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GEARS: A game-changing technology for golf instruction and club fitting

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There seems to be a debate in golf instruction concerning old-school versus new-school teaching. I think the discussion is mostly academic and largely a product of the golf blogosphere, which is in reality an amalgam of disparate ideas, the sum of which can lead to more confusion than clarity. The point is that any good teacher of the game should be a student of all the new science while striving for the simplest ways to convey the data to their students.

Imagine taking a golf lesson that removes any doubt about what your golf swing is doing. Imagine having the confidence to know exactly what to work on. Even picture a scenario where you can virtually see yourself on every swing. It’s a reality with a new technology called GEARS golf.

GEARS, which stands for Golf Evaluation and Research System, was launched at the PGA show in 2014 after five years of development. It’s a full swing, club and body-tracking system used by PGA pros, club fitters, teachers and equipment manufacturers to measure tiny nuances in full 3D from address to follow through. Unlike Trackman and FlightScope, it’s not a Doppler radar system; it’s a motion-capture system built on the same technology used by biomechanists and filmmakers. With GEARS, eight 1.7-megapixel cameras run at 360 frames per second creating measurements as fine as 0.2 mm. There are no wires, and it works for any golfer and any golf club.

“GEARS is the most accurate golf swing tracking system on the planet,” says Michael Neff, Director of GEARS Sports. And I believe him.

A typical indoor setup of Gears.

A typical indoor setup of Gears. The system can be transported inside and out and from course to course.

In my many years of teaching our game, I have always found it necessary to ask three simple questions:

  • What is the ball doing?
  • What did the club do to influence the ball?
  • What did player do to influence the golf club?

GEARS is the only system I have ever found that answers all three questions with absolute certainty, thanks to its ability to analyze over 600 images per swing in less than a second. In the videos below, you can see just a few examples of what the system offers.

Club Head Speed and Club Face Contact

Attack Angle

Club Head Path

Some golfers, and even some golf instructors might consider this too much detail. Why would anyone need this much information? Well, you may or may not… but why not have access to all the accurate information you can and then simply take from it what you need?

You can use the info GEARS provides for a thorough club fitting, or find the things you need to work on in your swing. Remember the avatars you see in these videos are of YOU swinging the golf club. The data gathered is the true trace of the arms, body, wrists and all parts of the golf club throughout the entire swing.

Many of you who read my GolfWRX articles know me as a non-technical teacher, and to a large extent I do try to simplify my instruction and condense the information as much as possible. But non-technical is not to be confused with unscientific or irrational. Everything any good teacher does must be based on the latest research in the field and GEARS represents that horizon. Three-dimensional analyses are at the forefront of where teaching and fitting is right now, and to disregard it is a disservice to our students. What I particularly like is that GEARS can offer me measurements, not estimates, and that is the essence of the this cutting edge system.

There are currently 32 GEARS systems in the United States. Systems sell for about $32,000, and golfers can book time on a system for roughly $200-$250 for 1-2 hours. Email info@gearssports.com to learn more.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. ooffa

    Oct 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Garbage

  2. Dan Sueltz

    Oct 5, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I have used the GEARS system and it has some extremely good information for clubfitting as well as instruction. For clubfitting, it has the best information for tempo, transition, release and face contact (of course the other important stuff like club/ball speed, smash, launch, spin and attack angle). Trying to figure out the exact combination of shafts that will make our fitting sessions even more productive before we pull the trigger on this system. Reason is that it takes a while to calibrate the shaft/head combination so it could be cumbersome in a fitting if you do not have the right combinations to begin with. Love the system though…of course I am a techno geek that has seen the evolution of clubfitting and this is the next great thing. Great job GEARS!

  3. RJ

    Sep 27, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Hey Dennis,
    Good stuff as usual. I am all about the technology in the game also. How the info is dispersed to the student is the key, bird like portions work best I have found.
    Trackman has parameters that never see the light of day at our place and Gears is no different. Most of the time I do not even show the numbers, only discuss them so they can focus on the task at hand. Unfortunately there are a few that are very traditional when it come to the sport and like the “Keep it simple stupid approach”. Keep on writing and I will keep reading Pro.. Best wishes and good health!

