Funded PhD Opportunity Swing biomechanics and performance due to various combinations of equipment used in driving in golf

This opportunity is now closed.

This project is funded by: R&A Rules Ltd

Subject: Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism


Biomechanics has been successfully used to analyse golf driving performance (eg., Chu et al., 2010, Kenny et al., 2008, Wallace et al., 2007) and more recently the effects of movement variability on performance (eg., Betzler et al. 2012, 2014, Jones et al., 2018). Importantly, our team has a wealth of experience in the scientific study of golf biomechanics and performance.

The purpose of this research is to determine the swing biomechanics and resultant performance of different types of equipment used by golfers to drive the ball. A wide range of methods are available at The R&A Research and Test Centre for this study including a 16-camera motion capture system and integrated force plates to track and evaluate body motion and variability. An existing bespoke motion capture system and user-written algorithms (developed under previous projects within this group – Betzler et al., 2014) could be used to track the clubhead just before and at impact, measuring clubhead speed, clubhead orientation, and impact location.

A Doppler radar device can measure golf ball speed. Measures include – in-swing body motion biomechanics, clubhead speed and efficiency (ratio of ball speed to clubhead speed) variability from shot to shot in clubhead speed, efficiency, impact location, attack angle, club path, and face angle. Non-parametric statistical tests (used in previous projects within this group – Betzler et al., 2012) may be used to analyse the data.

This PhD will provide excellent training in a wide variety of important research techniques.

In addition to the entry criteria, the successful applicant will be expected to have:

*Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) or higher Degree in Sports Science, Technology/ Engineering, Mathematics, or a related discipline from a UK institution

*Masters degree in cognate area (desirable)


Alexander, D.N. and Kern, W. (2005). Drive for Show and Putt for Dough? Journal of Sports Economics, 6 (1), 46–60.

Betzler, N.F., Monk, S.A., Wallace, E.S. and Otto, S.R. (2012) Variability in clubhead presentation characteristics and ball impact location for golfers’ drives. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30 (5), 439-448.

Betzler, N.F., Monk, S.A., Wallace, E.S. and Otto, S.R. (2014). The relationships between driver clubhead presentation characteristics, ball launch conditions and golf shot outcomes, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, 228-242

Chu, Y., Sell, T. C., & Lephart, S. M. (2010). The relationship between biomechanical variables and driving performance during the golf swing. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28 (11), 1251-1259.

Jones, K.M., Wallace, E.S. and Otto, S.R. (2018). Differences in the structure of variability in ground reaction force trajectories provide additional information about variability in the golf swing, Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology. Pps 12.

Kenny, Ian C., Wallace, Eric S. and Otto, Steve (2008) Influence of shaft length on golf driving performance. Sports Biomechanics, 7 (3), 322-332.

Wallace, E.S., Otto, S.R., Nevill. A. (2007) Ball launch conditions for skilled golfers using drivers of different lengths in an indoor testing facility. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25 (7), 731-7.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain


This project is funded by: R&A Rules Ltd


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

Watch Video

Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 18 February 2019
Interview Date
mid-March 2019


Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses

Contact Supervisor

Professor Eric Wallace

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #344658 when applying for this PhD opportunity