golf driving performance measures, comparing golfers with various types of physical disabilities to able-bodied golfers. Through drive shot ball launch analysis, this study compared amputees (single leg, below and above knee), deaf, visually impaired, polio, Les Autres and arthrogryposis golfers to able-bodied golfers with similar golf handicaps. Twenty-seven able-bodied (handicap category 3, 12.4 ± 7.0) and 15 disabled (handicap category 3, 18.2 ± 9.2) hit 10 drives each. Able-bodied golfers presented longer but less accurate drives (208.1 m carry, 4.6 m lateral deviation), and concomitant higher club head and ball velocity than disabled golfers (157.6 m carry, 6.O m lateral deviation) [p<O.OO1]. The apparent difference in outcome performance cannot be fully accounted for by the small difference in golf handicap score, thus disabled golfers appear to be penalised/disadvantaged by the current golf handicap classification rules.