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The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review
  1. A D Murray1,2,
  2. L Daines3,
  3. D Archibald4,
  4. R A Hawkes5,6,
  5. C Schiphorst1,
  6. P Kelly1,
  7. L Grant3,7,
  8. N Mutrie1
  1. 1Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Sport and Exercise, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  5. 5European Tour Performance Institute, Virginia Water, UK
  6. 6Sports and Exercise Medicine, University College London, London, UK
  7. 7Global Health Academy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Murray, Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, 2.33 St Leonard's Land, Edinburgh EH8 8, UK; docandrewmurray{at}


Objective To assess the relationships between golf and health.

Design Scoping review.

Data sources Published and unpublished reports of any age or language, identified by searching electronic databases, platforms, reference lists, websites and from consulting experts.

Review methods A 3-step search strategy identified relevant published primary and secondary studies as well as grey literature. Identified studies were screened for final inclusion. Data were extracted using a standardised tool, to form (1) a descriptive analysis and (2) a thematic summary.

Results and discussion 4944 records were identified with an initial search. 301 studies met criteria for the scoping review. Golf can provide moderate intensity physical activity and is associated with physical health benefits that include improved cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic profiles, and improved wellness. There is limited evidence related to golf and mental health. The incidence of golfing injury is moderate, with back injuries the most frequent. Accidental head injuries are rare, but can have serious consequences.

Conclusions Practitioners and policymakers can be encouraged to support more people to play golf, due to associated improved physical health and mental well-being, and a potential contribution to increased life expectancy. Injuries and illnesses associated with golf have been identified, and risk reduction strategies are warranted. Further research priorities include systematic reviews to further explore the cause and effect nature of the relationships described. Research characterising golf's contribution to muscular strengthening, balance and falls prevention as well as further assessing the associations and effects between golf and mental health are also indicated.

  • Golf
  • Health
  • Exercise
  • Evidence based review
  • Sport

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  • Twitter Follow Andrew Murray at @docandrewmurray, Paul Kelly at @narrowboat_paul and Nanette Mutrie at @nanettemutrie

  • Contributors All authors have contributed to the development of the research questions and study design. AM, EG and NM identified the method, whilst AM and DA identified existing scoping review frameworks to develop this scoping protocol. AM and LD developed and conducted the search strategy and data extraction. All authors developed the first and subsequent drafts of the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC; MR/K023209/1), the Chief Scientific Office and an unrestricted grant from the World Golf Foundation.

  • Competing interests ADM and RAH received an unrestricted grant from the World Golf Foundation to fund this research. The World Golf Foundation agreed to publish findings whether positive, negative, or no associations or effects were found. RAH and ADM are remunerated for clinical work for the European Golf Tour.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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    A D Murray L Daines D Archibald R A Hawkes C Schiphorst P Kelly L Grant N Mutrie