Study Golf deemed a sport after all

By Associated PressDecember 22, 2008, 5:00 pm
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. ' Is golf really a sport or just a hobby?
 
Is it a good walk spoiled, or should we forget the walk and ask Santa for a golf cart this Christmas?
 
Would a PowerBar help more than an apple after nine holes, or should we forget em both and just wolf down another candy bar and Coke?
 
And do you really have to have Tiger Woods biceps to be any good?
 
A sports scientist pondering these and other 19th-hole kind of questions crunched a bunch of numbers and came up with answers, a few of which put a new twist on some age-old assumptions.
 
Among the top findings: Given the number of calories burned, its certainly OK to call golf a sport.
 
One of the more interesting things I found was that the actual act of swinging a golf club takes significant energy, said Neil Wolkodoff, director of the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver.
 
Maybe more energy than many people might think for a motion that takes a grand total of about 3 seconds.
 
Wolkodoff found eight male volunteers, ages 26 to 61 with handicaps between 2 and 17, strapped them into some state-of-the-art equipment and took them out for a few rounds of golf on the hilly front nine of Inverness Golf Club in suburban Denver.
 
(In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of the subjects, and I blame the somewhat bulky equipment for every bad shot I hit during the experiment.)
 
Wolkodoff discovered the subjects burned more calories when they walked and carried their clubs (721) than when they rode in a cart (411). When they walked, they traversed about 2.5 miles, compared to 0.5 miles when they rode, but the 500 percent increase in mileage corresponded to only a 75 percent increase in calories burned.
 
The conclusion was that the act of swinging the golf club could actually be considered good exercise ' a theory many on the not a sport side of the golf debate have long questioned.
 
As far as physical exertion, its not the same as boxing, but its definitely more than people thought, Wolkodoff said.
 
But before all you golf addicts cancel those gym memberships and turn the treadmill into a permanent coat rack, consider this: While the 2,884 calories the average player might burn by walking 36 holes a week is considered good for health (studies have shown that those who burn 2,500 calories a week improve their overall health by lowering their risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer), it will do little to improve fitness ' meaning it wont increase your overall aerobic capacity.
 
Another thing the study showed is that being fit directly affects your ability to play good golf.
 
You need to ask yourself, is the goal better fitness, or is it better fitness and better health? Wolkodoff said.
 
Wolkodoff will soon submit the results of his test to the Journal of Applied Physiology, the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
 
For the test, Wolkodoff strapped subjects into equipment that measured, among other things, their heart rate, oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production and how far they were walking. Each volunteer played four nine-hole rounds: one carrying the bag on their shoulder, one pushing the bag in a push-cart, one with a caddie and one in a golf cart.
 
All the subjects went through fitness tests before the experiment to establish what their baseline anaerobic thresholds were ' in other words, at what point they began to burn fuel without the help of oxygen. When people cross their anaerobic threshold, lactic acid begins to build, which makes muscles start to burn and causes fine-motor skills to deteriorate.
 
This is important in golf, especially for walkers, because the higher a players anaerobic threshold, the more ability the player has to hike up steep hills or walk long distances quickly without losing the motor skills needed to execute many shots.
 
When the motor skill start to go, you can get the yips, lose coordination, Wolkodoff said.
 
Among Wolkodoffs findings:
 
  • There was virtually no difference in calories burned between carrying (721) and using a push cart (718) ' a surprising result to many, who figured it would take more work to push the cart.
     
    Normally, calories are measured on how much weight you had to move up a hill, he said. But in this case, it shows that even with another 15, 16 pounds to push with the cart, youre more efficient at moving that way than if the bag is over your shoulder.
     
    Not surprisingly, walking the course with a caddie carrying the clubs burned fewer calories (613) and playing while riding in a cart burned even fewer (411).
     
    The fact that the energy consumed while carrying and pushing is nearly identical could bolster the idea that players using push carts get no competitive advantage over those who carry. The American Junior Golf Association recently decided to allow non-motorized carts in tournament play, in part to decrease back stress on young players.
     
  • Players in Wolkodoffs tests scored best when using push carts and playing with a caddie. Their nine-hole averages (40 with push cart, 42 with caddie) were better than when riding in the motor cart (43).
     
    Wolkodoff said that offered proof there could be a benefit to walking the course'the way many golf purists insist the game should be played'that outweighs the benefit of resting while driving to your ball in the cart.
     
    It gets back to the idea that walking gives you a certain amount of time to think about a shot, to rehearse, go through the stuff, he said. Where in a golf cart, youre holding on, then, boom, youve got to get up, go to the ball and make a decision pretty quickly.
     
