This research was published as part of the Proceedings of the International Society of Biomechanics' 5th Symposium on Footwear Biomechanics, 2001, and is reproduced here for your convenience. You may wish to download this paper as a .pdf file, or print a copy of this page.

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Proc. of the 5 th Symp. on Footwear Biomechanics, 2001,
Zuerich / Switzerland, (Eds. E. Hennig, A. Stacoff)  p.72-73

Plantar Center of Pressure and its Effect on
Golf Swing Distance and Accuracy

Kerry K. Rambarran, and Marshall Kendall
School of Human Kinetics University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Previous golf research have focused on both equipment and human factors. While these are two separate areas of focus, the goal remains the same - skill improvement of the participants, thereby increasing their enjoyment. Human factor studies have investigated both kinematic and kinetic factors of human performance while executing golf skills. Prior studies have investigated the differences in kinetic and kinematic differences between novice amateur, elite amateur and professional golfers. The purpose of this study was to facilitate a golf shot of greater accuracy and distance by passively displacing an amateur’s plantar Center of Pressure (CoP) anteriorly. To passively displace a subject’s plantar CoP heel lifts were placed under the original insole of golf shoes. Subjects executed golf swings with a 5 iron and a driver (1 wood). Subjects achieved greater distances and accuracy with the use of heel lifts.


Gastwirth et al. (1991), and Ebbeling et al. (1994) have shown a relationship between heel height and plantar CoP. Anteriorly displaced plantar CoP is directly proportionate to increased heel height (Gastwirth et al. , 1996; and Ebbeling et al., 1994).
Professional golf instructors advise learners to "shift their weight" towards the front of the foot while swinging a golf club. Instructors claim that this improves both distance and accuracy of the golf swing. It begs the question - if a novice amateur’s plantar CoP was passively displaced anteriorly, would there be an increase in accuracy and distance? The investigators found it necessary to investigate this possibility, as there have not been any previous biomechanical studies of this nature conducted.
The investigators hypothesize that increasing anterior CoP displacement will result in greater accuracy and distance achieved by novice amateur golfers.


Subjects with a handicap of 18 were asked to hit golf balls using a the Golf-o-Max golf simulator with a 5 iron and driver (1 wood). Subjects were chosen based in similar distances achieved with both clubs. Subjects were asked to perform multiple golf swing trials for the three conditions of: 1) no heel lift (5I-HL0); 2) heel lift of 6.35 mm (1/4 inch) and a 6o incline (5I-HL1); and 3) heel lift of 12.7 mm (1/2 inch) and a 10o incline (5I-HL2). Heel lifts were constructed using nicholplast foam. To displace a subject’s CoP, heel lifts were placed under the original insole of golf shoes at the base of the heel counter. Each condition was repeated using a driver (1 wood): (D-HL0), (D-HL1), (D-HL2). Total horizontal distance achieved as well as horizontal distance from the flag were recorded and averaged.


The results presented are averages of the trials performed by the subjects. The average distances achieved using the 5 iron for the conditions of 5I-HL0, 5I-HL1, 5I-HL2 were: 195.1 m, 197.7 m, and 198.9 m respectively. The average distances from the flag were: 7.67 m, 6.13 m, and 6.57 m respectively. The average distances achieved using the driver for the conditions of D-HL0, D-HL1, D-HL2 were: 206 m, 232 m, and 246 m respectively. The average distances from the flag were: 18.85 m, 11.74 m, and 12.75 m respectively.

Average Shot Accuracy
Figure 1. Accuracy average achieved by subjects using 5-iron and driver for each heel lift condition

Average Driving Distance
Figure 2. Average distances achieved by subjects using 5-
iron and driver for each heel lift condition

It has been shown that a passively displaced plantar CoP with the use of heel lifts resulted in greater distances and accuracy achieved by novice amateur golfers. In order to reduce the likelihood of heel slippage, the investigators recommend that additional heel lift be added at the heel of the mid-sole of golf shoes.


1-Ebbeling, C.J., Hamill, J, Crussermeyer, J. (1994). Lower Extremity Mechanics and Energy Cost of Walking in High-Heeled Shoes. JOSPT. 19 (4): 190 - 196.
2-Gastwirth, B.W., O’Brien, T.D., Nelson, R.M., Manager, D.C., & Kindig, S.A. (1991). An electrodynographic study of foot function in shoes on varying heel heights. J Am Podiatr Assoc. 81: 463 - 472.


The investigators would like to acknowledge the efforts of:
The Ottawa Orthotic Lab for providing heel lifts
2481 Kaladar Avenue, Suite 201, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1V 8B9
Golf-O-Max for providing facilities for data collection
1460 Merivale Rd. Nepean, Ontario, Canada, K2E 5P2

This information is a report of research sponsored by the International Society of Biomechanics and the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa, Canada.