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Publication: Journal of Sport Behavior
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 11618
ISSN: 01627341
Journal code: IJSB

(ProQuest: ... denotes text missing in the original.)

Self-efficacy reflects individuals' beliefs in their capability to perform behaviors that will bring about specific outcomes (Bandura, 1995, 1997). Several variables affect self-efficacy, including one's social, environmental and temporal circumstances, perceived task difficulty, and one's experiences with a specific task or set of behaviors (Bandura, 1 977). Moreover, an individual's self-efficacy can influence many aspects of one's performance, such as persistence, motivation, and effort, and can even predict future performance (Bandura, 1 997; Vealey, 1986). In fact, very few psychological variables predict performance outcomes as well as selfefficacy, particularly in the context of sport (Bandura, 1995, 1997; Barling & Abel, 1983 Christensen, 2000; Feltz, 1988; Gayton, Matthews, & Burchstead, 1986; McAuley & Grill, 1983; Woolfolk, Murphy, Gottesfeld, & Aitken, 1985; Ryckman, Robbins, & Thorton, 1982).

Golf is one sport in which self-efficacy has been studied extensively, and has been found to be related to actual performance outcomes, such as making an attempted putt (Pickens, Rotella, & Gansneder, 1996), one's overall score (Christensen, 2000; Hassmen, Raglin & Lundqvist, 2004), and overall level of skill (e.g., professional vs. amateur; Gagnon, 2002; Koczajowski, 1997). Self-efficacy also relates to different psychological states, such as flow (Catley & Duda, 1997; Stein et al., 1995), competitive anxiety (Hassmen, Raglin & Lundqvist, 2004; Krane & Williams, 1 992), and self-handicapping (Kuczka & Treasure, 2005). In addition, golf self-efficacy can be increased through instruction (Compton, 2003 ; Edward, 1 983 ; Ferguson, Lirgg, German, & Ting, 2005) and goal setting (Kingston & Hardy, 1997), and moreover, its effects on performance may be mediated by motivationally general-mastery imagery (Beauchamp, Bray & Albinson, 2002).

Although these studies have shed light on the potential effects of self-efficacy in sport, specifically golf, the issue of how self-efficacy has been conceptualized and measured remains a problem and affects the extent to which researchers can make useful comparisons across studies and subpopulations of persons who play golf, e.g. amateurs, professionals, college athletes. For example, in some studies, self-efficacy has been represented by measures of state self-confidence (e.g., Vealey, 1986; Kimball, 2001), whereas in other work, general (non-sport specific) measures (e.g., Beauchamp et al., 2002) have been utilized. Even in those instances where researchers have established a scale's psychometric properties, instruments may be too long to be of any practical use.

Importantly, while existing work has assessed golf self-efficacy in a variety of ways, it has not done so utilizing a large and diverse sample of amateur golfers, undermining the generalizability of findings from (semi)professional players (e.g. McKay, Selig, Carlson, & Morris, 1 997) to amateurs, wherein the range of such scores might be attenuated in samples of collegiate or professional players. Indeed, such players might be expected to be more selfefficacious to begin with. Such findings may not as well generalize to older golfers, who are rapidly increasing in numbers not only among amateurs, but also among more skilled players (see e.g., Chmiel & Morris, 2001), reflecting the increase in the proportion of older persons relative to the general population (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). For older players, golf self efficacy is likely to play a key role in allowing for the maintenance of their skills over time, as well as serving as a buffer against age-related declines in golf skills (Baltes & Baltes, 1990). Indeed, one could argue that a positive attitude toward the game, reflecting self-efficacious beliefs regarding one's skills, is an equally important determinant of successful golf performance among older persons, relative to the extent of their golf skills per se (Chmiel & Morris, 2001; Rotella& Oillen, 1995).

Rationale for and Purpose of the Present Study

In this context, what appears to be missing and would be useful for both researchers and practitioners is a short, reliable, and valid measure of golf self-efficacy. Developing a measure of golf self-efficacy (the Golf Self Efficacy Scale, GSES) and establishing its psychometric properties, based upon data gathered from a large and diverse sample of amateur players, were the purposes of this study.

In this respect, construct validity reflects the extent to which a given measure correlates with other similar measures assessing a given general construct, wherein we might expect such relationships to be moderately high, but not so high as to suggest that the measure is redundant (Anastasi & Urbina, 1997; Thoradike & Thorndike, 2009). To the extent that a measure adequately differentiates persons utilizing an already available criterion, it possesses criterion-related concurrent validity; if a measure predicts a criterion that is temporally distinct (reflecting a criterion measure that has yet to be collected), it possesses predictive criterionrelated validity (Anastasi & Urbina, 1997; Thorndike & Thorndike, 2009).

