Is there a secret factor that helps 'tee off' well on a golf course? Researchers have found that the reason why Tiger Woods contiuously wins golfing tournaments can be inexplicably linked to the grey matter in his brain!
University of Zurich researchers have found that expert golfers have a higher volume of the grey-coloured, closely packed neuron cell bodies that are known to be involved with muscle control.
The finding attains significance as it suggests that golfers who start young, and commit to years of practice, can also grow their brains while their handicaps shrink.
Coordinating all of the moving body parts with the right timing is key to executing a good golf swing consistently, and this co-ordination requires a brain that has learnt from many trial and error repetitions.
During the study, a research team led by neuropsychologist Lutz Jancke compared the brain images of 40 men divided into four groups based on their experience as golfers.
The researchers recruited 10 professional golfers (with handicaps of 0), 10 advanced golfers (handicaps between 1 and 14), 10 average golfers (handicaps between 15 and 36), and 10 volunteers who had never played golf.
They said that brain scans of the subjects showed that there existed significant differences in total volume of grey matter between the pros and the non-players.
However, there was little difference between the pro and the advanced groups or between the average and non-players groups.
The researchers combined the pros and the advanced golfers into one group and called them experts. On the other hand, the average and non-players were grouped together and called novices.
The research team said that the further grouping led to the emergence of a clear dividing line, showing that practice produces a noticeable step up in the brain's grey matter.
According to them, this jump comes somewhere between 800-3,000 practice hours.
The results of the study have been published in the online journal PLoS ONE.