Upswing in Golf-Related Head Injuries to Children
April 7, 2005

Is Tiger Woods' popularity to blame for the recent increase in golf-related head injuries to children? Researchers in Augusta, Georgia, (home of the Masters Golf Tournament) think so. They were familiar with what happened after Tiger won his Masters Championship in 1997: four children suffered from golf-related head injuries within three months. No such injuries occurred in the twelve months before Woods won the championship.

Since 1997, golf has become even more popular. Dr. Scott Rahimi and his colleagues at the Medical College of Georgia (Augusta, GA) and St. Louis University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO) re-examined the issue of golf-related head injuries to children. They searched through the medical records of 2,546 children under the age of 19 years who were seen by neurosurgeons at the Medical College of Georgia between 1996 and 2002.

The researchers found that 64 of the 2,546 children had head injuries related to sports. Bicycles were involved in most of these sports-related injuries (17 cases), but injuries related to golf (15 cases) were also common. Golf clubs and golf carts each caused seven head injuries and a golf ball caused one injury. Head injuries were caused when children were hit in the head with a golf club or when they were thrown out of a moving golf cart. Golf-related injuries occurred more often at home or at a park than at a golf course.

The neurosurgeons suggest that proper training with golf equipment, adult supervision of golf clubs and carts and the requirement of a valid driver's license to operate a golf cart may reduce golf-related head injuries. It is also important to follow the first rule of etiquette mentioned by the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews:

"Prior to playing a stroke or making a practice swing, the player should ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like which may be moved by the stroke or swing." (From The Official Rules of Golf," Chicago: Triumph Books, 1993.)

Did you know?

  • The word "golf" comes from the Dutch word "kolf" or "kolve" meaning "club." (Source - USGA)
  • The term "birdie" originated in the United States in 1899. (Source)
  • There are 26.2 million golfers in the United States. (Source)
  • There are at least 16,057 golf courses in the US. (Source)
  • Tiger Woods won the Masters Golf Tournament in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005.

References and further information:

  1. Rahimi, S.Y., Harshpal, S., Yeh, D.J., Shaver, E.G., Flannery, A.M. and Lee, M.R. Golf-associated head injury in the pediatric population: a common sports injury, J. Neurosurgery (Pediatrics 2), 102:163-166, 2005.
  2. Play Safe

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