Functional variability in golf putting differentiates between highly skilled players

Mark G.l. Sayers, Max C. Stuelcken and Adam D. Gorman

School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD Australia

The aim of this study was to determine whether differences in putting accuracy in highly skilled golfers could be explained by functional variability. Ten, male single-figure handicap golfers completed 18 two-metre putts. The position of the putter was recorded using a three-dimensional motion capture system. The results from regression analyses revealed that the more accurate participants exhibited greater variability in the swing path of the putter across test trials, suggesting that putting proficiency in highly skilled individuals may be explained, in part, by a greater capacity to adapt the stroke through the use of functional variability. There was also evidence to suggest that all participants, irrespective of their putting accuracy, exhibited reduced movement variability at the point at which the putter head made contact with the ball, relative to the variability of the putter head at the end of the backswing.

Keywords: Adaptability, Expertise, Functional variability, Golf putting