Golf and physical health: a systematic review

Graeme G. Sorbie*, Alexander J. Beaumont, Ashley K. Williams, David Lavallee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Background: No previous systematic review has examined the physical health benefits of playing golf or caddying. Objective: To establish the influence of golf participation and physical health in golfers and caddies. More specifically, the review intended to explore the domains of cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal health, in addition to body composition. Design: Systematic review. Data Sources: Electronic literature searches were conducted using PubMed, SPORTDiscus and CINAHL databases in July 2021. Eligibility Criteria: Experimental (randomised controlled trials, quasi-experiment, pre-post) and non-experimental (case–control, cross-sectional, cohort) articles relating to health and golf, written in English and published in peer-reviewed journals. Results: Of the 572 articles initially identified, 109 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility with 23 meeting the inclusion criteria. Sixteen articles were rated ‘good 'and seven ‘fair’. The influence of golf on physical health was mixed, although various articles displayed improvements in balance, systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) and the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol within golfers. Caddies observed improvements in bone mineral density (BMD), stiffness index and strength. Most of the findings indicate that playing golf or caddying does not influence body mass index (BMI); however, playing golf can positively change other body composition markers such as lean and fat mass. Conclusion: This review demonstrated that golf participation may be an effective method for improving musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health, although mixed findings were observed. Moreover, limited longitudinal evidence suggests that playing golf can positively impact metabolic health and the influence on body composition may be parameter dependent. Additionally, the initial evidence suggests that caddying may improve musculoskeletal health. However, the studies included were limited by their methodological inconsistencies such as: study design, participant demographics and intervention prescription. PROSPERO Registration: CRD42021267664.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2943–2963
Number of pages21
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number12
Early online date6 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Golfers
  • Caddies
  • Cardiovascular
  • Metabolic
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Body composition


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