Many of our patients are avid golfers, as is Dr. Garrett. There is nothing quite like the sound and feel of a well-hit drive! In trying to determine the importance of hearing on your golf game, we ran across an article from the June 2005 issue of Golf Digest which makes some pretty interesting assertions about the importance of good hearing for your golf game.
Here are a few interesting quotes from the article, written by Peter Morrice:
The Importance Of The Right Sound
“SEVERAL YEARS AGO, DEAN SNELL, senior director of research and development for TaylorMade, conducted a study on how well scratch golfers could distinguish between hard- and soft-cover golf balls. Each player was asked to hit a sampling of balls, half of them two-piece distance balls and the other half softer wound balls. The players correctly identified the ball they had hit every time. Then they were asked to put on headphones and hit the balls again while a recording of the impact sound played in their ears. The outcome was the same: They accurately identified each ball. In a final trial, Snell and his associates played the impact sound of the opposite-type ball in the players’ headphones, so the players heard soft-ball impact on hard-ball shots, and vice versa. The results were again amazingly consistent, only this time the players guessed incorrectly 100 percent of the time.
What does this study tell us? These expert golfers distinguished ball type by whichever sound they heard, not by any other sensory impressions. They used their hearing to determine feel. Snell and his team had known that sound played a part in feel, but these results were staggering, particularly given the skill level of the testers. Not only did these players make decisions based on sound, they did so quickly and unequivocally. And without knowing how they did it. They simply reported what they thought to be true, not knowing that their ears were making the call.”
What Happens When You Can’t Hear On The Course
“Except for equipment, the sound factor in golf has been largely overlooked. But that’s not to say it’s a new subject. Frank Thomas, the U.S. Golf Association’s technical director from 1974-2000 and now Golf Digest‘s Chief Technical Advisor, remembers seeing Don January tee off with a scarf wrapped around his ears on one particularly cold day at the Masters in the early ’70s. “He drove off the first tee and just winced, thinking he’d hit an awful shot, but the ball was perfect, down the middle,” Thomas says. “He didn’t hear it, so he thought he missed it terribly. I’ll tell you, he couldn’t get that scarf off fast enough, stuffing it in his bag for the rest of the day. Without sound, he had no feel.”
The Case Of Arnold Palmer
“Arnold Palmer is an interesting case for another reason: He started experiencing hearing loss in his early 40s and has played with hearing aids for almost 30 years. “Your eyes are key on the golf course,” he says, “but I can tell you that your ears are equally important to playing good golf.”
How well does Palmer, revered for his instinctive, shoot-from-the-hip style of play, perform without hearing assistance? “Without my aids,” he says, “I lose all feel for what I want to do.”
Testing The Impact of Hearing On Normal Golfers
Clearly golf ‘s top players listen to their games, but we wanted to find out how sound affects the average golfer. We commissioned Golf Laboratories, an independent testing firm in San Diego, to run a series of player tests.
* Middle-handicappers hit iron shots to a green 150 yards away, wearing earmuffs for half of the shots. Results showed that testers hit the green 67 percent of the time without earmuffs compared to 53 percent with them. Not hearing definitely had a negative impact on the testers’ performance.
Using Hearing As Biofeedback to Improve Your Game
Dr. Richard Coop, a sport psychologist and educational psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also believes that the anticipation of sound can translate into biomechanics. Coop has worked with more than 100 professional golfers on the major tours in the past 25 years, including Lee Janzen, Corey Pavin and Payne Stewart, and has seen firsthand how sensory anticipation can shape technique.
“Certain moves in the golf swing can be coded to a particular sound,” Coop says. “For instance, the swoosh of the club during the release or the thump of the sand on a bunker shot can reinforce the feel of the correct swing. In the best cases, the player’s mechanics are coded to a certain feel, and that feel can definitely be a sound.”
Coop says golfers who successfully link a sound to correct mechanics will do a lot of things well just by trying to reproduce the sound. For example, to create the bunker thump, players have to use the club’s bounce and accelerate through the sand. Rather than trying to produce these moves, players can focus on the sound, provided they have practiced enough to establish a meaningful link between sound and swing. If the link is strong, a good shot can be as simple as stepping up and making the sound.”
If you are interested in a free hearing test with one of our award winning Audiologists, give us a call at 801-770-0801.