Motor control of practice and actual strokes by professional and amateur golfers differ but feature a distance-dependent control strategy

Eur J Sport Sci. 2019 Oct;19(9):1204-1213. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2019.1595159. Epub 2019 Mar 28.


We explored how practice and actual putting strokes differed between professionals and high-level golf amateurs, and how practice strokes reflected subtle differences in putting distances. We analysed swing amplitude, impact velocity, and acceleration profile of the club-head. The acceleration profiles showed that the motor control pattern of the practice stroke differed from that of the actual stroke. To clarify the effects of different putting distances on the practice stroke and to analyse how much the actual stroke could be explained by the practice stroke, we conducted individual regression analyses. The practice strokes of all participants could be divided into three strategies and five types by the coefficient of determination and the slope. This implies that the purpose of the practice stroke varied among golfers. Most golfers used the individual velocity criteria in their practice strokes, which resulted in different putting distances based on their criteria. Unexpectedly, we found no significant difference in skill level between professionals and high-level amateurs. The results of this study imply that the practice stroke does not duplicate the actual stroke, even for professional golfers with excellent skills. However, most high-level golfers adopted distance-dependent control strategies for slightly different putting distances.

Keywords: Fine motor control; categorised type; kinematics; pre-shot phase; simulation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Golf / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills*