Learning a motor skill may seem like child’s play, but as this course will explore, the learning and performance of motor skills is a complex human endeavor. How is it that the human nervous system with billions of neurons, a musculoskeletal system of more than 200 bones, 100 moveable joints and over a thousand muscles is able to marshal itself to swing a long stick with a very small striking surface (i.e. a golf club) to contact a small ball and send it 200 yards? Why is it that humans even attempt such a feat? After all, as Bill Cosby once said, “You had the golf ball; why did you hit it away and then go chasing it down the fairway?” Questions such as these are examples of those that are asked by kinesiologists who study motor skill learning and performance.
The course is in a lecture/discussion/lab format. In the laboratory, students will experience their own learning of a motor skill (i.e., golf). Principles and issues introduced in lecture will be explored and studied in lab. The lecture/discussion portion of the class will explore sociological, physiological, and biomechanical perspectives. Emphasis in the course is on the general principles underlying the learning and performance of all motor skills. In addition, golf as a sport in American society will be examined. At the moment, golf’s popularity is at an all time high. Why? What is the role of sport, and golf in particular, in American society?
• Students will be required to read scientific articles, participate in class discussion, write critiques of selected articles, and maintain a journal of their own experiences in learning golf. Due to the multidisciplinary content of the course, readings will come from a variety of sources. These will range from a book on the Zen of golf to a biomechanical analysis of the “perfect swing.”