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Opinion & Analysis

TrackMan/FlightScope are more than teaching tools

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Are golf radar systems like Trackman and FlightScope just for club fitting and working on swing mechanics?

To me, they’re much more than that. They’re amazing tools for developing players.

There’s a belief that Trackman and FlightScope can make the game too technical, and that a golfer has to be a scientist to understand all of the data the system calculates. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Earlier this year, TrackMan released its new Test Center. FlightScope has similar software called FlightScope Skills, but because I have a Trackman I will focus on Trackman’s system.

The Test Center allows golf coaches to help develop golfers into players, giving them the ability to create a series of test and game-like situations to help golfers perform better. That means coaches can go through playing lessons and skill challenges right on the range with their students.

Trackman Test Center

As a coach, I have to know my players’ strengths and weaknesses to truly make them better golfers. Through the Test Center, I have created a 25-shot evaluation that covers 60-to-160-yard shots and the driver. Once the test is completed and a score is given for overall performance and individual yardages, my students and I will focus on a few key yardages to develop on course performance.

For example, if 100-yard shots are a weakness, then we will first work on distance control. We work to develop a swing and understanding club selection and shot trajectory to hit that shot.

Then we will move into clubface control to get direction down. Retesting that yardage and making improvements shows that a weakness has now been developed into a skill.

The last test we will do is a random one that includes that yardage along with a range of different yardages to see if the player can execute the shot in tournament-like conditions with one chance to do it. This type of test will determine if the newly developed skill is ready for the course.

Creating a playing lesson on the range gives golfers the opportunity to develop his or her course management skills and understand club selection and dispersion rate. Creating a golf course that places an emphasis on driving and iron play that only allows the player to only have one chance to hit the shot will give them the feel of actually playing a round. Once the test is completed and a score is given, we will repeat and try to beat the score. Always measuring and improving is what turns golfers into great players.

Trackman Nine-Hole Playing Test

Lastly, there is a test I use called the “TrackMan Combine.” This 60-shot test has golfers his shots that range from 60 to 180 yards, as well driving yardages. Six shots are hit to each distance and a score is provided at the end. This is a worldwide standardized test that is posted to www.mytrackman.com for people to measure themselves against other players in their category or to see what the best players in the world are scoring.

As you can see, systems like TrackMan and FlightScope are more than teaching tools — they are coaching tools. Not only will they give you facts about what your club is doing through impact, they give you measurable improvement data of your golf skills.

Tour professionals and golfers all over the world are improving their skills with technologies that aren’t placing as much emphasis on technique as they are performance. I know that not everyone has access to a TrackMan or FlightScope, but anyone can create their own test and a point system to measure their skills.

Make the goal of your practice to become a better all-around player, not just to hit a lot of range balls. I bet you will see your scores lower in the end.

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Greg Baresel has been recognized as one of Chicagoland areas top young coaches. His students include recreational and competitive players. He was nominated for the Golf Digest Best Young Teachers List, is a contributing writer for Popgolf Magazine, has appeared in Golf Infuzion Magazine, as well as other various publications. Greg’s unique style offers unlimited learning through a scientific approach using Trackman Technology, which measures performance through geometry and physics. Also known for his ability to connect with each person, Greg’s players have reached success in part due to his ability to coach every part of the game. www.golfwithgreg.com

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dakota Jones

    Aug 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    We have FlightScope GC2 at the Dick’s Sporting Goods I work at and I go in there all the time to practice my partial shots, it has definitely really helped.

  2. paul

    Aug 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I first tried a flight scope and loved it at an indoor facility. i practiced distance control and accuracy on it last winter and knocked 7-8 off my handicap just by knowing my exact carry distances with each club and the effects of choking down 3/4″.

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On Spec

On Spec: Dr. Paul Wood, Ping Golf’s VP of Engineering

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Host Ryan Barath talks all things design and innovation with VP of Engineering at Ping Golf, Dr. Paul Wood.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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19th Hole

GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown – Quarter-finals

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@neilhartmantv

There were no major shocks in round one of our GolfWRXers vote for best U.S. Open venue, but five-time host Olympic Club was a casualty, losing out to Pinehurst in what was our most competitive match-up. The west coast venue was defeated by a margin of 63% to 37%, in a round which saw the majority of match-ups prove comfortable for the heavy hitters. 

Here is a look at how WRXers voted during round one.

Game 1: Pebble Beach (90%) vs Torrey Pines South (10%)

Game 2: Winged Foot (81%) vs Oakland Hills (19%)

Game 3: Baltusrol (73%) vs Chambers Bay (27%)

Game 4: Pinehurst Resort No.2 (63%) vs Olympic Club (37%)

Game 5: Oakmont (74%) vs Bethpage Black (26%)

Game 6: Southern Hills (76%) vs Olympia Fields (24%)

Game 7: Merion (90%) vs Erin Hills (10%)

Game 8: Shinnecock (86%) vs Congressional (14%)

Now we’re onto the quarter-finals, with some tasty match-ups. We’ll leave voting open for 48 hours. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and lock in our semi-finalists.

Get voting!

