Despite the emergence of golf-specific training programs and training aids, relatively little research has been conducted examining the physical characteristics that are important to golf performance. We studied the strength, flexibility, and balance characteristics of golfers across 3 proficiency levels based on handicap index (HCP) (<=0, 1-9, and 10-20) to determine the physical characteristics unique to highly proficient golfers. A total of 257 (age: 45.5 +/- 12.8 years, height: 180.6 +/- 6.5 cm, weight: 87.9 +/- 12.6 kg) healthy, male golfers participated in the study. Testing included an assessment of strength (torso, shoulder, and hip), flexibility (torso, shoulder, and hip), and single-leg balance. Golfers in the highest proficiency group (HCP = 0) had significantly (p <= 0.05) greater hip strength, torso strength, shoulder strength, shoulder flexibility, hip flexibility, torso flexibility, and balance (eyes open) than golfers in the lowest proficiency group (HCP 10-20). The results of this study demonstrate that better golfers possess unique physical characteristics that are important to greater proficiency. These characteristics have also been demonstrated to be modifiable through golf-specific training programs.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association