Recently, there has been quite a bit of discussion on TrackMan and technology warning golfers and teachers to be wary of TrackMan. I actually agree with some of what has been said, however, I feel as though there are quite a few misconceptions about TrackMan that are either just misunderstood or sometimes flat out “fake news.”
Here are the most common things I hear and have seen from tech or TrackMan naysayers. Inspired by fact-checking websites in the political world we all have been living in, I will grade each of these statements with five categories. TRUE, LACKING CONTEXT, IT’S COMPLICATED, MOSTLY SPIN, or FALSE.
Full disclosure, I worked for TrackMan for three years. If you think that makes me biased, you are entitled to that opinion, but I would strongly argue it only makes me more qualified to make an impartial judgement on these statements. After I left TrackMan, I had the decision just as every other teaching professional out there of what launch monitor to buy. Spoiler alert, I bought TrackMan.
No. 6: TrackMan numbers are wrong if you don’t hit the ball on the center of the face
This one is completely false and comes from a misunderstanding of the numbers. TrackMan always calculates the face angle from where you hit the ball on the face. It doesn’t matter if you hit it center, on the heel, on the toe or in the hosel. TrackMan will tell you where that spot on the face was pointed at impact.
All things constant, if you hit one shot dead center on the face and the next shot exactly the same but 1 inch towards the toe (excluding twist face here) you will get a Face Angle number of 5 degrees more open. When reading these numbers, you will see the face angle open to the path, but the ball will hook.
This is where people don’t understand the numbers and get confused. TrackMan is accurate on both numbers, but because there is gearing in this shot the gear effect overrides the face-to-path ratio in the ultimate curvature of the ball. Great news for this is that TrackMan is about to release a software update that shows where the ball was hit on the face so you can understand the gearing even easier.
No. 5: TrackMan is Measuring a Blob Hitting a Blob
Grade: MOSTLY SPIN
While this isn’t necessarily a completely false statement, it is extremely misleading. If you or I were to look at a raw radar readout from TrackMan (like the one above), we would absolutely just see some blobs — but that by no means says anything about TrackMan or the accuracy of its data.
There are very smart people and highly intelligent software that take the readout and tell us exactly what happened at impact and in the resultant ball flight. For context, I once sent a raw radar file to TrackMan HQ because I didn’t understand what was going on with some of the numbers. After looking at this file one of the TrackMan engineers asked me, “Hunter, are you using a big plastic tee on a mat about 3 inches high and 2 inches in diameter?” He was exactly right. That is what I was using, and unfortunately it caused some interference with the radar.
The TrackMan engineers could look at that “blob” and tell me the exact dimensions and shape of a plastic tee I was using without any prior knowledge. People who say TrackMan is just measuring a blob hitting a blob don’t fully understand the technology… or they have another agenda.
No. 4: TrackMan Takes Out the Feel of the Game
Grade: MOSTLY SPIN
There is no doubt that I have seen and even personally experienced times where I felt like I was trying to perfect the numbers and got wrapped up in the 28 different data points TrackMan offers. This has absolutely nothing to do with the machine, however, and everything to do with the coach or teacher.
If your teacher is using TrackMan in a way that makes you feel trapped by positions and numbers, then your coach isn’t judging you well and is not using TrackMan properly. I still haven’t heard TrackMan ever tell me or one of my students that a shot was “bad” (but maybe Amazon will join in and Alexa can tell us we all stink).
I have used TrackMan for 10 years, and the coolest thing about it is that once you understand the numbers and the relationship they create between golf swing and causality of ball flight, you can get away from being technical. It actually helps to create feel in my students because they can relate the number to a feel in their golf swing. Now that they have the information or feel based on those numbers, they realize and learn how far they have to change things in order to actually accomplish a change in ball flight.
No. 3: TrackMan Can’t See the Face
Grade: LACKING CONTEXT
Yes, TrackMan is positioned behind the ball, driver and golfer. So technically speaking, it cannot directly see the front of the club face at impact. This doesn’t mean that it cannot accurately calculate the face angle of the golf club. With the new Trackman 4, it can actually bend the radar waves around the shape of an object to more accurately calculate club face numbers.
Without getting super scientific, the easiest way to explain this is by thinking about cell phone reception. Just because you are behind a wall or underneath a building doesn’t mean you cannot get cell service. The waves bend. If you would like to learn more on this subject, click the following link: https://blog.trackmangolf.com/looking-around-corners-radar/
No. 2: TrackMan is Too Expensive
Grade: IT’S COMPLICATED
I know you’re already thinking this is a cop out answer, but I strongly believe otherwise. Because what is too expensive? Isn’t that a relative term? No, I am not saying that $16,000-$25,000 is not a lot of money, and I’m also not saying every golfer should invest in a TrackMan. What I am saying is that there is absolutely a high value in an investment in TrackMan.
If you are a teaching professional or golf course, Trackman is vital to your operation. I know of hundreds of PGA Professionals including myself who have not just paid off their TrackMan, but make more money because of it.
