Developing State-Based Recommendation Systems For Golf Training; Black Americans And Traumatic Head Injuries

Ziller, Jacob, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Scherer, William, EN-Eng Sys and Environment, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

As the world evolves to a more data-driven society, certain industries and topics are invoking more data analysis than others. The technical project involved creating a golf training system that recommended drills for users to do based on past golf performance. This would be the first of its kind in the golf industry, operating through the client GameForge’s website. The STS research paper looks into the differing implications of head injuries based on race in this increasingly diverse society of the world today. Even though both of these topics deal with sports, the STS topic does not deal directly with the technical topic and therefore the topics are loosely coupled. They both involve sports industries that have undergone change recently and are ripe for more research to be done: either golf training analytics or studying head injuries and their effects.
The potential for growth in this still nascent industry of golf analytics was a main rationale for this project. GameForge is on the forefront of this space, and any new ideas they can implement into their product pay dividends down the road. The capstone group used a variety of data analytics methods, such as clustering, to determine how each type of player is likely to improve most, and in turn assign certain drills to certain types of players. There are training programs in the market today, but nothing that takes previous performance data and pairs it with golf expertise quite like what the capstone group set out to do.
After analyzing the data given to them by GameForge, the capstone group was able to draw a few conclusions. There are certain statistics, such as putting and driving accuracy, that significantly improve for all golfers when they improve as a player. The capstone group found that there are various ways golfers improve, and was able to cluster a golfer into any one of four clusters using a machine learning algorithm, each group having differing traits. Once GameForge knows what cluster a golfer falls into, they can assign them specific drills, a novel idea in the golf industry. The group was able to design frameworks and methods for GameForge to use to assign players drills, but unfortunately the data itself was too sparse at the moment for anything to be implemented right now. However, there is reason to be confident about the work done, as once more rounds are entered into the system it will require no work on GameForge’s behalf to start assigning drills.
The research paper began by asking a simple question: how do concussions affect black families differently than families of other races? From anecdotal and personal experiences, the initial thesis statement was as follows: concussions affect black families more severely than other races due to a combination of economic, academic, and social factors. These factors can be anything from family income to violence in the neighborhood. To prove this thesis statement, medical journals, sociological articles, and sports pieces were consulted. Various viewpoints were analyzed and critiqued to create the final product of a thorough research paper.
The fact that a majority of NFL players are black, and by extension, so are a majority of CTE sufferers, creates a troubling societal issue; one which a particular racial group is more prone to a traumatic injury than other racial groups. Black participation in football is not declining as quickly as white participation in football is. This is for many reasons. One reason is that low-income families, of which are overwhelmingly minority, use sports, namely football, as an outlet to prevent their children from joining gangs while growing up. Also, many black families believe that the only way for their sons to get admitted into a college is to play a sport, and football is one of the most readily available ones. It is clear that depending on where a child grows up, susceptibility to CTE can vary dramatically based on the extenuating circumstances a child faces in his or her neighborhood, and black children have it the worst in this regard.
Both of these topics show the power that research and analysis has in today’s world. Whether it be creating a golf training system that helps the millions of golfers across the United States improve or taking a more empirical look at an issue previously only looked at through an anecdotal lens, these developments have changed research forever, and changed it for the better.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Golf, Concussions, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy , CTE, Racial, Social Construction Of Technology, SCOT

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering
Technical Advisor: William Scherer
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Alanna Flores, Orlando Jimenez, Christopher Kaylor, Kelly Rohrer

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