The relationships between driver clubhead presentation characteristics, ball launch conditions and golf shot outcomes

Nils F Betzler, Stuart A Monk, Eric S Wallace, Steve R Otto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to analyse the effects of clubhead presentation on golf ball launch conditions and the subsequent shot outcome. Clubhead presentation was measured using a three-dimensional motion capture system for both male and female golfers across a range of skill levels. A Doppler radar was used to track the golf ball during its flight, yielding speed, launch angles, spin rate and distance. Importantly, the measurements of clubhead and ball quantities were taken independently so that any inter-relationships could be evaluated without recourse to any preconceived models. This article provides values for the median launch conditions and shot outcome, and the associated variability in these quantities for golfers was grouped by handicap category and gender. It was shown that the variability in certain outcome quantities was more linked to golfing ability than others. Linear regression was used to demonstrate that differences inclubhead presentation resulted in changes to ball launch conditions as one might expect from physical analysis. Furthermore, the link between the variability in clubhead presentation and the variability in shot outcome was demonstrated. In particular, the importance of impact location variability in determining launch angle and total distance variability was shown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-249
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 18 Nov 2014


  • Golf
  • launch conditions
  • clubhead speed
  • club path
  • impact location
  • impact position
  • shot outcome
  • driving distance
  • variability


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