Dr. Scott Lynn leads golf biomechanics research

Queen's grad finds funding in Los Angeles

Dr. Scott Lynn (left) has become a leader in golf biomechanics research since he moved to California in 2008.
Dr. Scott Lynn (left) has become a leader in golf biomechanics research since he moved to California in 2008.
Credit: 
Supplied by Dr. Scott Lynn

Those who have golfed with a random partner before may know that often conversations on the course are there just to fill the awkward silence. But every now and then you come across someone worth listening to.

During his PhD in biomechanics at Queen’s — with a specific focus on knee arthritis — and as a member of the Queen’s golf team, Scott Lynn spent his summer weekends driving from Kingston to Toronto to play at his local course. 

Arriving in the mid-afternoon, Lynn was often paired with the same insurance salesman. By the end of the summer, the two had developed a friendly golfing relationship.

One conversation between the two still sticks out in Lynn’s mind.

“At one point during that summer he stopped and said, ‘you know I made a ton of money in insurance, but I hated every second of it. If I could go back and do something else — even if I make less money [I would]. You have to find something that makes work less like work’.”

In 2008, Lynn took the advice to heart, and decided that instead of looking for funding for research in knee arthritis, he would combine his passion for golf with his academic background and apply for research funding in golf biomechanics.

Unfortunately, he was rejected from every Canadian school he applied to. For Canadian schools, a sport that can’t be played year round doesn’t translate into profitable research. Instead of giving up, Lynn decided to look south of the border for funding.

After countless applications, the Toronto native is now an associate professor and researcher of golf biomechanics at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF).

With his research, Lynn hopes to achieve two things; to make the game safer and prevent injuries.

At CSUF, Lynn has been able to work in the school’s biomechanics lab. With both motion capturing cameras and force monitoring plates in the ground, Lynn can analyze 3D images and study people’s movements during their swing. Instead of overhauling someone’s swing, Lynn makes minor changes to avoid harmful body motions.

While it was once believed that every golfer could be taught the same swing, Lynn has deduced that since every body is different, every new client needs a fresh approach.

“If we try to teach everyone the same thing we will probably fuck up 90 percent of the people we are trying to help,” Lynn said. “Every single person is a new puzzle to solve.” 

Since moving out to Southern California, Lynn has become a leading researcher in the world of golf biomechanics, working with both Sean Foley and Chris Como — the former and current swing coaches of Tiger Woods.

While some would rather work directly with professional golfers, Lynn prefers to work with their coaches.

“If I talk biomechanics to some golfers, it will paralyze them,” Lynn said. “If you are thinking about how the ground reaction forces are causing your pelvis to spin at a current rate, you might not be able to pick up the club anymore, there is too much going on in your brain.”

“I can get all technical with the coaches without worrying that I will screw up the golfer, and let them figure out how to translate into a way for the golfer to understand.”

Lynn’s work goes beyond golf. From 2012-14, he helped the Los Angeles King’s training staff to create individual workout plans for the players. Currently, he is doing the same thing with the Anaheim Ducks.

While he does enjoy his time working with some of the world’s best athletes and coaches, Lynn wants to make the game easier on the casual golfer. His most important client is the man who introduced him to the game — his father.

“My dad is 75 years old … he walks the course and carries his clubs five days a week in the summer,” Lynn said. If we can get more people [like that], look at the potential healthcare benefits.”

At the end of the day, Lynn hopes to make athletics easier for everyone.

“A study that came out said that walking a golf course is 10,000 steps on average, and most people say the average physical daily activity is 10,000 steps. To me, you have to disguise the exercise, make it not a chore.”

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