Chip Shots: Getting on Track
Modern technology has impacted golf in many ways: new materials, equipment modifications, golf GPS and scorecard apps on our smart phones, laser range finders, indoor golf simulators, and a variety of tools to provide instant feedback.
I’ve had the good fortune to experience one such tool personally – it’s called TrackMan. For the past few weeks I’ve been meaning to write about my recent experience going through the TrackMan Combine at Hidden Meadows, under the watchful eye of Head Pro Brad Wilkins (seen on this YouTube video demonstrating TrackMan).
What is TrackMan? It is a piece of sophisticated equipment that connects to a laptop and uses Doppler radar to provide precision swing and ball flight analysis at an incredible level of detail. Many of the world’s top professional golfers use TrackMan as part of their practice routines – how does this list suit you? Rory McIlroy (world #1), Adam Scott (world #2), Sergio Garcia (best player to have not won a major), Jason Dufner (most laid-back player who HAS won a major), and a few other names you might recognize: Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.
Of course, they can all afford to own their own TrackMan (cost? A cool $20-25,000), but for the rest of us poor schmoes, there’s hope. There are local clubs and teaching pros in the area that have and offer TrackMan as a learning tool, and for a fairly reasonable fee. TrackMan is also very beneficial when getting fit for new clubs. It makes it very easy to get into the correct equipment that will optimize your ball flight.
Over the past two years I have been fortunate to win a free TrackMan session, one at a tournament and another in a promotional drawing. The TrackMan combine I mentioned previously involves you hitting shots on the range at targets/zones of 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140 160, and 180 yards plus driver. Upon completion of the test, you get the following feedback:
- Average Distance from the Pin at each target
- Average Drive Distance
- Average Offline for Drivers
- Score (0-100) for each shot category
- Percentile Ranking for every shot category
- Aggregate TrackMan Combine Score
- Incredible amount of information on club head speed, smash factor, launch angle, angle of attack, etc., etc.
When I was done the combine, Brad was able to email a PDF file to me that gave me a comprehensive report of my performance, along with a total score. Additionally, my information exists at Mytrackman.com and I can go online to view my report and compare myself to others anytime I want (Alan’s TrackMan report).
For me, I saw improvement of my total score from 40 the first year to 43 this year. My total score is on the low end of the range for a bogey golfer, which I am for the most part. For me, the biggest thing that has detracted from my scores being better was distance control and also dispersion from the center line.
In the end, the TrackMan Combine provides you with enhanced feedback on your golf swing and performance; which for the data geek is a lot of fun to go through and analyze. More importantly, perhaps, it provides the golf teaching pro with valuable information that helps him/her know what the areas for improvement are for their pupil.
If you are looking for a fun and informative way to improve your game, this should be on your To Do list. Or, if you are considering the purchase of new irons and/or woods, look for a Pro Shop that uses tools like TrackMan in order to get the right clubs for your swing. Get in touch with your favorite club’s golf pro and find out if TrackMan is something that he/she offers; you won’t regret it!