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November 1, 2015

TrackMan: Blending Teaching and Technology

Instruction and practice are enhanced through a central focus on technology

Technology plays a pivotal role in the modern era of golf instruction. At the heartbeat of that movement we find launch monitors that can provide numerous data points from a single swing. For many, TrackMan sits at the head of the table in the world of launch monitors, as it’s widely accepted as the “trusted choice” for club and ball tracking.

With the ability to provide precise data and actionable feedback on key parameters, TrackMan is not only helping teaching professionals understand more, but also better communicate complex elements of the golf swing to their students. Beyond that, an expanded platform known as TrackMan University provides golf instructors with a free educational opportunity designed to help users get the most from their investment.

Established in 2003 with the sole purpose of helping teaching professionals understand the critical moments in the golf swing, TrackMan continues to provide tools and software to industry professionals across the globe. For example, Bernie Najar, the PGA director of instruction at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland, says the ability to collect and store data makes TrackMan invaluable. There are countless other examples. This month’s issue will scratch the surface on the myriad ways in which TrackMan is impacting how instructors are teaching the game of golf.

DATA COLLECTION

“TrackMan is a fantastic tool to capture shot patterns and help students understand their tendencies,” says Najar, the 2014 Middle Atlantic PGA Teacher of the Year. “The software makes it easy to share data and has a number of features that reinforce my message to students. In addition, the portability of the unit allows for data capture on the course during playing lessons. It’s a great way to see if my students are taking what we work on to the course.”

WHAT’S REAL AND WHAT’S FEEL

Jason Berry, the men’s head golf coach at Rider University in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, has the privilege of working with talented golfers who understand the intricacies of their swing. With these players, TrackMan is a valuable tool for helping them understand what’s real and what’s feel.

“TrackMan speeds up the diagnosis process and gets rid of the guess work,” says Barry. “The greatest attribute is twofold. Firstly, it gives the player a better understanding of what’s going on in their swing and, secondly, it tangibly shows the player the difference between what they’re feeling and what’s really happening. Contrary to what most people think, it has helped my students become less technical and made it much easier for them to self-correct on the golf course.”

ADVICE FROM AN ORIGINAL TRACKMAN USER

James Leitz, PGA head professional at Tchefuncta Country Club in Covington, Louisiana, was one of the first golf professionals to purchase a TrackMan. Since then, he has spoken at TrackMan conferences from Florida to Madrid to Australia. “When TrackMan first came out it cost $32,000, which was slightly more money than I made teaching that year, but I purchased it anyway,” recalls Leitz. “You need to invest in yourself if other people are going to invest in you. Originally, the TrackMan founders thought the device was more of a clubfitting tool than a teaching tool, but once I saw the data provided I knew its teaching applications were off the charts.

“Whether I have a high handicapper on the range or a scratch golfer, TrackMan is always by my side. One must be thoughtful in the sharing of data, however,” he warns. “Typically I will share ball speed, club speed, path, face and impact point, as most common golfers understand those elements.” Another favorite of Leitz’s is the Combine feature, which allows users to take a standardized test to identify shot-making skills. “I will have them hit 60 shots to 10 different targets, then we identify areas of their game where work is needed,” Leitz describes.

PUT IT TO THE TEST

“What is awesome about TrackMan is the ability to test clubs on the optimizer and find my students ‘sweet spot,’ as well as determine their optimal set makeup by reviewing data such as ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and landing angle,” says PGA Master Professional John Dunigan, the director of instruction at White Manor Country Club in Malvern, Pennsylvania. “Students are able to test coaching suggestions, such as swing or equipment changes, and immediately find out what works best for them.”

SIMULATING ON-COURSE PRESSURE

“The Princeton University golf teams are based here at Springdale Golf Club,” says Keith Stewart, the facility’s PGA head professional. “A few years back, the university purchased two TrackMan units and I took a deep interest in the technology and data provided. “What I have grown to love about TrackMan is the competitive and focused atmosphere it creates. As PGA Professionals, we always hear ‘I can do it on the range, but not on the course,’” says Stewart. “I’ve noticed that TrackMan simulates oncourse pressure while on the range. Whether I’m utilizing the test center or running a Combine, TrackMan creates competitive pressure, which once mastered and tamed on the range can be replicated on the course.”

BEST OF THE BEST

From its precise data to player development tools TrackMan enables teachers and golfers of every skill level to learn, practice and play in a more efficient and enjoyable fashion. Furthermore, it’s also a proven tool for some of the world’s best players. “I enjoy coming out and practicing with TrackMan because it’s almost like a game,” says Ryder Cup hero and PGA Tour star Ian Poulter. “It gives me exact numbers and at the level I’m playing at I need to be precise and that’s what this machine is.”