Loughborough University
Thesis-2002-Roberts.pdf (11.52 MB)

Mechanical and psychological influences on the 'feel' of a golf shot

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posted on 2013-09-10, 14:15 authored by Jonathan R. Roberts
Modem day sports players enjoy an ever-increasing range of equipment from which to choose and their selection is often based on physical and technical parameters, such as power, speed, distance and accuracy. In an attempt to increase their market shate, manufactuters have applied advanced technologies to the design and development of sports equipment to increase the 'perfonnance' of their products. These benefits may only be realised, however, if the player feels physically and psychologically comfortable using the equipment and these factors can only be investigated through the assessment of subjective human perceptions. Focusing on a group of elite golfers, this study presents a formalised approach for eliciting and structuring players' descriptions of their perception of sports equipment in use. Qualitative methods of inquiry were used to generate perceptions from a group of professional golfers (n = 15) during play testing. Ten dimensions of a golf shot of significance to the players emerged from an inductive analysis of their responses. In addition, fifteen themes emerged which suggested that there were relationships between the dimensions. A new technique, entitled structuted relationship modelling, was developed to illustrate these associations. From the results, a postal questionnaire was designed to determine the feel of an 'ideal' golf shot and the relative importance of the emergent dimensions from a wider sample of golfers. Initial testing was conducted to investigate variations in the duration of a golf impact with different equipment and the subsequent effect on the golfers' perceptions. Clubhead type, ball construction, ball compression and clubhead speed were all found to have a significant effect on impact duration but, despite the perceptions they reported, golfers were unable to accurately perceive the differences. Characteristics of the feel of a golf shot related to the sound or vibration from impact were investigated further during a series of tests where objective data measured from impact was correlated with the perceptions of golfers, measured using rating scales. In a study of tactile sensations, the sound of the impact was masked and the measured vibration was correlated with golfers ratings of the feel of the shot. In a study of the sound of a golf shot, the sound from impact was measured at two locations and correlated with the golfers responses. In both studies, significant correlations were discovered between parameters of the sound and vibration and the golfers' ratings, the strongest correlations being with the sound data. llis is the first study to identify all of the characteristics of a golf shot that influence a golfer's perception of the equipment and to analyse so extensively the subjective and objective data from impact



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Jonathan Roberts

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University

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  • en

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    Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering Theses