Ergo on the golf course

Warmer weather means golf season is finally here! Whether you pick up a bucket at the driving range, or opt for the full 18-holes, golf is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Here are a few “ergo thoughts” regarding this sport.

Golf apparel has changed greatly over the years. (See Global Golf’s website for a brief history.) Players in the late 80’s showcased sleeker and more versatile clothing. 1996 marked the beginning of a new era in golf apparel, when Nike signed on Tiger Woods. Woods’ notoriety has popularized Nike Golf apparel, which is designed for high performance as well as fashion.

We don’t often see ergonomics applied in sport (or fashion), so we took notice of Tiger’s spring 2013 gear. In the article titled “Athletic Insights Drive Ergonomic Innovations in Tiger Woods Spring Collection”, Nike designers observed and worked with Woods to pinpoint what distracted him during his game. Adjustment of the collar and sleeves were found to be the greatest sources of distraction: “Tiger was typically adjusting his sleeves before he addressed the ball, moving the garment’s shoulder seam back as a way to mark his golf stance. Then after he followed through, he had to adjust and pull his sleeves back to the original position” (Nike Golf explains the design of the collection’s shirts: Increasing the fit between the golfer and his/her apparel is another application of ergonomics: to fit the work to the worker.

Another area of “ergonomic” innovation in this sport is the design of the golf bag. Golfers have many options for transporting golf clubs, including a carry bag, pull cart, or powered cart. The powered cart minimises handling demands, but it also diminishes the sport’s fitness benefits. A pull cart is better than carrying your equipment, from an ergo perspective, although pulling generally means using one hand in a somewhat twisting posture. New “push cart” designs are also available, which allow a more symmetrical posture and a stronger pushing force application. If you do carry your clubs, we recommend choosing a light weight bag with padded dual straps (like a backpack). The bag shown above offers wheels and straps, so when you find yourself in non-wheel-friendly terrain, you can carry it easily. The dual straps distribute the weight of the bag across both shoulders, reducing the risk of injury.

Golf coaches can give much better advice than we can regarding your swing, but surely this is another area of opportunity to “fit the task to the person”. If you look, you’ll find specialised clubs and tons of posture coaching advice.

Weather you golf, or just get out for a walk, enjoy the fresh air, now that it’s finally here!

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