Investigating The New Technologies In Golf Instruction
Royal Colwood's Jason Giesbrecht Has A Total Commitment To Using Technology In Instruction
Royal Colwood's Director Of Golf Jason Giesbrecht has long embraced technology's value in golf instruction. Recently he travelled to the PGA Show in Orlando to evaluate some of the latest advances in this rapidly evolving sector of the golf industry...
by Jason Giesbrecht
After 23 years as a golf professional I finally made it to my first PGA Show in Orlando Florida this January. What took me so long you ask? I have actually never felt the need. Our own PGA of BC Show gives me access to everything I need to stock the latest products in my club's pro shop so heading south was not a priority.
This year, was different as I had a specific goal... investigate the new diagnostic technologies that are making inroads into our traditional game and as someone who believes in their value, the aisles at Orlando show was like being a kid in a million square foot candy store.
Golf is a very difficult game to manage because so much of what happens in a golf swing has been impossible to measure in the past. Put succinctly, "You can't Manage what you can't Measure' and I have made it my mission to measure everything I could.
My club, Royal Colwood Golf Club, was the first club in BC to incorporate Trackman's radar launch monitor into instruction and club fitting programs. It has has been an invaluable tool in both these disciplines. Our team of professionals has seen our knowledge and understanding grow exponentially while increasing the value of these programs to our members. One thing I have definitely learned from Trackman is that conventional wisdom should not always be accepted without verification and it is clear that the top players are buying into this. Since 2010 there have been eight players other than Tiger Woods reach #1 in the OWGR and all eight have all used Trackman as part of their practice and training.
So it should come as no surprise that the first thing I checked out was Trackman's new TM4 Dual Radar system. Rather than using a single radar unit to measure both the club and the ball TM4 now uses 2 radar units (both housed in one cool orange box) to independently measure the club and the ball which will increase its accuracy, especially on more lofted clubs like wedges where there have been challenges with earlier models.
While Trackman may be the industry's gold standard in club and ball diagnostics, there are other emerging technologies.
Foresight's CG2 with HMT camera system also measures the ball and the club, but only through the impact interval, not the full flight of the ball. The CG2 uses a 10,000 frames per second multi camera system which can measure something Trackman presently does not; the ball's impact position on the club face. This is very valuable information for both club fitting and teaching. This system will be especially valuable for an indoor teaching environment and at about half the price of a Trackman, you can expect to see a few of them showing up in your region.
3D motion capture was a huge part of this year's PGA Show. There are so many things the best golf professionals in the world do differently, but what is it they all do the same? 3D analysis is working to identify these things.
While there are a number of companies working in this area, the ones I like are GEARS Golf, K-Vest and My Swing. Still, each of their systems have their strengths and draw backs. One of the biggest challenges is the cumbersome sensors (and in some cases wires) which need to be attached to the golfer, the club, and in some cases both... but this emerging technology is evolving (read improving) rapidly.
GEARS employs the most complex system and provides the most data using many sensors, 8 high speed cameras, and analyses over 600 images per swing. The simplest system, K-Vest, has also been around the longest.
K-Vest can provide critical information on the kinematic sequence while at the same time it is portable and can be set up in just minutes. It even features a take home learning version which allows students to work on motion changes through biofeedback away from the watchful eye of their professional.
If this all sounds very complicated, well, actually it is. However, there are some very smart people working for these companies each racing against the other to create the best and most usable platform. Each system has some very advanced software designed to make it as simple as possible to assist the professional who is working on motor learning in their students or assessing strengths and weaknesses. The impact of 3D over the next 10 years is going to be significant in the game of golf. This technology will assist in identifying inefficiencies in a player's kinesthetic sequence, dramatically speed up motor learning through bio feedback, and assist in limiting golf related injuries at a very early stage through both swing diagnostics and allowing golf and medical professionals to conduct quantifiable physical screens.
I am still investigating what technology is the best addition for my club but I am leaning towards a 3D system. I can't wait to learn from these new technologies so we can better measure and more quickly improve golfers. Technology is here to stay! The quicker we get on board the better off the game will be.
Jason Giesbrecht is the Director of Golf at the Royal Colwood Golf Club in Victoria, BC. he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.