Golf is a club and ball sport. The main aim of golf is to hit the ball and make it land in the hole or cup installed on the golf course in as few strokes as possible. A good golf shot primarily depends on the accurate implementation of technique rather than power and force. Every golfer has his/her own technique of golf swing; however, an ideal golf swing can be obtained by following proper biomechanics. The biomechanics involved in a golf swing is considered somewhat complicated. To improve the performance and achieve a good shot, the golfer’s muscles and joints must work in proper coordination and generate a suitable amount of force and tension. Proper study and implementation of the biomechanics of a golf swing may help the golfer achieve an ideal golf shot without any injuries.
Phases of a Golf Swing
A golf swing basically has four main phases, namely, set up, the backswing, the downswing, and follow-through.
Set up or Approach
The initial phase of a golf swing is called the set-up or approach phase. It forms the base of the golf swing. The main focus of the player during this phase is to maintain a good body posture. The player’s body must be properly aligned to the ball, establishing dynamic and static balance. To achieve this, approximately 50-60% of the golfer’s weight should be on the back foot. The stance taken by the golfer or the gap between the golfer’s feet is proportional to the width of the support base and the range of the movement available at his/her hips and legs, which is why it should not be too wide or too narrow. If the stance is too wide, it tends to affect the rotation of the hips, while if it is too narrow, it affects the steadiness and blocks the full use of the movement of the legs. The right lateral shoulder should be tilted at an angle approximately equal to 16 degrees. The grip on the golf stick should be firm and effective to ensure a good shot. Also, the golfer must maintain stability. The principle of stability states that the lower the centre of gravity the larger will be the base of support. Also, the closer the centre of gravity is to the base or support, the greater is the steadiness of the player. For this purpose, the athlete should bend his/her knees a little. The displacement covered by the ball after being hit and the probability of it reaching the hole depends on the accurate execution of this set-up phase.
The second most important phase of a golf swing is the backswing phase. After setting up proper body posture and an accurate alignment with the ball, the golfer swings the golf stick in the backward direction. The swing is extended to an extreme angle. The main purpose of the backswing is to establish an effective position for the downswing. A significant amount of kinetic energy is produced by initiating motion in the stick. This energy is then transferred to the ball during the impact. When the golf stick is moved in the backward direction, a significant amount of sheer force gets transferred to the foremost portion of the right foot. At the same time, sheer force is transferred to the inner side of the left foot. It further gets transformed into the torsion force required to turn the body and hit the ball. The muscles of the hips, spine, knees, shoulders, and other body parts tend to undergo a rotational motion. The order followed during the rotation with respect to a central axis aligned to the centre of the body is knees, hips, and torso. The swing supports the player and supplies the energy required to perform the backswing and downswing. The impact force produced upon hitting the ball improves when the backswing phase is improved. Also, speed development takes place in this phase. Rotation in the lower body parts, such as legs, hips, knees, and other body parts depends on a number of physical parameters such as joint range of motion, muscular extensibility, stretch reflex, and segmental strength in the lower body, hips, core, and upper back. If the athlete lacks any of these parameters, he/she is more likely to suffer a diminished toque and hence a bad shot.
After performing the backswing, the player tends to move towards the next phase of the golf swing, i.e., the downswing phase. In this phase, the player shifts his weight onto the left foot while moving the pelvis towards the intentional and imaginary target line. On performing this particular movement of the body, a significant amount of kinetic energy gets produced, which then is circulated as a chain force applied onto the front side of the right foot and inner portion of the left foot. In the case of a right-handed golfer, this generates a counterclockwise torque, while in the case of a left-handed golfer the direction of torque produced gets reversed. The torque generated by the lower body of the player then gets transferred to his/her torso with the production of an additional amount of energy that gets linked to the structure of the lumbo, the pelvic, and the hip complex, which creates a counter-clockwise acceleration of the upper pendulum.
After the impact force is produced or after the stick hits the ball, the follow-through stage begins. This is the final stage that completes the biomechanics of a golf swing. This includes the position of the club behind the golfer and is performed by rotating the body till the completion point is reached, The kinetic energy possessed by the golf stick due to the backswing and downswing slowly fades away. A portion of the energy gets transferred to the ball, while the rest portion gets dissipated in the form of heat and friction. This is the deceleration phase of the golf swing where the initial position, speed, and state of the body is returned, The body gets slowed down slowly.