  4. Shankmaster

    Sep 22, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    At what point is the golfer overwhelmed with information?
    How does he/she know what part of the swing needs to be “fixed” first?
    According to this system what is a “correct” swing?
    What would this system tell about Jim Furyk, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Chi-Chi Rodriguez swing?

  5. emerson boozer

    Sep 20, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Dennis, great, great. Article. Tech has improved my game more in the past 6mos than anything in the past 15years. Understanding the physics and biomechanics behind the golf swing is truly important to actually implementing on the course and ultimately developing confidence and consistent feel. Plus, now i know exactly why a shot goes astray and how to fix it.

    If you could also do one on hand path for drivers and irons that would be awesome.

    Finally, forget the trolls here, they are just intimidated about where to start to eliminate their own ignorance.

    • Mad-Mex

      Sep 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Wipe you nose again, you missed a spot,,,,,,,,
      So we are not to respond nor comment on these articles? And if we do all we should do is compliment and praise?
      Reality check,,,, $200-$250- that’s what many golfers spend on golf a month, they are also the ones who are keeping many golf courses from going under,,,,

  6. Mad-Mex

    Sep 15, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    So this GEAR thing tells me that my angle of attack is 3.75 degrees too steep, that I am coming out to in by 3 degrees and the face is open 1.5 degrees, but the ball is going straight or baby fade ( I have in fact a slight out to in swing and my miss IS a baby fade),,,,,,,,,

    Now what !?!?!

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      3.75 too steep compared to what? 3 degrees out-in with 1.5 open hit in the middle of the face would be a baby fade? What is your question? if your ball flight belies path/face relationship, there’s a good chance your hitting the toe in this case. It’s known as horizontal gear effect.

      • Mad-Mex

        Sep 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm

        Maybe I should explain my post a little better,,,,,,,,,,,,, Let say I got all that information from the system, now what am I supposed to do with it?!?!? How do I correct it?!?!? How do I know its fixed?!?! How do I know when am off again ?!?! There is way too much info being fed to golfers, I have read posts here of people saying how they lowered their RPM’s by 200 simply by buying a new $300 shaft,,, too much emphasis on numbers and not on feel,,,

        But I could be wrong

    • Jim

      Sep 24, 2016 at 1:30 am

      The professional giving you your lesson on this will show the most important issue(s) AND explain why you should correct them – after all, that’s why you’re there – hopefully not just to do an MRI on your golfswing and then do nothing to fix the problem it found.- Just as if only using good video camera’s. They SHOULD while reviewing your video
      with you, be explaining both sides ; WHAT
      you DID to get to a bad – say ‘top position’ & how to
      change the move and get to a better spot, WHY the less than good position you ended up in now affects the next move you (can – or now must HAVE to) do The ability to make an easy repetitive swing – or not – is always a byproduct of what happened one or two moves before…

      I have wireless/markerless 3D Biometric
      motion analysis and use maybe 40% of all the areas it measures, and it’s awesome for actually quantifying things like shoulder & hip turn, weight distribution, weight shift spine tilt, etc…I can show you YOU – not a stick figure – and say if you’re shoulder’s only turning 69 or 72 degrees we can work on getting it to 85, then 90 (unless a physical limitation is present)….
      Not all brilliant people are good teachers (Foley?)
      A good teacher makes it flow and make sense as part of making his case why the student should change, needs to change OR absolutely HAS TO change – if they want to improve, stop hurting, or reach their potential.

      Remember, you came to us. If someone has this and can’t give you a full and easily understood (some numbers included too) analysis of your swing, what you’re doing well & not, what needs to change to meet your goals and how the two of you will go about it by the end of the first 15 minutes – including practice swings & some warm up shots, they’re too lost in their tech stuff and not focused enough on the human next to ’em

      I’ll bet your buddy Parson will buy one 🙂

  7. GEARS Golf

    Sep 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    We’ve added the map of GEARS system installation sites to http://gearssports.com/, for those who would like to see/try our product.

