Evaluation of vibrotactile sensations in the 'feel' of a golf shot

Players’ subjective perceptions of the characteristics, suitability and quality of sports equipment will have a significant bearing on their equipment selection. The ‘feel’ of a golf club is such a perception and the vibration at impact perceived by the player is generally considered to contribute significantly to ‘feel’. The aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between golfers’ subjective perceptions of the feel of a shot and the post-impact vibration of a club. Suitable test procedures were developed to quantify the golfers’ perceptions and to obtain measurements of vibration at the hands. The five feel characteristics investigated, ‘pleasantness’, ‘hardness’, ‘solidity’, ‘liveliness’ and perceived vibration level, were found to be strongly correlated; shots that were regarded as having a pleasant feel were also rated as having felt solid, lively, soft and with little vibration perceived. When these ratings were correlated with raw measurements of impact vibration, the relationships were initially weak. Techniques, such as normalizing the data, weighting the data and using mean data, were developed, resulting in much stronger correlations. Ultimately, a reduction in the total rms vibration level was found to correlate well with the players’ subjective descriptions of ‘pleasant’, ‘solid’, ‘lively’ and ‘soft’ feel.