May 4, 2015
Jeff Broker used shoes to study the golf swing.
As a part of his research in sport and orthopedic biomechanics, Broker adapted a system that measures insole pressure in shoes to analyze grip pressure on a golf club.
This is one aspect of the golf swing that Broker, chair and professor in the biology department and PGA golf management program instructor, often looks at in class in tandem with his students.
“I basically wrapped a very thin sensor around the golf grip and then was able to determine where all the pressure points were on the hands,” Broker said.
“I could map where those were on the club using this instrumentation and then I could track those areas of the club during the swing to see where pressures develop and how they develop.”
His class, developed in 2003 to help fulfill the PGA requirement of an anatomy and physiology course in the PGM program, takes elements of sport science and applies them to the golf swing. Biomechanics, sport nutrition, swing plane theory, motor learning and everything in between is researched.
“We study the muscles, the ligaments, the bones with the interest being how does the skeleton and the nervous system and the muscular system support the golf swing,” Broker said.
Research projects in the class are conducted with students at the swing lab in Dwire Hall. The golf swing is looked at with elements such as grip pressure, reading greens, sequencing and motion parameters, skill acquisition and changing the swing using training devices.
“We develop from these projects an opportunity for the students to be scientists,” said Broker, who incorporates student swings into his own research.
“It’s very helpful, to see the more technical aspect,” said sophomore PGM major Jamie Griffin. “It all applies and it’s really cool to see how it relates scientifically to golf.”
The research is often presented at the World Scientific Congress of Golf, usually every 4 years, said Broker. Currently, clubs that encourage proper impact positioning are being studied.
According to Broker, students in the PGA golf management program often look to become club professionals or directors of instruction. Through his class, he helps students differentiate themselves from the thousands of people in those professions.
“If you’re a new club pro or a new teacher, what’s going to separate you is your ability to offer something at a higher level to your clients,” he said.
Broker aims to develop critical thinking and a foundation of the science behind golf. The “higher level” not only means an understanding of swing theory, but also orthopedic limitations, unique injuries for golfers and sports psychology.
“It’s the ultimate blend of the mental and the physical,” Broker said. “We’re trying to give them a tool bag to separate these thousands and thousands of instructors out there that simply have a video camera and know something about golf.”
“It would be very difficult to teach myself what he teaches us,” said Griffin.
Broker’s goal in his class is to have students be scientific and serve as their own coach.
“Ultimately, I’m hoping to help get them to be more critical about their own swing and understand it and help somebody else with that.”