In particular, this present study sought to establish the reliability and factorial composition of the GSES, as well as 1) the criterion-related predictive validity of the GSES (regarding the extent to which GSES scores predicted pre-round tension on the day of the tournament as well as actual tournament performance), 2) the concurrent criterion-related validity of the OSES (does the scale differentiate persons based upon for example, age or skill level?), and 3) the construct validity of the GSES (does the scale correlate with other measures of for example, self confidence, anxiety, or perceptions of one's golf skills?) (see Anastasi & Urbina, 1 997; Thorndike & Thorndike, 2009).

Given the above literature and definitions of concurrent, construct, and predictive validity, we might expect that the GSES would not only be reliable, but if the GSES possessed construct validity, it would correlate with not only measures of generalized self efficacy but also relate to measures of sport performance anxiety and multiple indices of players' perceptions of their golf skills. Regarding concurrent validity, we would expect that the OSES would differentiate persons on the bases of age (important given the growing number of older players) and golf skill (see e.g., Hassmen, Raglin, & Lundqvist, 2004). The GSES's predictive validity would be evidenced via the scale's ability to predict not only tournament performance, but also players' predicted first round scores and pre-round tension/anxiety (see below).



Two hundred and twenty male golfers from the Dupont World Amateur Tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina participated. On average, participating golfers were 44.46 years old (SD = 8.47, Range = 23-64), and were primarily Caucasian (n = 203). Mean years of education was 14.76 (SD = 2.48) for the present sample. Participants had been playing golf from 2 to 50 years (M- 1 8.44, SD = 1 0.36). Golfers also reported on their practice habits, wherein persons reported practicing once (3 1 %) or twice (27%) a week, though some (4.5%) reported practicing every day; 39% reported that when they did practice, it was for less than one hour. Just over 73% were members of private golf clubs and 23 .7% reported having taken a golf lesson from a teaching professional in the last six months.


Golf Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES). To assess golf self-efficacy, a 12-item measure, the Golf Self Efficacy Scale (OSES), was developed that targeted key skills/behaviors associated with being a successful golfer. Using an 1 1 -point Likert Scale, ranging from O, Not at all confident, to 50, Moderately confident, to 100, Completely confident, golfers indicated their confidence in: consistency in 1 ) driving from the tee, 2) putting, 3) short irons, 4) long irons, and 5) fairway woods, as well as 6) having good alignment or posture, 7) selecting the correct club for a shot, 8) making necessary adjustments to one's grip or swing, 9) having good course management skills, 10) hitting trouble shots, 11) playing out of the sand and 12) staying focused while playing. Each of these skills is key to consistently good performance in golf (see Chmiel & Morris, 2001; Nicklaus, Bowden, & McQueen, 2005; Palmer, 1983; Rotella & Cullen, 1995; Watson, 1983).

Self-Efficacy Scale (SES). The 23-item Self-Efficacy Scale (SES; Sherer & Adams, 1983; Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-Dunn, Jacobs, & Rogers, 1 982) measures both general (initiation/persistence in the face of adversity) and social (social confidence) self-efficacy expectations. Each item is presented in a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree). Total scores are each subscale's average and higher scores indicate greater levels of self-efficacy. Cronbach alphas for the SES in the current sample were .85 (General) and .65 (Social). Sherer et al. and Sherer and Adams have each provided extensive information on the scale's validity.

GolfPerformance Survey (GPS). The Golf Performance Survey (GPS; Thomas & Over, 1994) assesses the psychological and psychomotor skills associated with golf performance and level of involvement in golf. Each item is presented in a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Total scores on each subscale are obtained by averaging the respective items; higher scores indicate greater confidence in each area. Thomas and Over found a stable 3 factor structure (Psychological Skills: Negative Emotions and Cognitions, Mental Preparation, Conservative Approach, Concentration, Striving for Maximum Distance; Golf Involvement: Commitment; Psychomotor Performance: Automaticity, Putting Skill, Seeking Improvement) for the GPS, and as well as finding GPS subscale scores to predict shot-making skills, based upon data gathered from professional golfers in an Australian tournament. Thomas and Over also found among amateurs GPS subscale scores to be higher among more skilled players. Thomas and Fogarty ( 1 997) found GPS scores to be sensitive to the effects of a two-month imagery/self taught training program among amateur golfers.