    Otherwise, click here to go straight to the map!
    https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?mid=1DX8enNc5vdzyLFQ099-BD_vOtrk

  8. ooffa

    Sep 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    That’s a whole lot of crap there using to tell me I slice the ball. Thanks but no thanks.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Always glad to help. You could always play a course with 18 doglegs to the right…

      • ooffa

        Sep 16, 2016 at 6:41 am

        Certainly not the nurturing comment I would expect from an award winning teacher.
        Excuse me could you help me hit the ball further.
        Just play a shorter course. Glad I could help.
        Thanks teach, same time next week?

        • Mr. Wedge

          Sep 16, 2016 at 12:51 pm

          It was a good response to your initial pointless, yet derogatory, comment. The system will show/tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong. It’s up to YOU, or with the help of a good instructor, to figure out how to fix those flaws.

          • Mad-Mex

            Sep 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm

            Am with ooffa,,,,,,,,,, besides, a good teacher will correct you swing for a fraction of this system!!!

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Thank you for calling the article “a whole lot of crap”…If you want help with the slice, I’d be happy to help you, send me a video. But no need to demean the article. Thx

  9. Shooters Tour

    Sep 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    A major concern with this system are the sensors placed on the shaft and club-head. The sensors are not weightless, producing data that is not entirely accurate. This also increases swing weight to a considerable factor, having tried GEARS last year.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Swing weight changes 1 step and head markers weigh 1 gram each and shaft clip is 8 gram

      We have had no negative feedback from any of the tour players that have been on the system

      This only way to accurately find the center of a marker is if it’s a ball. This is how we find the center to within 00.2mm

      Small price to pay for most accurate tool to measure the body, they wrists, grip, shaft, head and face. Oh and all at the same time…

  10. Dennis Clark

    Sep 15, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I wrote this article to inform you that there is currently a technology called GEARS which offers the many things I described, just as there is, say, an iPhone 7 you can now buy and several new apps you put on that phone. Any and all of the latest technology is an option, a choice that we, the consumers, make or NOT make. In fact golf itself is an optional hobby. No one is suggesting you buy it, simply saying that it’s there. As for the myriad features, i suggest you take as much or as little as you like. If you’re looking for one particular area of your club or swing to correct, GEARS will identify that area. Forget the rest. Also, the technology is quite obviously not a home product to be set up in ones garage, just as a heart monitor is not meant for your bedroom. That’s why there are professional studios that provide this service on an hourly basis. Thx.

  11. Uncle Buck

    Sep 15, 2016 at 3:12 am

    For crying out loud, just hit the ball the best you can 3 times and hopefully have a look at par!!! All these gadgets and gizmos, fitting carts, 300 shaft options, 1300 grips to choose from, lasers, 36 brands of golf balls, etc.!! Just step up to da tee and hit it, find it, hit again, again, and pull the flat
    stick!! I’m up to here with all the nonsense already.

    • Jeffrey Purtell

      Sep 15, 2016 at 3:21 am

      Amen Bro

    • Mr. Wedge

      Sep 16, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      You’re suggesting no one actually puts effort into improving their game, and just be happy with the way they hit it, whether that’s good or terrible. That makes a lot of sense…

  12. Philip

    Sep 14, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Better data is always better. Especially as it eventually filters down to things that a greater amount of people can afford and use. Put this on a grass driving range in which I can watch the real flight of my ball and I’m interested. Combine this with a swing coach that excels at getting one into their zone as their swing and technique is being evaluated and you have a winner (I had the experience of this last week – awesome session). My only issue with a lot of this technology is the presentation of the images and video from a 3rd person perspective. The last I checked I swing the golf club from within the swing, not outside looking in. It is from this point of view one needs to understand the swing, not from a camera person looking through a view finder. Granted, short of projecting a holographic video around myself, I have no simple answer to the issue myself.

