Relishing the Round: Exploring Enjoyment in Elite Amateur Golfers

Scott Barnicle, SAIC, USA

Theme: Anxiety, stress, and emotions

Poster Number: 81

Program ID: POS-2

Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


The field of sport psychology has grown due to an increase in acceptance and use of applied mental skills training by both athletes and coaches in numerous athletic settings, yet sport enjoyment has often been overlooked as a significant predictor of and contributor to performance. Enjoyment in sport plays a pivotal role in many aspects of an athlete’s sport experience, such as performance expectations (Barnicle, Pollock, Burton, & Lee, 2012; Scanlan & Lewthwaite, 1985), social development (Wankel, 1993), attrition (Gould, Horn, & Weiss, 1984), and participation performance (Scanlan, Stein, & Ravizza, 1989) among others. Sport enjoyment is often neglected by parents and coaches as a significant predictor or facilitator of performance, compared to other mental training tools and skills (Burton & Raedeke, 2008). A better understanding of sport enjoyment’s effect on performance is needed in the world of sport psychology, in order to better examine its performance enhancement power and how it compares to traditional mental training. Continuing a stream of prior golf enjoyment research (Barnicle et al., 2012) through extensive individual interviews (n=18), this study aimed to identify specific factors of enjoyment, comparing elite (0-6 GHIN Index) and recreational amateur golfers (7-24 GHIN Index). Significant differences were present in how the populations perceive a round of golf, the importance of etiquette, and the importance of recreational golf. A well-rounded understanding of how golfers think and act during a round can be applied to many settings, such as beginner and advanced golf training programs, psycho-educational professionals and instructors, improving business professionals’ understandings of and appreciation for business golf, and the greater golf world on a whole.

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