Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

26

Visual performance differences among professional, amateur, and senior amateur golfers

B. Coffey, A.W. Reichow, T. Johnson

Pacific University College of Optometry, Forest Grove, Oregon, USA


and S. Yamane

VISTAKON, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Abstract

This study compared the visual performance characteristics of three groups of golfers: PGA Tour Players, amateurs, and senior amateurs. Several visual abilities related to the visual task demands of golf were measured and subjected to comparative statistical analysis. Visual performance was found to be related to both golf expertise and age. The PGA Tour Players demonstrated better visual acuity (clarity of eyesight), contrast sensitivity (ability to see subtle visual contours), and stereopsis (one aspect of depth perception). On these measures, the senior, high-handicap golfers generally demonstrated the poorest performance. No differences between the groups were found for fixation disparity (visual alignment error), nor for incidence of mixed eye-hand preference. These results have application in development programs for junior golfers and in enhancement programs for golfers who have experienced age-related visual changes.

Keywords: Golf, Vision, Visual Performance, Visual Acuity, Contrast Sensitivity, Stereopsis, Fixation Disparity, Eye-Hand Preference.


1 Introduction

Success in nearly all sports is highly dependent upon the accurate processing of visual information. Golf, unlike sports that are dynamic and reactive, allows the athlete ample time to gather visual information about the target and the area surrounding the target. If the visual information provided by multiple assessments of the target situation is consistent and accurate, the golfer feels confident about the shot. If the visual information is variable or inconsistent, the golfer may experience uncertainty and a decrease in confidence when approaching the ball.

We have previously reported that instability in two-eyed visual alignment (unstable fixation disparity) is related to inconsistency in putting alignment, and that golfers who have unstable putting alignment tend to have larger amounts of error in the putt endpoint (Coffey, et al., 1990). The results of that study suggested that individuals with esophoria, a condition in which the eyes tend to aim closer than the true target location, were more likely to experience inconsistent visual information regarding target location. Head and eye position have been shown to affect measures of visual alignment. The visual alignment tendency shifts toward esophoria when the head or eyes are moved away from the primary position of gaze and into the non-primary head/eye positions common in golf putting (Coffey, et al., 1991). Also, the physiological stress response has an indirect influence on the visual alignment system and can cause a shift toward esophoria for susceptible individuals (Birnbaum, 1993).

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-168-

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