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Golfer utilizes strength testing equipment.

Driving Elite Performance: New partnership taking OSU golf to the next level

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Media Contact: Kirsi McDowell | Senior Communications Specialist | 405-744-9347 |

Oklahoma State University is known for having one of the premier golf programs in the country.  

The historically successful OSU golf program has won 11 national titles, many conference championships and sent numerous players to the professional level.

A new research partnership with the School of Kinesiology, Applied Health and Recreation is poised to help push the Cowboy and Cowgirl teams to the next level. The newly established OSU Golf Research, Innovation and Performance Center (OSU GRIP) will conduct cutting-edge research working with elite golfers in Stillwater.

“There is nothing else like this in the country,” said Dr. Doug Smith, OSU GRIP Center director. “OSU is going to have the first golf-specific institute doing research to ensure the players at OSU are ready and confident when they go onto the course.”

Golfer evaluates swing strengthThe academic-athletic partnership will allow educators like Smith to collect data, analyze it and present it in a learnable way. 

“Oklahoma State golf has a long history of commitment to the program going back to our coaches and generous donors. When you look around at the unmatched facilities and resources our golf program has, it is evident we care more about the success of our program than any other in the country,” said Jonathan Moore, OSU golf strength and conditioning coach. “Being the first college golf center in the country speaks to how much we care about being the best.”

Smith is working with Moore to collect and analyze data to help create custom programs for the individual golf player. Players go through 15 or more tests, everything from generic height, weight and mobility to more specific grip strength plus horizontal and vertical power. The pair specifically looked at the science behind improving club head speed to start.

Based on the data, Smith and Moore designed specific strength and conditioning programs for each player. Moore noted each player was able to increase their club head speed by 2 to 5 mph.

“A golfer plays year-round for the most part, but we wanted to look into what they should be doing while in and out of season and even in between competitions,” Smith said. “While we look at the data around swinging a club, we focus on everything from metabolic cost to hydration and sleep.”

Smith added that college golfers need to consider load carriage from their bags as they have to carry their own equipment around the course, something often not considered in the professional game. 

“As a former player who cares, it is really important that we have evidence-based and data-driven programs that are allowing these players to understand their game,” Moore said.

Moore said the partnership with Smith and his team in the Human Performance Lab has been great to work with. They have taken more of a long-game approach with this partnership, which has allowed it to turn into something more long-term. It is a unique collaboration allowing OSU to be at the forefront of data-based research in golf.

“Everything we’re doing for golf performance is going to be OSU-based research and as the people in the education side start publishing articles explaining this data-based approach to the game, more people will start to notice how much we care for players,” Moore said.

Golfer evaluates strengthBoth Moore and Smith noted there is some published research surrounding men’s college programs, but there is a huge gap in research for women’s programs. 

“We have a really unique and special opportunity to have high-level golfers to learn from,” Moore said. “In sports science it can be hard to find people to collect data from and at OSU we are actually able to follow players over the course of their college career.”

The OSU GRIP Center has brought together some big names from academics, the golf world and former OSU players to sit on the advisory board, which is one of the driving forces behind the institution. Moore said the people who have stepped up to support and the overall excitement for this project has been one of the best parts of the creation of the OSU GRIP Center.

Smith said when he started to put this project together, he really wanted to dig into elite, high performance and has made sure to bring in the best people to help with this project.

“This is a collaboration unlike any other to help OSU golf teams continue to be one of the best teams in the country,” Moore said. 

OSU men’s golf coach Alan Bratton said with the advances in technology in the sport, the GRIP Center is going to elevate OSU as his players become more competitive across the board. Bratton also said he had been happy to provide the researchers with elite players because the center is truly helping them develop. 

“I am excited to see where this goes. What a proud moment for everyone at Oklahoma State,” Bratton said. 

Story By: Katie Lacey ASPIRE Magazine

Photos By: Kelly Kerr and Bruce Waterfield

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