The degree of field-independence of golfers with varying ability was measured with Oltman's portable rod-and-frame apparatus using standard preset and procedure. Three subject groups were utilized consisting of PGA Tour players, amateurs, and senior amateurs. Both amateur groups were divided further by skill level. The golfer's ability to shift from a field-independent to a field-dependent mode was also measured. Unlike standard protocol which required alignment of the rod with tme gravitational vertical, an altered instruction set asked the subject to align the rod with the surrounding frame. It was hypothesized that highly skilled golfers would be more field-independent than their less skilled counterparts and more readily able to switch to a field-dependent mode when directed to do so. This perceptual phenomenon has been called "ego autonomy" and suggests an ability to direct attention to any aspect of the visual field and determine if it is to be figure or ground. A two-way ANOVA revealed significant age and skill factors (p < 0.05) affecting rod-and-frame performance within the amateur ranks. The PGA Tour players were surprisingly less field-independent than an age-matched group of highly skilled amateurs (p < 0.05). The golfer's ability to shift to a field-dependent mode was most accurately performed by the PGA group as compared to the same age matched amateur group (p < 0.05). Theories as to the perceptual demands of golf and usefulness of the rod-and-frame device as an evaluation tool are discussed. Further understanding of individual differences in perception and how they relate to the visual demands faced on the golf course have application in teaching programs dealing with alignment technique and general visual performance.
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