Date of Award


Document Type



Physical Therapy

First Advisor

David Relling


Golf fitness program, Community based service learning, Physical therapy


PROBLEM: Golf is a fast-growing sport that is played by people all around the world of all ages and skill levels. The complexity of the golf swing and varying skill levels of participants leads to increased risk for injury. Acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries can occur to the lumbar spine, shoulders, wrists, and elbows. The injuries are common among amateur, intermediate, and professional golfers. Studies show that the overall rate of injury in golfers is 15-20%. This is a surprisingly high amount of injuries for a low-impact sport. Physical therapists are an important healthcare provider for individuals with musculoskeletal injuries. The educational curriculum for physical therapists provides opportunities to perform various examination and treatment skills although much of this practice is performed on classmates with negligible musculoskeletal limitations. A golf fitness program performed by physical therapist students under the direction of a licensed physical therapist could minimize the risk of musculoskeletal injuries to golfers with evaluation of golfing movements and general fitness recommendations. Therefore, a golf fitness program could provide a needed community service and help develop the examination and communication skills of future physical therapists.

PROCEDURE/METHODS: A review of multiple research databases (DynaMed, MD Consult, InfoPOEMS, PubMed, CINAHL, etc.) was used to identify current literature related to optimal golf swing mechanics and common golf related musculoskeletal injuries. Physical therapy and exercise science literature was obtained to identify musculoskeletal limitations in range of motion and strength that are commonly linked to golf-related injuries. The golf injury information and optimal swing mechanics were developed into a comprehensive pre-golf musculoskeletal screening process. The screening process was presented to a small group of young adult golfers for feedback and recommendations. The small group feedback was incorporated to develop a final pre-golf evaluation form and process that can be used by the UND Department of Physical Therapy as a community service activity for first- or second-year students in the professional DPT program.

RESULTS: The final product is a comprehensive, pre-golf fitness and swing evaluation program. The program may be implemented in the spring semester when golfers are preparing for the upcoming summer season. The popularity of golf and high number of golf related injuries should drive interest in the program. The benefits to the current DPT students and local golfing community are symbiotic. Physical therapist students participating in the program may use this opportunity to enhance their evaluation and communication skills while golfers benefit from the comprehensive golf assessment program.