Guest Post by:
Harris S. Slone, MD
Department of Orthopaedics
Medical University of South Carolina
Golf season is officially full swing. With exciting Masters and TPC tournaments in the books, and remaining PGA majors upcoming, many of us will hit the links this spring as well. There are over 27.8 million golfers in the US alone, and the average golfer plays around 37 rounds per year.
Golf is generally considered a safe sport. Surprisingly, the number of injuries in golf is higher than one might think. A recent study of Australian amateur golfers demonstrated that about 16% incidence of injury per year.1 The vast majority of golf injuries are “overuse” injuries, which is no surprising given the non-contact nature of the sport. Overuse injuries can be just as debilitating, and can require just a long of recovery as traumatic or acute injuries. Additionally, golf is enjoyed my athletes of all ages and skill levels, and a larger proportion of participants are older compared to other sports.
Most injuries in golf involve the upper extremity (elbow, hand and wrist) or back. These injuries are also related to the amount of golf played. Studies show that golfers who play 3-4 or more rounds per week, or those who hit more than 200 golf balls per week are more likely to sustain an overuse injury. 1,2
If most golf injuries are overuse injuries, it makes sense that these injuries may be more amenable to prevention, when compared to traumatic injuries. Many golfers fail to sufficiently warm up before a round, despite evidence to suggest that warming up reduces the risk of injury. Players who do not warm up are more than twice as likely to sustain an injury over the course of a year compared to players to regularly warm up for 10 minutes or more. 2
Don’t put the clubs away just yet! Here is the good news: over half of the golf related overuse injuries will resolve over the course of a month, and over 80% will improve over 6 months. The health benefits of golf are many, especially when choosing to walk the course as opposed to riding in a golf cart. Golfers who regularly walk the course are more likely to weigh less, have slimmer waists, lower “bad” cholesterol, and higher “good” cholesterol. 3 Now get out there and hit ‘em straight!
- McHardy A, Pollard H, Luo K. One-Year Follow-up Study on Golf Injuries in Australian Amateur Golfers. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2007;35(8):1354-1360. doi:10.1177/0363546507300188.
- Gosheger G, Liem D, Ludwig K, Greshake O, Winkelmann W. Injuries and Overuse Syndromes in Golf. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2003;31(3):438-443.
- Parkkari J, Natri A, Kannus P, et al. A controlled trial of the health benefits of regular walking on a golf course. The American Journal of Medicine. 2000;109(2):102-108.