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How Trackman can help you feel more and think less

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Though the age old adage “drive for show, putt for dough” may be true on some level, we golfers know better. There may be no greater fear in golf than standing on the tee with the wind in your face and knowing you have to hit a fairway with out of bounds on one or… (gulp!) both sides. So while our skill with the flat-stick is certainly one of the key determiners of our success, scoring always starts with a well placed tee-ball. And when we struggle with the driver, golf becomes much more difficult.

Thankfully, help is around the corner. New technology is now making it possible to understand exactly what you do in your swing that makes the ball behave in certain ways. Armed with this knowledge, you can then learn how to feel a swing that gets the ball to travel on the lines you intend.

Enter Trackman

Trackman is a doppler-based radar that can measure, among other things, your swing path in relation to your target and the angle of your club face in relation to your swing path. Arguably, it is these two factors that have the greatest impact on the starting direction of your golf ball, and where it ultimately ends up.

What can Trackman do, and what do the numbers mean?

TrackMan provides accurate, real-time data and graphics on your ball’s launch conditions, flight, and landing. It can measure (among a whole host of other things) swing speed, club path, face angle, launch angle, spin and distance. For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus mainly on club path and face angle.

trackman data

Club path refers to the direction the club head is moving at impact. Face angle refers to the direction your club face is pointing at impact. Ideally, we want the ratio of club path to face angle to be 2:1 for a driver. So in the example above, we have a club path of 6 (meaning 6 degrees to the right), and face angle of 3.5 degrees open (right). This shot started 3.5 degrees right of the target and drew back toward the center, stopping 4.6 feet right of the target line.

This is good news for you and me. It means that we don’t have to be perfect. We just need to use our own unique swing and work to get the ratios in line.

How Trackman saved my driver

Though I’m a decent player, I struggled with my driver for a long time. I could hit a hit snap hook way to the left as easily as I could hit a big push or slice way to the right, so it was difficult to be confident in choosing the right target. In fact, I was so unpredictable, that during last year’s club championships I benched my driver in favor of a 3-wood for two of the three rounds. As you can imagine, I gave up yards to the top players, and didn’t fare as well as I had hoped.

The call for help

This past winter, I sought out Mark Elliott, the Track-Man of my club, and together we set out to save my driver (and my sanity!). 

The Starting Point, May 2014

Trackman article image 2

The Treatment Plan

Over our first few sessions, we determined that I had a fairly consistent inside path, but it was a lack of control with the club face that was causing my troubles off the tee.

Progress, November 2015

Trackman article image 3

How I used the data to think less and feel more

What I needed to do was to not think in terms of numbers, but instead learn the different feels. After I’d hit a shot, Mark would get me to predict the result and ask me how I made this conclusion. What we were doing was making cognitive connections. By predicting the face angle and/or path, I had to connect the feel of the swing to the result. I would then confirm what I felt with the data from Trackman.

The premise was that if I could learn to associate a certain feel to each result, I would be well on my way to making authentic improvement. Each session, we would work off the results. If the data showed my face was closed to the path, Mark might ask me to open the face a little. Of course, opening the face a little has no numerical value. It’s a feel and I would simply have to figure out how I could accomplish this request. It’s amazing how your mind uses logic to problem solve. Simple manipulations in ball position and stance can also make a big difference in path and face angles, and as you start to understand what happens when you change a variable (because Trackman gives you the freedom to experiment) you become very powerful. You learn how to manipulate path and face, and yet still make a similar swing.

When Mark asked me to open the face a little, I turned the grip to the right a tiny bit at address and then moved the ball back slightly in my stance. Then I made the exact same swing… and voila. The face to path ratio was 2:1 and the ball started just right of the target and drew back to center.

Progress, January 2015

Trackman article image 4

Progress, February 2015

Trackman article image 5

Progress, March 2015

Trackman article image 6

There is no doubt in my mind that Trackman can help average golfers, as well as low-handicap golfers. Most people think that by using data like this, they are complicating the game, but I would disagree. For me, Trackman actually made improving simpler, because I no longer had to stand on the range and make assumptions about why my shots went where they did. I knew. By training with Trackman, you will learn how an open face or an inside path feels, for example, and you’ll know what you need to work on.

It’s almost like having your own superhero, rocketing in from the future to save you from the evil “Dr. Hook.” Never fear, Trackman is here!

