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Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance

Over time, players less able to transfer weight on shots, so being in shape can improve scores

FRIDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- If you walk rather than ride a cart when you golf, you'll be adding more exercise to your life -- and maybe more strokes to your score, a new report suggests.

When walking 18 holes, a golfer's swing and mechanics change for the worse, causing the player to hit the ball with less distance and accuracy, according to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, May 28-31, in Indianapolis.

Researchers studied seven recreational golfers, who typically average a score between 80 and 95, who walked while carrying a weighted golf bag during a simulated golf game. The one female and six male golfers walked 6 miles in total in 1-mile increments. Before the first mile, and after each subsequent mile, each player hit 20 tee shots, totaling 140 tee shots for the round.

Researchers found that over time, the golfers were less able to properly transfer weight to their front leg on a swing, resulting in less club head velocity that could affect how far the ball would travel. The study also showed that over time, the angles of the front knee and ankle at the top the swing changed, a development that could affect a shot's accuracy.

"I think many golfers are realizing that their bodies are the most important tool they have in the golf swing, and that improving physical fitness may be more helpful than expensive golf clubs," researcher Nick R. Higdon said in a prepared statement. "The study suggests that golf mechanics change and performance may decline the longer the golfer walks and swings. Getting in better shape may help golfers combat the effects of fatigue while playing golf."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about sports fitness.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American College of Sports Medicine, news release, May 29, 2008

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