*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*

QF 1

Pebble Beach

  • Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
  • Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
  • Avg. winning score: -5.33

Winged Foot GC

  • Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
  • Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.75

QF 1

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QF 2

Baltusrol GC

  • Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
  • Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -4.25

Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)

  • Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
  • Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.33

QF2

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QF 3

Oakmont CC

  • Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
  • Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -2.71

Southern Hils CC

  • Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
  • Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

QF 3

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QF 4

Merion GC

  • Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: (+0.25)

Shinnecock Hills GC

  • Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
  • Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

QF 4

View Results

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Opinion & Analysis

Clark: A teacher’s take on Brandel Chamblee’s comments

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Because I’m writing to a knowledgeable audience who follows the game closely, I’m sure the current Brandel Chamblee interview and ensuing controversy needs no introduction, so let’s get right to it.

Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, now plays a role as a TV personality. He has built a “brand” around that role. The Golf Channel seems to relish the idea of Brandel as the “loose cannon” of the crew (not unlike Johnny Miller on NBC) saying exactly what he thinks with seeming impunity from his superiors.

I do not know the gentleman personally, but on-air, he seems like an intelligent, articulate golf professional, very much on top of his subject matter, which is mostly the PGA Tour. He was also a very capable player (anyone who played and won on the PGA Tour is/was a great player). But remember, nowadays he is not being judged by what scores he shoots, but by how many viewers/readers his show and his book have (ratings). Bold statements sell, humdrum ones do not.

For example, saying that a teacher’s idiocy was exposed is a bold controversial statement that will sell, but is at best only partly true and entirely craven. If the accuser is not willing to name the accused, he is being unfair and self-serving. However, I think it’s dangerous to throw the baby out with the bathwater here; Brandel is a student of the game and I like a lot of what he says and thinks.

His overriding message in that interview is that golf over the last “30-40 years” has been poorly taught. He says the teachers have been too concerned with aesthetics, not paying enough attention to function. There is some truth in that, but Brandel is painting with a very broad brush here. Many, myself included, eschewed method teaching years ago for just that reason. Method teachers are bound to help some and not others. Maybe the “X swing” one player finds very useful, another cannot use it all.

Brandel was asked specifically about Matthew Wolff’s unique swing: Lifting the left heel, crossing the line at the top, etc. He answered, “of course he can play because that’s how he plays.” The problem would be if someone tried to change that because it “looked odd.” Any teacher worth his weight in salt would not change a swing simply because it looked odd if it was repeating good impact. I learned from the great John Jacobs that it matters not what the swing looks like if it is producing great impact.

Now, if he is objecting exclusively to those method teachers who felt a certain pattern of motions was the one true way to get to solid impact, I agree with him 100 percent. Buy many teach on an individual, ball flight and impact basis and did not generalize a method. So to say “golf instruction over the last 30-40 years” has been this or that is far too broad a description and unfair.

He goes on to say that the “Top Teacher” lists are “ridiculous.” I agree, mostly. While I have been honored by the PGA and a few golf publications as a “top teacher,” I have never understood how or why. NOT ONE person who awarded me those honors ever saw me give one lesson! Nor have they have ever tracked one player I coached.  I once had a 19 handicap come to me and two seasons later he won the club championship-championship flight! By that I mean with that student I had great success. But no one knew of that progress who gave me an award.

On the award form, I was asked about the best, or most well-known students I had taught. In the golf journals, a “this-is-the-teacher-who-can-help-you” message is the epitome of misdirection. Writing articles, appearing on TV, giving YouTube video tips, etc. is not the measure of a teacher. On the list of recognized names, I’m sure there are great teachers, but wouldn’t you like to see them teach as opposed to hearing them speak? I’m assuming the “ridiculous” ones Brandel refers to are those teaching a philosophy or theory of movement and trying to get everyone to do just that.

When it comes to his criticism of TrackMan, I disagree. TrackMan does much more than help “dial in yardage.” Video cannot measure impact, true path, face-to-path relationship, centeredness of contact, club speed, ball speed, plane etc. Comparing video with radar is unfair because the two systems serve different functions. And if real help is better ball flight, which of course only results from better impact, then we need both a video of the overall motion and a measure of impact.

Now the specific example he cites of Jordan Spieth’s struggles being something that can be corrected in “two seconds” is hyperbolic at least! Nothing can be corrected that quickly simply because the player has likely fallen into that swing flaw over time, and it will take time to correct it. My take on Jordan’s struggles is a bit different, but he is a GREAT player who will find his way back.

Brandel accuses Cameron McCormick (his teacher) of telling him to change his swing.  Do we know that to be true, or did Jordan just fall into a habit and Cameron is not seeing the change? I agree there is a problem; his stats prove that, but before we pick a culprit, let’s get the whole story. Again back to the sensationalism which sells! (Briefly, I believe Jordan’s grip is and has always been a problem but his putter and confidence overcame it. An active body and “quiet” hands is the motion one might expect of a player with a strong grip-for obvious reason…but again just my two teacher cents)

Anyway, “bitch-slapped” got him in hot water for other reasons obviously, and he did apologize over his choice of words, and to be clear he did not condemn the PGA as a whole. But because I have disagreements with his reasoning here does not mean Brandel is not a bright articulate golf professional, I just hope he looks before he leaps the next time, and realizes none of us are always right.

Some of my regular readers will recall I “laid down my pen” a few years ago, but it occurred to me, I would be doing many teachers a disservice if I did not offer these thoughts on this particular topic!

 

 

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