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Rutgers Biomedical Engineering Professor Solves Golf Grip Mysteries

  [ 212 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • March 19, 2003

A Rutgers biomedical engineering professor who invented an "all-at-once" way to measure head, eye and putter movements believes he has found the underlying reason some golfers gravitate toward unconventional hand positions while putting – less eye and head movement during certain types of strokes.

George K. Hung (who teaches at Rutgers under the Mandarin phonetic spelling George K. Shoane) found that, compared to conventional hand positions, cross-hand and one-hand grips fostered less eye movement during longer putts and less head movement during shorter putts. In a conventional grip, a person's dominant hand is the lower one on the club. A cross-hand grip places the dominant hand on top. One-hand grips use only one hand in the grip area.

"Golf instructors and sports psychologists have long taught the importance of minimal or no eye and head movement throughout the putting stroke," said Hung. "Now that we can measure and analyze eye, head and putter-head motion all at once during various swings, we can pinpoint which grip works best for a particular individual and why."

Hung will present his findings at the Association for Research in Vision and Opthamology (ARVO) annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His poster session, "Effect of Putting Grip on Eye and Head Movements During the Golf Putting Stroke," is scheduled for Thursday (May 9), 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Hall BC of the Broward Convention Center.

The patent-pending measurement method may eventually be adapted for use as a bio-feedback golf instruction tool, Hung said. "It would allow players to assess precisely when their own eye movement, head movement and putting style produce the most effective results."

Hung's tests were conducted with seven novice players putting on a platform of artificial turf at distances of three and nine feet from a hole. Each player wore a headset that measured head movement and eye movement during each stroke, while infrared sensors embedded in the platform recorded the motion of the putter head. All information was fed to a computer that produced a graphic readout of all motions, allowing for easy analysis.

The findings will be included in a chapter of a book to be published next year by Kluwer Academic/Plenum, "Biomedical Engineering Principles in Sports." Hung is co-editing the book with Jani M. Pallis of Cislunar Aerospace Inc. It will explore how advances in computer imaging, modeling and signal processing are creating new understanding about the physics, biomechanics and physiology of various sports. The book will specifically discuss golf, tennis, baseball, football, soccer and basketball.

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