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Golfers may be the most obsessive group of sportsmen and women on the planet. We live and die with every drive, chip and putt we make. Chris is the founder of Thirteen Under Golf apparel, a 2-handicap, and an emerging author who understands the highs and lows of golf. As an eternal student of the game, (and an admitted Trackman junkie), he is constantly searching for ways to improve. Using his experience - both success and failure - Chris is will share his knowledge with the GolfWRX community to entertain, inspire and motivate you to playing your best golf.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. OldGolfer

    May 21, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Trackman is a good ball tracker, but it CAN NOT measure anything associated with the face… it does not measure face angle.

  2. DB

    May 18, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    See what trackman does to normal golfers? Now people are arguing about the numbers on a clock face! Hahahaha. All joking aside, trackman is a useful tool! No one in their right mind would argue that, from a coaching perspective, it it a great tool to show a golfer some key data that’s causing shot shape or distance outcome . Try not to get too caught up in the numbers. The greats of the game all believed that golf was more mental than physical.

    • Joshuaplaysgolf

      May 19, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      LOL!! Seriously. What in the world is happening that people are arguing over clock faces? That’s an awful lot of thinking going on down there…for an article about feeling rather than thinking.

  3. Steve

    May 18, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Does Golfwrx get a check every time the word “Trackman” is used in an article?

  4. Durotan

    May 18, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Last week I was at this Demoday and to that event there was, of course, a TrackMan too.

    I tried my own driver in the TrackMan and got following numbers:

    Swingspeed = 117 mph.
    AOA = +0.5
    Smash = 1.42
    Carry = 260 yards

    And guess what? Because of my low smash factor the guy at the Demoday wanted to change my setup, and I asked why? His answer was so I could gain more distance.

    I was like. WTF? I don’t need more distance and I don’t need to change anything.
    I like the feel of my shafts.
    I like my ball flight.
    I like the gapping of my clubs.
    I like the dispersion.
    I am satisfied with my driving distance with my driver.
    I am satisfied with the distance with the irons.
    Basicly. I like it all. I like what my eyes see. I like what I feel.

    My point. IF you like what you SEE and FEEL, don’t try to play TrackMan, go out and play golf instead.

    • Durotan

      May 18, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Sorry: 284 yards carry*

    • Jack

      May 19, 2016 at 5:05 am

      With that CHS you should be arguing it well over 300 yards with half decent launch conditions

    • Jmike

      May 19, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Your smash factor is terrible tho,, I do fittings and Demos. Anyone with a 117mph club head speed should be carrying the ball alot further than 260yds

    • anthony

      May 19, 2016 at 9:30 am

      if you like your setup so much, what are you doing at a demo day in the first place?

  5. GEICO

    May 17, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    A: “Trackman is good.”
    B: “Yep, everybody knows that.”
    A: “Well, do you know that it costs you 50 grants?”
    B: “What?…”

    GEICO: “15 minutes on trackman won’t save you 15 strokes.”

  6. tom stickney

    May 17, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Auditing your practice routine with Trackman is a good way to practice if you have access to one for sure, but be careful not to get too wrapped up in the numbers. Always use trackman with adult supervision I always say! 🙂

    • Tom

      May 18, 2016 at 8:22 pm

      Or know your numbers and if/when they go bonkers stop and go get help.

  7. Bassackwards

    May 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    You are the exact contradiction in terms of not understanding your own senses that millions of amateurs go through. You are actually thinking more about how you feel you should be applying your senses to the data given, not the other way around as you describe! It’s the validation of your thoughts with data that is supplementing your sense of feel that is making you understand what your club face doing, which you couldn’t do with feel before you started the Trackman sessions that provided you with the correct information necessary to make you THINK more about HOW it’s all being applied.

    That is why this worked for you, because you had it completely backwards and upside down in your understanding of your own senses, you needed the data so you can SEE what was going on.

    Now you know how hard it is for teachers to teach some students who have this backwards-sense problem.

  8. Spin

    May 17, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Just get a new shaft and add get a more forgiving head. You’re trying to hit it too straight, which is what happens to everybody when they get on this type of analysis. If you can’t move the ball in any direction you want at will, then you have the wrong driver. Period. No need for Trackman.

  9. Chris Stinson

    May 17, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Very well written article Mr billingsly. Looks like I better get on track and sort my swing out.

  10. Eric

    May 17, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Good write up. I’m thinking of taking trackman lessons to start dialing in some numbers, but it sounds like a good way to identify some swing issues as well.

