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Epidemiology of musculoskeletal injury in professional and amateur golfers: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Thomas R Williamson1,
  2. Robert S Kay1,
  3. Patrick G Robinson1,2,3,
  4. Andrew D Murray2,3,4,
  5. Nicholas D Clement1
  1. 1 Edinburgh Orthopaedics, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 PGA European Tour Performance Institute, Virginia Water, UK
  3. 3 Edinburgh Sports Medicine Research Network & UK Collaborating Centre on Injury and Illness Prevention in Sport (UKCCIIS), IOC Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4 Medical and Scientific Department, The R&A, St Andrews, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas R Williamson, Edinburgh Orthopaedics, Edinburgh, UK, EH16 4SA; tom.r.williamson{at}


Objective To determine the prevalence and incidence of musculoskeletal injury in amateur and professional golfers, and to identify common injury sites and factors associated with increased injury frequency.

Design Systematic epidemiological review and meta-analysis.

Data sources PubMed (Medline), Embase, the Cochrane Library and SPORTDiscus were searched in September 2023.

Eligibility criteria Studies published in the English language reporting the incidence or prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries in golfers at all anatomical sites.

Results 20 studies (9221 golfers, 71.9% male, 28.1% female) were included, with mean age 46.8 years. Lifetime injury prevalence was significantly greater in professional golfers (73.5% (95% CI: 47.3% to 93.0%)) than amateur golfers (56.6% (95% CI: 47.4% to 65.5%); relative risk (RR)=1.50, p<0.001). Professional golfers had a significantly greater lifetime prevalence of hand and wrist (RR=3.33, p<0.001) and lower back injury (RR=3.05, p<0.001). Soft tissue injuries were most common, and diagnoses were typically non-specific. Injury frequency was not associated with age or sex. Two studies reported a greater injury risk in amateur golfers playing more than three and four rounds per week.

Conclusion Over half of golfers are at risk of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury during their lifetime. Risks and patterns of injury differ between professional and amateur golfers, with professionals significantly more likely to develop lower back, and hand and wrist injuries. A recent international consensus statement on the reporting of injury and illness in golf should aid consistency in future research assessing the epidemiology of specific diagnoses, informing golf injury prevention and management strategies.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42023408738.

  • Golf
  • Epidemiology
  • Sporting injuries
  • Athletes

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • X @TRWilliamson_, @DrPGRobinson, @docandrewmurray

  • Contributors TRW was responsible for study design, data collection, data analysis and manuscript creation, read and approved the final manuscript and acts as guarantor for the study. RSK collected data, analysed data, and read and approved the final manuscript. PGR was involved in manuscript creation, and read and approved the final manuscript. ADM was responsible for manuscript creation, and read and approved the final manuscript. NDC designed the study, created the manuscript, and read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.