Smoliga, J. M., Myers, J. B., Jolly, J. T., Sell, T. C., & Lephart, S. M. (2006). Highly proficient golfers exhibit greater consistency in driving ball flight characteristics than less proficient golfers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 2225.

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"It is believed that consistency of golf ball flight characteristics . . . is more indicative of golf proficiency than traditional measures of golf performance such as club velocity . . . and total driving distance (TD). Highly proficient golfers are believed to have more consistent [ball flight characteristics] between swings than less proficient golfers".

This study determined whether the consistency of ball flight characteristics differs between highly proficient golfers and less proficient golfers. Male golfers (N = 90) performed 10 golf swings with their own driver. A golf launch monitor was used to measure ball flight characteristics. Club [head] velocity, ball velocity (BV), vertical launch angle (VLA), horizontal launch angle (HLA), backspin (BS), carry distance, and total driving distance were calculated for each S using the five drives with the greatest total driving distance. Ss were grouped based on proficiency by USGA handicap: low (L: <8, N = 56), mid (M: 8-14.9, N = 25), and high handicap (H: 15, N = 9).

There were no significant differences between groups for backspin or club velocity consistency. The lack of significant differences between groups in club velocity indicates that golfers generate power with similar consistency. Significantly lower variability in vertical launch angle, horizontal launch angle, ball velocity, carry distance and total distance in the low handicap group compared with moderate and high handicap groups indicate that proficient golfers are more consistent in transferring the generated power to the ball, resulting in more consistent ball flight characteristics. The relationship between movement consistency and proficiency is further demonstrated by significantly lower variability for carry distance, total distance and ball velocity for the mid-handicap group compared to the high-handicap group.

Implication. Consistent ball flight characteristics are a key contributor to golf proficiency. That consistency is produced by better mechanics and less variable skill movements.

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