    BTW – Each minute on the clock is 2 degrees. Not busting your B@!!$, just don’t want you getting into the weeds based on some bad math.

    • Shank

      May 17, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      2 degrees?? Don’t you mean 6 or am I missing something?

      360 degrees divided by 60 = 6 degrees.

    • Joe

      May 18, 2016 at 5:56 am

      6*60 = 360

    • Eric

      May 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      I see what you’re saying. I guess it depends how you look at a clock.

      12 hours with 60 minutes each – 12×60= 720 minutes 720 minutes/360 degrees = 2

      • TR1PTIK

        May 18, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        There are only 60 “minute” marks on a clock. Not 720. Each minute on the CLOCK is 6 degrees. I understand how you came to your conclusion, but you’re thinking in terms of time instead of positions on a clock face.

        • Eric

          May 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm

          Yep. Like I said, depends on how you look at a clock. No worries!

      • DW

        May 19, 2016 at 12:55 am

        If you take it that way then it would be 360 degrees / 720 minutes which is actually 0.5 degrees per minute. Taken in reverse, 0.5 degrees x 720 minutes = 360 degrees. By the way, where can I get a clock that shows 720 minutes?

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Instruction

Davies: Training the trail elbow in the golf swing

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Alistair Davies shares with you how to get the correct trail arm and elbow action in the downswing. He shares some great drills that can be done at the range or at home to help lower your scores.Get the correct training for the trail arm here today!

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The important lessons you can learn from Peter Senior’s golf swing

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He may not be a household name in the United States, but Australia’s Peter Senior has a swing for the ages. At 60 years old, Senior has 34 worldwide professional wins including the 2015 Australian Masters beating a competitive field with several top-ranked players in the world. Turning professional in 1978, his career has spanned over 40 years.

Senior’s game and swing have stood the test of time, and the longevity of his career should be recognized. Senior formerly worked with Australian instructor Gary Edwin, and the structure to this swing taught to Senior paved the way for a future of consistent, high-quality professional golf.

Having a great golf swing isn’t the only key to becoming a great golfer, one must learn to play the game. However, you can learn a lot from Senior’s swing.

The origin to Senior’s swing lies in his set-up. Senior sets up in what I call his “hitting angles” or a position that mirrors impact.

From this position, Senior is able to simply keep these angles he established at address throughout the swing. This is why the set-up is so critical. The further he deviates from these “hitting angles”, the more he will have to find that impact position with his body in the backswing and downswing. In other words, more movement. The goal of his backswing will be to maintain these original starting angles.

From the picture, Senior has maintained his original body shape that he established at address. From this position, it will be much easier and repeatable to return the club to impact.

Note how his impact position now mirrors his original address position. All his original angles were maintained with a slight bump of the body towards the target. From impact, he can simply fold up his arms as his right side of his body rotates around his left side, keeping the clubface square to the body.

This standing tall finish position with the head following the torso is much easier on the back. His body has come forward and around beautifully, covering the ball for a proper strike.

The beauty of Senior’s swing lies in its simplicity. The changes Senior made to his swing can apply to anyone. Let’s look at two simple drills to make your swing more efficient and powerful.

“To a large extent, my backswing is a product of my set-up position” – Tiger Woods, Golf Digest 2020

To get into these impact angles simply practice pushing into an impact bag with the head and shaft of the club. Make sure your trail arm is tucked, lowering the trail shoulder as you pressure the bag.

To get the feeling of the proper coil from this set-up position, grab an impact bag and hold the bag in front of you.

From here, swing the bag around you with your arms keeping the top of the bag level. You will feel the trail side of your body move back and the lead side move out, coiling around your spine angle.

The trail glute will also move back and around with this drill, a key move the great Ben Hogan used to pivot his body. To develop an efficient swing and a long, injury-free career, take note of Peter Senior’s key moves.

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Fix early extension: 3 exercises to get your a** in gear

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It’s pretty common knowledge that “early extension” is a problem for golfers everywhere, but how does it affect your body and your game? And what can you do to fix it?

First, let’s look at early extension in its most simple form as a physical issue rather than a technical issue.

During the swing, we are asking our body to not only create force, but also resist a number of different forces created by the aggressive rotational pattern we call a golf swing. The problem comes down to each player’s unique dysfunction which will likely include bad posture, weak glutes or a locked out thoracic spine for example.