    But the benefit of walking didnt outweigh the stress of looping the bag on and off your shoulder 40 or 50 times and lugging it around the course over the span of two hours. The average scores for the walk-and-carry rounds was 45.
     
    Some people say, I play better golf when Im carrying, Wolkodoff said. But this study says, No. A carry bag is not necessarily better. Its not an intuitive thought for people.
     
  • Players reached their peak heart rates at the top of two taxing, uphill holes. When they were carrying or pushing the cart, the peak heart rates went past their anaerobic thresholds, and Wolkodoff noticed a marked spike in scoring on the tougher of the two holes under these circumstances.
     
    He attributes it to the buildup in lactic acid, which decreases fine motor skills.
     
    Returning below the threshold took 2 minutes to 3 minutes in some cases. So, the advice is, get in better shape to increase the anaerobic threshold so you dont find yourself going over it while playing golf. Good ways to improve golf fitness would be doing intervals on a treadmill or taking a spinning class.
     
    Weightlifting can come into play, too, Wolkodoff said. As you go up a hill, whether youre carrying your own body weight, or a carry bag or a push cart, the stronger your arms and legs are, the better you can make it up that hill without fatigue.
     
  • Wolkodoff measured subjects respiratory exchange ratio (RER), which can be used to determine which fuels ' carbs or fats ' are being used during exercise. The RERs for all four tests were between 0.85 and 0.88, meaning players had shifted from burning all fat to using equal amounts of fats and carbohydrates, but hadnt yet reached the point where they were burning all carbs.
     
    It means an energy bar with the approximately the same combination of what the players are burning ' like a Zone or Balance Bar ' is optimal for replenishment, and probably better than pure carbohydrates, such as the apple we often see Woods eating on the course or a bag of pretzels.
     
    Not that its any knock on Tigers diet.
     
    The thing with Tiger is, hes not just eating the apple, Wolkodoff said. Hes had a good meal beforehand. If he had a regular Gatorade, thats the equivalent of eating five apples. If he eats one apple per round, or one per nine, hes just doing it to add a little energy and maybe fill up his stomach.
     
    So, is golf a sport?
     
    Answer: It certainly is A sport, but probably not The Only sport you would need to play if you really want to get fit. But getting fit on the treadmill or in the weight room will definitely diminish fatigue on the golf course and, in turn, help you play better.
     
    The study shows theres significant energy expenditure in golf, more than bowling and some other sports its been compared to, Wolkodoff said. There are a lot of sports that dont have this level of energy expenditure.
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    Furyk: Not a 'good idea' to team Tiger, Phil at Ryder Cup

    By Ryan LavnerJune 25, 2018, 1:12 pm

    Those hoping for another Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson partnership at the Ryder Cup might be sorely disappointed.

    U.S. captain Jim Furyk all but slammed the door on the reboot Monday on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive.” Speaking at the CVS Health Charity Classic, Furyk laughed off the idea and said that it wouldn’t be a “good idea” for him to team them again.

    “It worked out so well the first time,” he said, chuckling, referring to the 2004 matches, where captain Hal Sutton paired the sport’s two biggest stars and watched them go 0-2 en route to a lopsided team defeat at home.

    Colin Montgomerie, who was also on the set and a member of that ’04 European squad, chimed in: “It was a great decision for Europe!”

    Woods and Mickelson’s relationship has improved in recent years, since they were part of the task force that morphed into the Ryder Cup committee. They even played a practice round together this year at the Masters. But Furyk seemed to suggest even that wouldn’t be enough to put them together again in Paris.

    “I hope they’re both watching, because they just fell off the couch laughing,” Furyk said. “I wouldn’t guess that would be a good idea as a captain, I’m just saying.”

    Both Mickelson and Woods are outside the top 8 automatic qualifiers. Mickelson is currently ranked 10th, while Woods is now 39th.

    Woods has already been named a vice captain for this year’s matches, though Furyk said that Woods had broached the topic of being a playing vice captain as early as January. Furyk added that he hasn’t discussed what Woods would need to show him over the course of the year to be considered for a captain’s pick.

    “He hasn’t played as big of a schedule as everybody else,” Furyk said, “but when he has played, he’s played pretty well. Definitely an eye-opener for everyone.”

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    Grandma hopes sick JT has some 's***-kicking antibiotics'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 25, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Justin Thomas tied for 56th at the Travelers Championship, still recovering from a brutal test at the U.S. Open and, apparently, battling an illness.