  13. Rich B

    Sep 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    The technology available today is great in the right hands. I would also like to know where this is available. Hopefully, on the West Coast or close to it. Aloha

  14. Emo

    Sep 14, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Yeah? How much does the whole system cost? And don’t give me the PGA discount price, we know they get to lease this stuff at big discounted prices. What would it cost for a normal person to buy one for his or her home?

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 14, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      last paragraph in the article details it I believe

    • Jim

      Sep 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      Enough is enough…consider this the first gen Laser disc player of over the top crazy shit HUMANS can’t possibly need. Wait 6 years and it’ll be half the hassle and half the price.
      I LOVE TECH…Got Trackman and between that and my SwingGuru Pro most current editionn I can already produce too much ‘close enough for gov’t work’ OR SCRATCH GOLF data (within 2-3 degrees of measured spine tilt, shoulder tilt each arm and leg flexion, shoulder turn, hip turn head movement blah blah AND dead on
      accurate live time weight distribution & shift withnd with NO WIRES. I can live without all that because my 3 IDS
      cameras running 2@225fps (down the line & face on) and
      1 @ 450fps showing the clubhead CLEAR AS DAY from last 4 feet of downswing can see path, face rotation exactly where ball is struck and any deviation or head rotation from force of impact… The visualization of THE REAL CLUBHEAD AND PLAYER is 109 times better for the student to see amd understand than all the numbers we get from Trackman (which however is indispensable for driver and shaft fittings) but when conpared to the High Speed HD cameras bo where near as helpful for lessons – except for the rop 5% of my competitive players swinging >105.

      The “Normal” person who’d buy this “for their home” already has the best 40K “Full Swing” box simulator and 2 sets of PXG’s – staff bags too. One for home and one for the club….

      No one – maybe Woods or Pelz would buy this monstrosity –
      for their ‘home’ – but then again, they’d end up getting it comp’d.

      nothing beats good clear multiple high speed cameras & some foot-rot spray on the clubface

      • Jim

        Sep 14, 2016 at 10:35 pm

        I HATE IT when this site/my *NOTE EAT a draft I’m working on and says ‘server timed out’ and the friggin thing disappears – only to post AN HOUR LATER with the REWRITTEN post…

        My apologies to all. Hey GWRX – Feel free to delete this first one….

    • Jim

      Sep 14, 2016 at 10:20 pm

      ENOUGH already! I LOVE TECH…This will be great for fine tuning robot golfers for combat – once they evolve from just smashing each other up on ‘Battle Bots’…

      I can produce way too much biomechanical data now with my Swing Guru Pro 3D WIRELESS & MARKERLESS system. IT gives more info than a human player OR COACH needs. The latest gen produces spine tilt, shoulder tilt, stance to the cm. Real time dead on weight distribution & full motion shift – without pressure pads, shoulder & hip turn, head motionn arm n leg motion.. and more.blah blah numbers no one needs. I can show tilt n turn accurate within a couple degrees – “close enough for Government work” – OR SCRATCH GOLF. My Trackman, while INDESPENSABLE for driver & shaft fitting, spits out more numbers than all but my top 5% of competitive players need.

      Where as my 3 High Speed HD IDS camerasn 2 running @ 225 fps (face on & down the line) and the 3rd dedicated over the 4 feet od clubhead approaching, rotating into and striking the ball give CLEAR AS DAY images inch by inch SHOWING THE REAL PATH, FACE ANGLE & IMPACT with the ball.

      These visuals of the real human I’m teaching, his/her belly or boobs getting in the way, their actual hands and glove and their real club – are FAR better than all the numbers all the other stuff combined yields.

      As far as the “NORMAL GUY” (?!) Who’d buy this monstrosity “for their home”? – They already own the 35K FULL SIZE BOX “Full Swing” Simulator and probably have two of those curverd XXXXHD 10K 60″ Samsung TV’s and bar in their simulator room…along with 3 full sets of PXG’s -one for home, one for the club & one to show off in their office. They could give a crap how much this costs.

