Informing golf equipment construction through golfer biomechanics

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Wolfson Sch of Mech, Elec & Manufac Eng


The manipulation of sporting equipment to match an individual's movement patterns or anthropometrics is prevalent in numerous sports. In the golf industry, personalisation of golf clubs is available to both professionals and amateurs, with the aim to provide an optimal club that will improve performance. While club fitting is prevalent in the industry, little evidence exists for the efficacy of the process in prescribing an optimal club to an individual. The current fitting process uses a series of static measurements to find a baseline club, followed by the golfer hitting multiple shots with slightly modified clubs to find a set up that produces optimal impact parameters and ball flight. This trial and error process is inefficient and may not result in a repeatable outcome. This research project, therefore, has two key aims. The first aim is to understand and assess the current processes used during golf club custom fitting. The second aim is to analyse the effect of using golf clubs with differing mechanical properties on golfer biomechanics and performance to inform the development of a recommendation engine that uses golfer biomechanics to predict optimal club specifications. This will decrease the number of shots required to perform a fitting, while increasing the trust both golfers and fitters have in the recommendations made.
The approach to create this recommendation engine will firstly focus on understanding the methods and tools that fitters currently use. Using qualitative analysis techniques, fitters will be observed and interviewed to understand the current processes used, their beliefs on the effectiveness of the process and the future directions of golf club fitting. Secondly, the efficacy of golf club fitting will be analysed through a longitudinal study. By monitoring golfers for a prolonged period of time before and after a custom fitting, the immediate effects of using a 'correctly fitted' set of golf clubs will be analysed, as well as the long term effects of how a golfer adapts to the new clubs over time. Once the current state of custom fitting has been analysed, this project will investigate how manipulating mechanical characteristics of clubs will affect the biomechanics and performance of golfers. This will allow an understanding of the tolerances that mechanical properties of a club can be changed before golfer's biomechanics and performance are affected. From the kinetic and kinematic profiles exhibited, golfers will be categorised into groups with similar biomechanical patterns to understand if they share common optimal club properties. This will feed into the development of the recommendation engine which will seek to evaluate the biomechanical profile of a golfer to suggest the mechanical properties of a golf club that will optimise their game.
This novel approach to golf club customisation seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Engineering Design process. The primary beneficiaries will be equipment manufacturers, club fitters and the golfers themselves, however , the approach used could easily be adapted for other sectors where the analysis of human-product interactions could lead to more optimal designs for a particular user.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509516/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
2132504 Studentship EP/N509516/1 01/10/2018 31/03/2022 Josh Sumner
EP/R513088/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2023
2132504 Studentship EP/R513088/1 01/10/2018 31/03/2022 Josh Sumner