Because of the unique nature of the Commitment scale (see Thomas & Over, 1994; Thomas & Fogarty, 1 997) and to avoid unnecessary overlap with other measures utilized here [Sport Anxiety Scale, measures of physical and mental preparation, self efficacy, and areas of needed improvement (see below)], only the GPS Automaticity, Putting Skill, Seeking Improvement (all indexing Psychomotor Skills), and Commitment subscales were used here (37 of 68 items in the GPS). While subsequent analysis of these subscales necessitated the deletion of the Seeking Improvement subscale due to its lower reliability (alpha = .56), Cronbach alphas for the remaining GPS subscales in current sample were .69 (Automaticity), .72 (Putting), and .79 (Commitment). A modified GPS total score was created for purposes of the present study, reflecting the sum of the Commitment, Putting, and Automaticity subscales.

Sport Anxiety Scale (SAS). The 18-item Sport Anxiety Scale (SAS; Smith, Smoll, & Schulte, 1990) measures three types of sport-specific trait anxiety: somatic (8 items), worry (7 items), and concentration disruption (3 items). Participants rated each item on a 4-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (not at all how 1 typically feel before or during a competition) to 4 (very much how I feel prior to or during competition). Total scores for each factor are obtained by averaging that scale's items; higher scores indicate more anxiety. Cronbach alphas for the SAS in the current sample were .90 (Somatic), .87 (Worry), and .68 (Concentration Disruption). Smith et al. have provided extensive information about the scale's factor structure through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, as well as providing information regarding the construct validity of the SAS.

Golf-Specific Problem Areas. Participants indicated whether they had experienced problems in the following areas of their play: driving the ball straight (42%), short game (25.6%), concentration (25 .6%), putting (24.2%), driving the ball long(18.3%), sand play (17.8%), short iron play ( 1 5, 1 %), feeling relaxed and ready to play ( 1 3 . 7%), long iron play ( 1 1 . 9%) and trouble shots (6.8%). Cronbach's alpha for the overall problem score, representing the extent to which golfers endorsed the above areas as problematic for them personally, was .77 in the present sample.

Physical and Mental Preparation. Golfers also rated the extent (not at all to extremely) to which they prepared themselves physically (2 items) and mentally (3 items) prior to practice, play, or competition, based upon 5 such items (e.g., stretching, relaxing, thinking positively, using mental imagery). Cronbach's alpha for this measure of pre-round preparation was .86 hi the present sample.

Factors Influencing Efforts at Improvement. Considering a list of 24 factors (e.g., relying upon new, game improvement equipment, taking private lessons, playing with friends, practicing, controlling one's emotions, playing with the best equipment, remaining fît, playing easy or difficult courses), participants also rated the importance (noi at all important to extremely important) of each factor in helping them to either maintain and/or improve their golf games. For the measure of factors that helped to maintain/improve one's golf performance, Cronbach's alpha in the present sample was. 81.

Pre-Round Performance Anxiety. Immediately prior to teeing off, golfers indicated along a 5-point scale how physically and psychologically anxious/tense they were at present, responding to 6 questions targeting such feelings (e.g., feeling nervous, tight, being concerned about performing well, being a disappointment to others). Cronbach's alpha for this measure of pre-round anxiety/tension was .83.

Procedure and Analyses

Golfers who were scheduled to play at one of four courses were identified by the tournament director as potential participants in the study. Participation per se was not random; those who participated were self-selected. However, as golfers were randomly assigned to courses, this sample of male golfers represented both a random and a representative sample of tournament participants; indeed, the vast majority (over 80%) of tournament participants were males. At registration, golfers were approached, the purpose of the study explained (to survey their attitudes about their golf games) and their participation solicited. Over 90% who were approached volunteered to participate in the present study. Then, in small groups, they provided written consent, and subsequently completed the above described questionnaires.

Measures of pre-round anxiety/tension and predicted Round 1 scores were taken the morning after the above discussed measures (GSES, GPS, SES, SAS, preparation, problem areas, efforts at improvement) were completed. Players' questionnaire packets were coded by number so their scores during the four rounds of the tournament could be matched to their responses. Following the tournament, the tournament director provided the golfers' gross scores (i.e., uncorrected for handicap) as well as their tournament verified handicaps.

