Photo from RobLabritz(dot)com of Rob Labritz at the 2017 Mastercard Westchester PGA Championship.
Photo from RobLabritz(dot)com of Rob Labritz at the 2017 Mastercard Westchester PGA Championship.

Biomechanics of the Perfect Golf Swing

Rob Labritz at the 2017 Mastercard Westchester PGA Championship. Courtesy of RobLabritz.com.

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About This Episode

This week on Playing with Science, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice take a look at the science that is making golf swings that much sweeter, from biomechanics to cutting edge technology like 3d motion capture and sensors in golf clubs. Helping them out are sport biomechanist “Dr. Phil” Cheetham, who is also the Senior Sport Technologist for the US Olympic Committee, and pro golfer Rob Labritz, who recently won the PGA Westchester Championship. First up, Dr. Phil explains the leading joint hypothesis, and why the perfect swing starts with the legs and the pelvis. Find out how the power of an elite golfer’s swing, which accelerates from 0-120 mph in a quarter of a second, develops throughout the steps in the kinematic sequence, governed by Newton’s laws of motion and reaching 20gs of acceleration at the moment of the club head’s impact with the ball. You’ll learn why golfers are plagued by lower back injuries, and how the explosive motion (thrust and lift, rotation and tilt) of a golf swing transmits energy through the lower back, resulting in enormous stress. Dr. Phil also tells Chuck and Gary how all golfers, even weekend warriors, can benefit from increased physical conditioning and strengthening their linear and rotational core muscle strength. Discover how players from more varied backgrounds, with different body types, genetics, and faster twitching muscles are pushing the envelope when it comes to the long game. Rob shares some of his experiences on the links, including why he thinks Tiger Woods was so intimidating when he was at the top of his game and why Phil Mickelson’s longevity may make him the best golfer of his era. Finally, both Rob and Phil talk about how advances in technology are changing the game, from club heads that are mission-built for any type of situation to tracking devices using GPS and Doppler radar to deliver analytics about clubs, balls, and even environmental conditions.

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