TrackMan offers the player/coach team benefits that will continue to be discovered for many years to come
One way to label these benefits is by dividing them into the following categories: Technical, Motor Learning and Playing/Performance.
By providing precise and reliable club delivery data information, TrackMan provides golfers with the opportunity to earn Technical proficiency.
With the help of their coach, players can work to understand the link between club delivery and ball performance. TrackMan feedback allows them to fine tune their set up and motion and develop the optimal club delivery to create the exact ball flight they want for any given circumstance.
They can work to get “zeroed out”, can work on a “stock draw” or practice hitting any shot imaginable.
Coaches can also use TrackMan to promote Motor Learning, real habit formation. It provides many opportunities to practice with the kind of feedback that enables this habit formation process.
The COMBINE, APPROACH TEST and APPROACH PRACTICE features are just a few ways that coaches can use TrackMan to promote real motor learning for their players.
Finally, coaches can use TrackMan to help develop the kind of Playing/Performance Skills that get results where it counts…on the course. As an example, this paper will discuss an experiment that was done to help students appreciate the effect of the wind on their shots. It will both document the effects of the wind by showing the data from the testing and will make a few suggestions to help golfers rethink the way that they use the driving range in both warm up and in practice.
What we did:
We set TrackMan up on a windy day so that the wind was coming roughly 90 degrees from the left at one end of my school’s driving range and then went to the opposite side of the range, and set TrackMan up so that the wind was roughly 90 degrees from the right.
In each location, I first aimed at the target and executed shots that were, relative to my ability, zeroed out.
When the wind was from the left my:
- CLUB PATH on 5 shots, averaged -0.5 degrees (from -1.0 to 0.2)
- FACE ANGLE averaged -0.2 degrees (from -1.8 to 0.4)
- FACE TO PATH averaged 0.2 degrees different (-1.2 to 1.1).
These shots, on average landed 42.8 feet (30 to 61.8 feet) to the right SIDE of the target (see below).
When the wind was from the right my:
- CLUB PATH on 5 shots, averaged 0.5 degrees (-1.1 to 2.1)
- FACE ANGLE averaged 0.4 degrees (-.8 to 2.3)
- FACE TO PATH averaged -0.1 degrees (-1.0 to 0.9)different.
These shots, on average, landed 38.8 feet (11.1 to 58.1)to the left SIDE of the target (see below).
Seeing that the shots were relatively zeroed out and that the distance the balls landed to the SIDE was very similar, I thought it reasonable to conclude that the intensity of the wind that day, made shots with this LAUNCH ANGLE, BALL SPEED, DYNAMIC LOFT and SPIN RATE carry this amount to the SIDE.
Make the ball fly straight
Next, I hit shots with the intention of making the ball fly as straight as possible to the target. This meant drawing the ball into the left to right wind and fading it into the right to left wind.
In order to accomplish a straight flight, I had to create a -6.4 FACE TO PATH angle difference (-7.2 to -5.6) in the left to right wind (yellow shots displayed below) and a 5.5 FACE TO PATH angle difference (3.5 to 6.9) in the right to left wind (turquoise shots displayed below). For the draw, my CLUB PATH averaged 5.0 degrees (3.0 to 7.2) and my FACE ANGLE averaged -1.4 degrees (-3.8 to 0.6).
For the fade, my CLUB PATH averaged -3.5 degrees (-4.6 to -1.6) and my FACE ANGLE averaged 2.0 degrees (1.1 to 2.5).
The magnitude of the adjustment that was required to make a ball fly straight in the wind that day was very interesting. It was measured and clear and I think most players would be surprised at how substantial these adjustments needed to be. It made me think both about the ways that golfers play, and the way that they practice.
Having considered the magnitude of the adjustments required to make the ball get to a target in the wind, I make the following recommendation. If you don’t have access to a TrackMan unit, the best thing to do on a windy day is to play golf…don’t spend much time on the range at all. I feel passionately about this suggestion as I too often see players suffer the consequences of staying on the range in strong winds without feedback from TrackMan.
What they tend to do is spend an hour or so memorizing how to play with a single wind direction with each of their clubs until they think that they “figured it out”. What they really figured out is not their “swing” as they intended, they end up working out how to play in this particular wind condition. There are two significant problems with practicing this way:
- The “swing-fix” that the player figured out is likely to be a shot pattern that would be curving a lot more than desirable in a less windy environment. So what has probably occurred is that they have likely adjusted their swing away from where they want it and not towards it.
- When we play golf, we face wind from 360 angles, not just one. So all the time that was spent perfecting one shot could have been better spent on the course learning how to adapt to the many wind directions that will be present when they need to play on a day with a similar wind intensity in the future.
Practice with TrackMan
My advice is very different if a player has access to a TrackMan unit. In that case, there are endless ways to have a very productive practice.
A few examples include:
- Working on grooving “stock shot” numbers on TrackMan and simply let the wind blow the ball to the side of the aim target. This would allow a player to improve proficiency with their stock shot as well as gain a greater appreciation for how this shot is affected by this particular wind.
- After practicing this way for a short time, the player could observe how far off line the wind moved their ball and they could aim the TrackMan unit that far to the side of their end target. This would allow them to practice selecting and committing to a start target that is different from their end target. Later on, when they play, they can draw on this experience to help them decide which shot to play in a similar wind condition. In some instances, they would want to hit their stock shot and let the wind move the ball the way they did in this practice session and in others, they’d want to work the ball against the wind.
- That leads to the next kind of practice. Players could practice hitting different shots to learn how the ball reacts in this wind to each adjustment. This could include adjusting curve while looking at CLUB PATH, FACE ANGLE, FACE TO PATH, LAUNCH DIRECTION and SIDE as well as adjusting trajectory while looking ATTACK ANGLE, DYNAMIC LOFT, SPIN LOFT, LAUNCH ANGLE and CARRY.
How to get the ball to the taget in windy conditions
As a final thought, let’s be clear about what our options are in the wind. If a player wants to get their ball to the target in the wind, they have three options:
- Aim offline enough in order to let the wind bring their stock shot to the target.
- Curve the ball so that their ball can fly directly to the target.
- Execute a shot that uses a little bit of each strategy.
Knowing this creates a great use of TrackMan technology. Players who want to play well where it counts, on the course, should not only use TrackMan to develop their “stock” shot, they should use their time on TrackMan to develop their shot making abilities. Practicing with TrackMan is the best way for each individual player to work with their coach to discover how best to control curve and trajectory.