Have you ever taken a camera to the golf course or practice range, recorded your swing, and thought “Hmm, I thought I was better than that?” On the other hand, have you been afraid to take your camera to your nearest golf facility because you did not know how to set it up correctly?
Camera position is extremely important, and it is often neglected by average golfers and some golf professionals. The point of this article is to teach golfers how to properly set up a camera to video their swing from different positions. The position of the camera can change the appearance of your golf swing in many respects, and it is equally important to set up the camera properly as it is to recognize when it is done improperly.
The first step is getting the right camera. I use two cameras in my swing instruction. I work for GolfTEC, and we use a camera equivalent to a Sony GigE, which is a very expensive high-resolution, high-speed camera used for slow-motion analysis. In addition, I own two other cameras for my instruction business that I started before I took the job teaching for GolfTEC-Philadelphia, the Michael Wheeler Learning Center, LLC.
I own both a Casio EX-FH100 high-speed camera and a Sony GigE camera. I use the Casio on the golf course, while I use the Sony GigE in coordination with my JC Video software, which was set up by Mark Connell, the owner of JC Video. I also own a tripod that I can adjust the leg length and height depending on the situation to ensure a level camera position. Now, I don’t expect golfers to go purchase a $1,000 camera to videotape their swings, as most digital cameras are good now for these purposes. I recommend a camera with at least 30 frames per second recording capability, and something with at least 640 x 480 recording pixels so you can see your video clearly. Now to the second step, which is to understanding how to properly set up the camera.
There are two primary camera positions when you will videotape your golf swing: down-the-line and face-on.
Down-the-line essentially means that the camera is pointing down the target line. There are three positions that Golf Magazine Top-100 instructors and other great instructors use when setting up a down-the-line swing video. The first is on the hands, keeping the HANDS between the camera and the target (photo 1). The second is set up on the target line, keeping the BALL between the camera and the target (photo 2). The third, final, and probably least used, camera position is set up on a golfer’s foot line, keeping the FEET between the camera and the target (photo 3).
My mentor in the business is Ted Sheftic, a Golf Magazine Top-100 instructor, and Pennsylvania’s No. 1 teacher as ranked by Golf Digest. I have been working with Ted for more than 15 years, and he taught me using the camera position set up on the hands. So, for purposes of this article (and any of my future articles), we will talk about setting up the camera in that position. Follow these steps to set up a down-the-line swing video in the proper position:
- Place the camera on a tripod and set the height to EXACTLY hand height and level.
- Set up a ball from where the golfer will be hitting and set up to that ball.
- Place a club on the ground PARALLEL to the target line directly underneath your hands.
- This should be approximately 3-to-4 inches in front of the feet at address, between a golfer’s toes and the ball.
- Line up the camera directly in line with the hand line (the shaft used to represent the hand line should be perfectly straight in the camera’s viewfinder — see photo)
- Hit record!
After a while, golfers will be able to set up down-the-line swing videos very quickly and efficiently, and golfers can quicken the process with the help of a friend or family member. If you decide to use the other camera positions, remember that those will change the LOOK of your swing when you review the swing, which will be discussed in the next article.
Lastly, let’s discuss how to set up a face-on swing video. If you have only one camera, make sure you mark the position of the down the line tripod position before moving to avoid having to repeat the steps mentioned above again. You can use duct tape, tees, etc., to do this. Most of the steps for a face-on video will be the same as the down-the-line, but they are modified to be appropriate for the different position.
- Assure the camera is still at hand height and level.
- Set up a ball from where the golfer will be hitting.
- Place a club on the ground PERPENDICULAR to the target line (form a “T” with the target line club and the ball position club) in line with the golf ball. This will represent the ball position between a golfer’s feet and in relation to his or her body.
- Line up the camera so that the golfer is directly in the middle of the camera’s viewfinder.
- Hit record!
Follow these steps and set up the camera in the same place every time to ensure consistency and help track swing process. In the next article, I will explain golfers you will be able to see from each position, and also what golfers would see if you set up the camera in the wrong position.
Remember, it is best to consult a PGA professional before making swing changes. You wouldn’t prescribe yourself medicine without seeing a doctor, so don’t try to fix your golf swing without professional advice. Best of luck and keep practicing!