When to Shut it Down?

When to shut it down

The medical and coaching personnel working with professional golfers are often called upon to make judgments with respect to a player being fit to play or to continue to play in a specific event.  For the handicap golfer the decision is usually straightforward; millions of dollars are not involved and the decision should always be safety first. With a tour pro on the verge of a career day the answer may be more complex.

Let’s look at a tour pro that develops back pain within a round. It is very difficult to discern the difference between a simple muscle strain and a more severe structural injury in the heat of battle. Many significant injuries take hours and even days to become debilitating and it is important to be aware of the early signs of what could turn into a big problem. 

Rules of engagement

  1. For an amateur player if there is any difficulty at all in assuming the set-up position he is shut down; the reasoning being that the amount of stress in just setting up will be much less than that required in the dynamics of a full swing; remember, better to be safe and play when clear than to risk permanent injury.
  2. If the player can assume a comfortable set up position we then use the pelvic tilt test as our second level screen; failure in either direction warrants further assessment; provoking of any referred pain, into the legs for example, means automatic shut down!

Back to an injured golfer on the course; if I see a player unable to comfortably place the tee in the ground or pick up his ball from the cup, I am concerned. This could indicate a structural injury beyond a simple muscle strain. It should be noted that even the most dangerous back and neck problems often disguise as muscular pain because there is almost always a muscular component to the problem! When in doubt, be smart; rest, seek professional advice and recover to play another day!

Learn more at

Dr. Peter Mackay, Chiropractor, Downtown San Diego

Dr. Peter Mackay
As a board-certified chiropractor in the State of California, a Qualified Medical Evaluator, and founding member of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Advisory Board, Dr. Peter Mackay has an extensive career in sports injuries, industrial medicine, and physical rehabilitation.


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