So when we then ask the body to rotate, maintain spine angle, get the left arm higher, pressure the ground, turn our hips to the target (to name a few) a lot of mobility, strength and efficiency are required to do all of this well.

And not everyone, well actually very few of us, has the full capability to do all of this optimally during the swing. The modern lifestyle has a lot to do with it, but so does physiology and it has been shown that tour players as well as everyday golfers suffer from varying levels of dysfunction but can ultimately get by relative to learned patterns and skill development.

But for the majority of players early extension leads to one or more of the following swing faults:

  • Loss of spine angle/posture. During the swing, a player will ‘stand up’ coming out of their original and desired spine angle, this alters the path and the plane of the club.
  • “Humping” the ball. Johnny Wunder’s preferred term for the forward and undesirable movement of the lower body closer to the ball.

Lack of rotation during the swing occurs due to the shift in the center of gravity caused by the loss of posture as your body does its best to just stay upright at all.

Ultimately, early extension leaves us “stuck” with the club too far behind us and nowhere to go—cue massive high push fade or slice going two fairways over (we’ve all been there) or a flippy hook as your body backs up and your hands do whatever they can to square it up.

Not only is this not a good thing if you want to hit a fairway, it’s also a really bad way to treat your body in general.

As a general rule, your body works as a system to create stability and mobility simultaneously allowing us to move, create force, etc. When we can’t maintain a stable core and spinal position or force is being transferred to an area that shouldn’t be dealing with it, we get issues. Likely, this starts with discomfort, possibly leading to prolonged pain, and eventually injury.

The body has a whole lot to deal with when you play golf, so it’s a good idea to start putting in the work to help it out. Not only will you reduce your risk of injury, but you’ll also likely play better too!

So we have three simple exercises for you here that you can do at home, or anywhere else, that will help you with the following elements

  • Posture
  • Core strength
  • Glute function
  • Thoracic mobility
  • Asymmetrical balance
  • Ground force development

#1: Forward lunge with rotation

  1. Standing tall, core engaged with a club in front of your chest, take a reasonable step forward.
  2. Stabilize your lead knee over your front foot and allow your trail knee to move down towards the ground, trying to keep it just above the surface.
  3. Maintaining your spine angle, rotate OVER your lead leg (chest faces the lead side) with the club at arm’s length in front of your torso keeping your eyes facing straight forwards.
  4. Rotate back to center, again with great control, and then step back to your original standing position.
  5. Repeat on other leg.

#2: Bird dog

  1. Get down on all fours again focusing on a quality, neutral spine position.
  2. Extend your left arm forward and your right leg backward.
  3. Control your breathing and core control throughout as we test balance, stability and core activation.
  4. Hold briefly at the top of each rep and return to start position.
  5. Repeat with right arm and left leg, alternating each rep.
  6. If this is difficult, start by working arms and legs individually, only life 1 arm OR 1 leg at a time but still work around the whole body.

#3: Jumping squat

  1. Start with feet shoulder-width apart, eyes fixed forward.
  2. Engage your squat by sending your knees forwards and out to create pressure and torque, whilst sending your hips down and back.
  3. Squat down as far as possible whilst maintaining a neutral spine, active core and heels on the ground.
  4. As you naturally come out of the squat, push the ground away using your whole foot, creating as much speed and force as possible as you jump in the air.
  5. Land with excellent control and deceleration, reset and repeat.

Got 10 minutes? Sample workout

3 Rounds

  1. 10 Forward Lunge with Rotation (5 each leg)
  2. 10 Bird Dog (5 Each side or 5 each limb if working individually)
  3. 5 Jumping Squats
  4. 1 Minute Rest

If you can take the time to make this a part of your routine, even just two or three times per week, you will start to see benefits all round!

It would also be a perfect pre-game warm-up!

And one thing you can do technically? Flare your lead foot to the target at address. A huge majority of players already do this and with good reason. You don’t have to alter your alignment, rather keep the heel in its fixed position but point your toes more to the target. This will basically give you a free 20 or 30 degrees additional lead hip rotation with no real side-effects. Good deal.

This is a great place to start when trying to get rid of the dreaded early extension, and if you commit to implementing these simple changes you can play way better golf and at least as importantly, feel great doing it.

 

To take your golf performance to new levels with fitness, nutrition, recovery, and technical work, check out everything we do on any of the following platforms.

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