      The first two people to order one will be Woods & Pelz – and they’ll probably get it comp’d.

      nothing beats good HS cameras & a little foot-rot spray on the clubhead

  15. talljohn777

    Sep 14, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    The cover photo of Nick Price is not a true GEARS session because he is not wearing a suit with optical markers (little white balls) on it nor does his club have any optical markers. The optical markers are placed all over your body at every strategic point and joint to capture all information perfectly. GEARS is an optical tracking system and without these markers the cameras and software cannot return the needed information. I have used this system and it is truly impressive. My instructor was able to clearly show me my issues and we were able to build a plan that made a great deal of sense to fix my problems. I will not bore you with how bad my positions were during my swing, but it clearly opened my eyes to what was going on in my swing and the compensations that I was needing to make due to being in those bad positions. After the three day golf academy the before and after on GEARS were dramatic. Very impressive

    • KK

      Sep 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      Of course he’s not wearing the suit. They’re trying to pull in as many arrogant, anti-intellectual, delusional golfers as possible.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 14, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      John, I’ll ask Mike about the video; he works with Nick…Spot on observations; I’ve taught for 37 years and it identifies poor body and club positions better than any I’ve seen or used.

    • Dennis clark

      Sep 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

      Here’s the answer to the Nick Price observation from Mike Neff, GEARS director.

      “If you look closely there are markers on his club

      Gears has the ability to do body and club or just the club.

      Nick price was looking for answers as to why his driving was suffering. Gears answered those questions where no other tech could. It’s an amazing story. One of the best golf days of my life”.

  16. Ron

    Sep 14, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Dennis, do you have the system?

  17. Steven

    Sep 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    This is exciting technology. I admit, I probably over analyze numbers and technical info for my golf swing. However, I think in the right hands, this is perfect. If an instructor has this info, he/she can diagnose why something is happening and focus on the pieces to fix flaws. They know what info is important and what isn’t. The info in amateur students’ hands may cause them to go crazy and not be focused on the building blocks. I can’t wait to see the list of facilities. Hopefully one around me.

  18. Deadeye

    Sep 14, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I like data but only if it produces a teachable moment. If the info can be analyzed and generate corrective actions I am all for it.

  19. TGG-Chris

    Sep 14, 2016 at 10:58 am

    As a data geek, this has me pretty excited. The question to me is how much of this extra data is actionable. Data is great if it helps you make a decision but if it’s mostly noise it’s just more of a mess that can cloud our heads when setting up for a shot.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 14, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Chris, that’s exactly the point I’m making…actionable data is working data or that which is relevant to an individual. What GEARS provides is ALL the data, much of which you may well be executing within a functional range. Its a “take what you need” kinda thing…The beauty again is MEASURED not estimated. Thx for interest.

  20. Lucky

    Sep 14, 2016 at 10:20 am

    The best coaches I’ve had were able to make technical jargon very simple and coach the same way. I don’t need to know all the dirty details.

  21. Dennis Clark

    Sep 14, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Steve Ill have that info up shortly. hold on

  22. steve s

    Sep 14, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I’m all for technology that shows what’s really happening in your swing, not what some old time golf coach THINKS is happening. What this will do(eventually) is make golf instruction more consistent, force incompetant golf coach to learn or lose students, and simplify golf for all of us.

    • steve s

      Sep 14, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Oh yeah, it would be nice if there was a listing of the 32 places in the world you could go to analyze your swing. Not here or on the GEAR’s website. Pretty lame….

  23. Ma

    Sep 14, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Finally, a potential technology that could bring the cost of trackman down to moderately out of reach, instead of, maybe when I’m 75 I could afford it, when I no longer need it.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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Opinion & Analysis

What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?

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You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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Photos of a new Callaway iron popped up in the GolfWRX Forums, and equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what exactly the new iron could be; new Apex pros, new Legacy irons, or maybe even a new X Forged? Also, the guys discuss Phil’s U.S. Open antics and apology, DJ’s driver shaft change, new Srixon drivers and utility irons, and a new Raw iron offering from Wilson. Enjoy the golf equipment packed show!

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