    Thomas is next competing at this week's French Open, along with the likes of Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and a host of potential Ryder Cup foes.

    Count his grandmother as one who is pulling – really, really pulling – for his physical recovery.



    Grandmothers are the best. And as you can make out from the top of the text exchange, she finally figured out what was on JT’s pants in Round 1 at Shinnecock Hills.

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    What's in the bag: Travelers champion Watson

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:22 pm

    Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

    Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

    Fairway wood:  Ping G (13.2 degrees), with Fujikura Tour Spec 8.2 X shaft

    Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

    Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 55 degrees, 63 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

    Putter: Ping PLD Anser

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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    Travelers purse payout: Bubba, Cink close low, earn big

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:06 pm

    Bubba Watson shot 63 on Sunday to win the Travelers Championship. He took home the trophy, but he wasn't the only player to earn a big payday. Here's how the purse was paid out at TPC River Highlands:

    1 Bubba Watson -17 $1,260,000
    T2 Stewart Cink -14 $462,000
    T2 Beau Hossler -14 $462,000
    T2 J.B. Holmes -14 $462,000
    T2 Paul Casey -14 $462,000
    T6 Kevin Tway -13 $234,500
    T6 Brian Harman -13 $234,500
    T6 Russell Henley -13 $234,500
    T9 Chase Seiffert -12 $189,000
    T9 Bryson DeChambeau -12 $189,000
    T9 Anirban Lahiri -12 $189,000
    T12 Rory McIlroy -11 $147,000
    T12 Ryan Blaum -11 $147,000
    T12 Jason Day -11 $147,000
    T15 Charley Hoffman -10 $115,500
    T15 Patrick Cantlay -10 $115,500
    T15 Danny Lee -10 $115,500
    T15 Kyle Stanley -10 $115,500
    T19 Brooks Koepka -9 $79,000
    T19 Fabian Gomez -9 $79,000
    T19 David Lingmerth -9 $79,000
    T19 Zach Johnson -9 $79,000
    T19 Emiliano Grillo -9 $79,000
    T19 Matt Jones -9 $79,000
    T19 Jamie Lovemark -9 $79,000
    T26 Sam Ryder -8 $49,700
    T26 Si Woo Kim -8 $49,700
    T26 Richy Werenski -8 $49,700
    T26 Blayne Barber -8 $49,700
    T26 Steve Marino -8 $49,700
    T26 Peter Malnati -8 $49,700
    T26 Patrick Rodgers -8 $49,700
    T33 Alex Cejka -7 $39,550
    T33 Tyler Duncan -7 $39,550
    T33 Kevin Streelman -7 $39,550
    T36 Seamus Power -6 $35,175
    T36 James Hahn -6 $35,175
    T38 Scott Stallings -5 $30,800
    T38 Russell Knox -5 $30,800
    T38 Brandon Harkins -5 $30,800
    T38 Lanto Griffin -5 $30,800
    T42 Adam Hadwin -4 $24,500
    T42 J.J. Henry -4 $24,500
    T42 Jordan Spieth -4 $24,500
    T42 Mackenzie Hughes -4 $24,500
    T42 Brett Stegmaier -4 $24,500
    T47 Billy Hurley III -3 $17,578
    T47 Vaughn Taylor -3 $17,578
    T47 Sam Saunders -3 $17,578
    T47 Kelly Kraft -3 $17,578
    T47 Keegan Bradley -3 $17,578
    T47 J.J. Spaun -3 $17,578
    T47 Wesley Bryan -3 $17,578
    T47 Denny McCarthy -3 $17,578
    T47 Scott Brown -3 $17,578
    T56 Ryan Armour -2 $15,680
    T56 Keith Mitchell -2 $15,680
    T56 Ken Duke -2 $15,680
    T56 Justin Thomas -2 $15,680
    T56 Hunter Mahan -2 $15,680
    T61 John Huh -1 $14,910
    T61 Martin Laird -1 $14,910
    T61 Steve Wheatcroft -1 $14,910
    T61 James Driscoll -1 $14,910
    T61 Tom Lovelady -1 $14,910
    T61 Nick Hardy -1 $14,910
    T67 Daniel Berger E $14,350
    T67 Trey Mullinax E $14,350
    T69 Cameron Tringale 1 $14,000
    T69 Kyle Thompson 1 $14,000
    T69 Ethan Tracy 1 $14,000
    T72 Dominic Bozzelli 2 $13,650
    T72 Martin Flores 2 $13,650
    74 Padraig Harrington 4 $13,440