Can Video Games Help Your Golf Game?

Hoping to play better golf but don’t want to bang balls on the range? Stuck indoors on a rainy day? A recent study suggests that a little time with a video game could translate into better scores in your next “real” round.

As reported in the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, the study divided 161 participants into three groups: some used a kinesthetic motion sensor to putt in the “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” video game on a Nintendo Wii game system; others putted using a push-button control pad; and the third group didn’t putt at all.

After a few minutes of playing (or not), all the participants rolled a series of putts on a small practice green. Those who’d played with the motion-sensor control had the best results, significantly higher than the other two groups.

Said Edward Downs, an associate professor of communications at the University of Minnesota-Duluth who helped conduct the study, “What we can infer from this is that the putting motion in the game maps onto a real putting behavior closely enough that people who had 18 holes of practice putting with the motion controllers actually putt better than the group that spent 45 minutes or so using the push-button controller to make putts.” Downs said that future research is needed to see if the same results occur with other golf skills, like full swings, which require different, and bigger, muscles.

We’ll wait and see, but in the meantime, you might want to get your kids to show you just how those video-game consoles work.

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