Exploratory factor analysis (see below) was used to examine the factor structure of the Golf Self-Efficacy Scale (OSES); once this factor structure was determined, factor scores were calculated in addition to internal consistency reliability. Pearson product-moment correlations with the other measures were used to evaluate the scale's construct, concurrent, and predictive validity. An ANOVA examined the GSES 's discriminant validity regarding the impact of level of golf skill on GSES scores.


Factor Structure and Reliability of the GSES

Principle axis factor analysis with squared multiple correlations as communality estimates was used to explore the GSES 's underlying factor structure. A single factor explained 62.33% of the common variance among items (Eigenvalue = 5.08); Cronbach's alpha for this single factor score was .87. These findings suggest that the GSES is a unidimensional and reliable measure of golfers' perceived efficacy.

Concurrent Validity

Correlational findings (see Table 1) speaking to the concurrent validity of the GSES suggested that while golf self-efficacy was unrelated to the number of years golfers had played and how often persons practiced, GSES scores related to how much time they spent practicing when they did practice. Importantly, golf self-efficacy was negatively related to golfers' verified tournament handicaps (where higher handicaps indexed less skill, see Table 1).

Construct Validity

As expected, and consistent with evidence supporting the scale's construct validity, GSES scores were moderately and positively associated with both general and social selfefficacy (see Table 1). In addition, higher golf self-efficacy was related to lower scores from each subscale of the Sport Anxiety Scale: somatic, worry, concentration disruption, as well as to SAS total scores (see Table 1).

For golf specific skills, as expected, higher golf self-efficacy was related to greater GPS automaticity, more skill in putting, and greater commitment to the game of golf, as well as to higher GPS modified total scores. In addition, those golfers whose GSES scores were higher indicated that they had fewer problem areas in their games, were more likely to prepare themselves prior to practicing and competing, and endorsed to a greater extent a variety of factors that they thought had helped them to improve their games (see Table 1).

Discriminant Validity

An ANOVA of GSES scores broken down by 3 levels of skill, given the distribution of verified handicaps in the sample, where cell sizes were at least 39 (handicaps < 9.2; > 13.2 < 15.5; > 18.0), suggested that level of skill reliably impacted GSES scores, F2109= 14.26,/? < .01 (Ms = 70.04, 62.97, 62.06, respectively). Post hoc Scheffe tests indicated that those who were the most skilled had higher (p < .01) GSES scores than those whose skill levels were lower; persons who handicaps placed them in the moderate and least skilled levels of golf proficiency had similar GSES scores. GSES scores were negatively, but nevertheless at best only moderately related to players' ages.

Predictive Validity

Correlational findings indicated that GSES scores predicted players' unadjusted tournament scores (where lower scores index better performance, independent of handicap) in rounds 1, 3, and 4. Golf self-efficacy was however, unrelated to round 2 scores. Higher GSES scores were also related to better predicted first round scores (see Table 1), wherein such predicted scores were also strongly related to Round 1 scores (r = .64, p < .01). Controlling for GSES scores attenuated this relationship to an extent (partial r = .60). GSES scores also predicted pre-round anxiety/tension scores (see Table 1), and the latter were also related to predicted Round 1 scores (r = . 1 9, p < .02), but not to Round 1 scores per se. Controlling for GSES scores attenuated the pre-round anxiety/tension - predicted score relationship (partial r - . 10, ns).


Reliability, Factor Structure, Concurrent, and Construct Validity of the GSES

In view of the GSES 's high internal consistency reliability and unidimensionality, and in light of its brevity, it has promise for use in both research-related and teaching-related contexts. The findings presented here speak to the concurrent validity of the GSES, wherein it was principally related to players' handicaps, and importantly, to the construct validity of the GSES, wherein golf self-efficacy was related to, but nevertheless separate from generalized self-efficacy. The partial but non-overlapping relationship between generalized and golf-specific self efficacy found here is parallel to work exploring relationships between generalized and domain-specific locus of control (see Lachman, 1986; Wallston, Wallston, & DeVellis, 1978) as well as to that examining relationships between generalized and domain-specific hardiness (see Nowack, 1989, 1990). The GSES's relationship to SAS and GPS scores also supports its construct validity.

