Golf technology will help break down your swing DNA
TrackMan provides a three-dimensional look at a golfer’s shot while measuring ball speed, face angle, carry and other data.
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Here is the ironic aspect of TrackMan, the radar technology that has helped “Moneyball” meet golf:
For all the analytics and brain-bending numbers now available to pretty much any golfer, the idea is to make this extremely complicated game simpler. As TrackMan puts it, “The mapping of swing DNA is now possible, as is the quantification and comparison of swing feel vs. real.”
TrackMan began early this century with Dr. Klaus Eldrup-Jorgensen, M.D., who played on the Danish National Team. He wondered why golf instruction, based on ball flight, hadn’t come close to keeping up with technology.
He found a kindred spirit in Fredrik Tuxen, who had been using doppler radar technology to track missiles and bullets.
They created a portable launch monitor/swing analyzer — now the size of a laptop — that provides a shot’s three-dimensional trajectory and 26 “data parameters” such as ball speed, carry yardage, attack angle and club path. Its built-in HD video camera — or an external camera — also captures your swing.
Within a second, TrackMan tells you “the full trajectory of any shot, from 6-foot pitches to 400-yard drives, pinpointing the landing position.” You can look at it later on your phone.
The blur of incomprehensible numbers mean nothing to you … unless you have attended online TrackMan University or are a certified and/or trained TrackMan instructor, club manufacturer or fitter, someone working on USGA rules changes or a golf nerd.
Or maybe one of the 350 LPGA and PGA pros who now use TrackMan, including Michelle Wie, Rory McElroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson.
Or a coach at one of the 150 or so colleges listed on the TrackMan website who have purchased the $25,000 launch monitor.
“Obviously,” University of Hawaii men’s golf coach Ronn Miyashiro says, “it is way out of our budget.”
Submitting TrackMan numbers has now become part of college recruiting. That’s possible because its radar technology, along with other companies that walk in TrackMan’s analytical footsteps, is now available around the world.
There are hundreds of TrackMan facilities in the U.S. Here, Mauna Kea, Maui Nui, Waialae Country Club, Ko Olina, Kiahuna, Princeville and Island Pacific Golf Academy have chosen to post on the TrackMan website, but more places and people have TrackMan and similar equipment. Leia Chung, who won the state high school championship as a Leilehua freshman last month, works with it. Hawaii Golf Hall of Famer David Ishii teaches using a simpler Foresight GC Quad with camera technology.
TV uses the technology to show swings during tournaments. Fittingly, TrackMan also is used in baseball now, and it features tennis champion Roger Federer on its website.
The process is fairly simple but costly — Ko Olina charges $60 for 30 minutes. In that time a trained instructor — and TrackMan — watches your every move.
“You go through your whole bag,” says Clark Miyazaki, who turned pro in 1983 and purchased TrackMan4 a year ago. “After a one-hour session, you’ll know how far you hit all your clubs in carry and total distance, what your clubhead and ball speed is, angle of attack, ball spin, dynamic loft, clubhead path and clubhead position in relation to path, etc.”
TrackMan’s 10 fundamentals are maximizing distance, smash factor (amount of energy transferred from club head to golf ball), spin rate, launch angle and direction, club path, spin axis I and II, straight shot and bounce & roll.
With the numbers provided, a teaching pro can make minor adjustments to setup or ball position, or delve deeper into a specific area. A club fitter can recommend ideal clubs and manufacturers develop new ones. A college coach can look into the future or chart progress. Parker McLachlin’s coach can advise from across the country, without seeing his swing. A hacker can compare their numbers to those of tour players.
Your swing has undergone an X-ray and now you know what to work on. If you fix it, between now and Sept. 30, you can enter the second BMW TrackMan Open, “a global Combine challenge” searching for “the World’s Best Shotmaker.” Prizes total $100,000 and amateurs can win Ryder Cup passes.
It is that simple. Or not.