Discriminant and Predictive Validity

The findings here also speak to the GSES's discriminant validity (in differentiating persons by skill level), consistent with previous research exploring other aspects of golfers' perceptions of their skills (e.g., Thomas & Over, 1994). GSES scores were also moderately related to age, reflecting the tendency for older players to have less confidence in their skills (see Chmiel & Morris, 1997). This might suggest that older players would especially benefit from efforts to change their self efficacy beliefs, setting the stage for improved performance among such persons. Regarding predictive criterion-related validity, consistent with the above research on self-efficacy and sport performance, these findings suggest that greater golf selfefficacy predicts better performance during tournament play (re: OSES scores predicted performance in 3 of 4 tournament rounds). They also suggest that golfers with higher GSES scores were more optimistic about their first round performance and were less anxious prior to teeing off at the tournament's outset.

Implications for Research and Teaching

Viewed from a research perspective, the GSES findings here underscore its utility in the efficient assessment of players' beliefs about their golf skills. In this respect, OSES scores were related to not only players' perceptions of the difficulties they were having with their golf games, but also to the degree to which they prepared mentally and physically prior to playing, to efforts they had made to improve their golf performance, and to both predicted and actual Round 1 performance. While it is entirely possible that greater golf self efficacy makes it more likely that golfers will engage in more preparatory or performance improvement-related behavior, greater confidence in one's golf skills could also be an outcome of such behavior. As these data are correlational, they cannot speak to issues of causality, wherein cross lagged longitudinal analyses would be necessary to answer such questions.

Significantly however in this respect, persons whose predicted Round 1 scores were lower indeed played better on the first day of the tournament, and each of these scores was related to golf self efficacy, though controlling for GSES did not attenuate the predicted scoreactual performance relationship a great deal. However, the relationship between pre-round anxiety and Round 1 performance was more strongly attenuated when controlling for GSES scores. Generally speaking, this suggests golf self efficacy to in part mediate the relationship between both pre-round expectations/one's physical/mental state prior to playing and actual tournament performance. Given the importance such persons attach to doing well in a national tournament (for which they may have spend a great deal of money and invested a great deal of preparation time), attaining insight about the nature of their thoughts regarding their game and the influence of such thoughts on one's golf score is important in maximizing both tournament performance and the enjoyment of the experience of competition.

These data also underscore the importance of golf self efficacy in contributing positively to multiple aspects of the management of one's game, such as being more involved in the sport (re: GPS commitment scores), viewing one's putting as more adequate, engaging in more physical and mental preparatory activities prior to play, exhibiting more improvement-related behaviors, and thinking in a more automatized fashion while playing. Such behavior is likely to ultimately lead to better tournament performance.

Pedagogically, these findings highlight the importance of making students aware of the fact that their beliefs about their skills can indeed alternatively detract from or enhance their tournament performance, apart from their play per se during the tournament itself. From this perspective then, the GSES might be used to identify persons who self efficacy beliefs and expectations about their ability to improve might be counterproductive. As noted above, older players may especially benefit from efforts to change their self efficacy beliefs. For players whose GSES scores are lower, dysfunctional beliefs can be isolated, targeted, and challenged, helping players to not only understand that negative perceptions of their skills at present can easily undermine their performance and detract from their enjoyment of the game, but also learn to think in a more self efficacious manner as it applies to their golf games.

Via the accurate assessment of their golf-self efficacy beliefs as it pertains to specific areas of strength and weakness, such persons, through instruction and self-assessment, could enhance their mental approach to the game, enabling them to realistically match their skills with their expectations (see Rotella & Cullen, 1 995), yet allowing them to remain optimistic about their ability to improve. For golfers whose GSES scores are higher, who are more motivated to prepare mentally and physically before playing, and who are more attuned to areas in their games requiring improvement, teaching might focus on the improvement of golf skills per se.

While the above data is relevant to only male golfers (see Bond, Biddle, & Ntoumanis, 200 1 ; Johnson, 1 994), and in some cases, the reported correlations only reflect a small proportion of variance, these findings are nevertheless based upon a large and heterogeneous sample of amateur players, to include older (50+) persons. The findings presented here do suggest that the attitudes toward one's golf skills can be reliably and accurately measured in an efficient manner, wherein such beliefs contribute to better golf performance, leading to more enjoyment of the game, permitting continued and active participation well into one's adult years.


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Author affiliation:

Bert Hayslip Jr., Carlin M. Raab, Philip C. Baczewski, and Trent A. Petrie

University of North Texas

Author affiliation:

Address Correspondence to: Bert Hayslip Jr., Department of Psychology, 1 155 Union Circle #3 1 1280, University of North Texas, Dentón, TX 76203-5017.

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