No. 1: TrackMan isn’t Perfect
This is absolutely true, and I have never heard anyone from TrackMan nor users who know the system ever make this statement. TrackMan has limitations as all technology does. It has made a mistake (once or twice) in the numbers. The good news is that TrackMan is and always has been the best, most accurate launch monitor on the market. This is directly due to how TrackMan is operated as a company, the tolerances it has for its products, the hundreds of employees who ensure mistakes don’t happen and the millions of dollars invested testing its own product.
TrackMan continues to push itself and the golf industry by constantly innovating and questioning its own product. So if there is a limitation, you can guarantee the engineers at TrackMan are hard at work trying to solve it.
How important is playing time in college if a player wants to turn pro?
One of the great debates among junior golfers, parents and swing coaches is what is the most crucial factor in making the college decision. My experience tells me that many students would answer this question with a variation of coaching, facilities and of course academics (especially if their parents are present).
I would agree that all three are important, but I wanted to explore the data behind what I think is an often overlooked but critical part of the process; playing time. For this article, I examined players under 25 who made the PGA tour and played college golf to see what percent of events they participated in during their college career. In total I identified 27 players and through a combination of the internet, as well as conversations with their college coaches, here are the numbers which represent my best guess of their playing time in college:
Player Percent of Events
- Justin Thomas 100%
- Rickie Folwer 100%
- Xander Schauffele 100%
- Bryson DeChambeau 100%
- Jon Rahm 100%
- Patrick Reed 91%
- Jordan Speith 100%
- Beau Hossler 100%
- Billy Horschel 100%
- Aaron Wise 100%
- Daniel Berger 100%
- Thomas Pieters 95%
- Ryan Moore 100%
- Kevin Tway 98%
- Scott Langley 95%
- Russell Hendley 100%
- Kevin Chappell 96%
- Harris English 96%
- JB Holmes 100%
- Abraham Ancer 97%
- Kramer Hicock 65%
- Adam Svensson 100%
- Sam Burns 100%
- Cameron Champ 71%
- Wydham Clark 71%
- Hank Lebioda 100%
- Sebastian Munoz 66%
Please note that further research into the numbers demonstrate that players like Pieters, Munoz, Clark, Reed, Hicock, Langely, Reed and Champ all played virtually all events for their last two years.
This data clearly demonstrates that players likely to make a quick transition (less than 3 years) from college to the PGA tour are likely to play basically all the events in college. Not only are these players getting starts in college, but they are also learning how to win; the list includes 7 individual NCAA champions (Adam Svensson, Aaron Wise, Ryan Moore and Thomas Pieters, Scott Langley, Kevin Chappell, and Bryson DeChambeau), as well 5 NCAA team champion members (Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, Beau Hossler, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer and Wydham Clack) and 2 US Amateur Champs (Bryson DeChambeau and Ryan Moore).
As you dig further into the data, you will see something unique; while there are several elite junior golfers on the list, like Speith and Thomas who played in PGA tour events as teenagers, the list also has several players who were not necessarily highly recruited. For example, Abraham Ancer played a year of junior college before spending three years at the University of Oklahoma. Likewise, Aaron Wise, Kramer Hickok and JB Holmes may have been extremely talented and skillful, but they were not necessarily top prospects coming out of high school.
Does this mean that playing time must be a consideration? No, there are for sure players who have matriculated to the PGA Tour who have either not played much in college. However, it is likely that they will make the PGA tour closer to 30 years of age. Although the difference between making the tour at 25 and 30 is only 5 years, I must speculate that the margin for failure grows exponentially as players age, making the difference mathematically extremely significant.
For junior golfers looking at the college decision, I hope this data will help them understand the key role of playing time will have in their development if they want to chase their dream of playing on the PGA Tour. As always, I invite comments about your own experience and the data in this article!
Hidden Gem of the Day: Republic Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas
These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!
Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member pdaero, who takes us to Republic Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas. The course is situated just ten minutes from downtown San Antonio, and pdaero gives us some excellent insight into what you can expect should you make the trip here.
“My favorite golf course to play, it is always in really good shape. These pictures are from wintertime, which the greenness is still impressive. The course has a ton of fun holes and unique designs, and only houses visible on 4 tee and between 14 green and 15 tee.
The course rating is strong, with a 74.2 rating on a par 71 (7007 yards from the tips), and even from the second tee you get 1.3 strokes.”
According to Republic Golf Club’s website, the rate for 18 holes during the week ranges from $29 to $49, while the weekend rate ranges from $35 to $69.
An interview with State Apparel’s founder Jason Yip
For the past five years, Jason Yip has been building an apparel company that redefines the purpose of golf wear. With a strong background in innovation from his days in Silicone Valley, Yip wanted to reinvent golf apparel to be a functional tool for the golfer.
The other day, I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Jason Yip about State Apparel and a little about himself. It is not every day that you get to speak with someone who can exude passion through the phone. On this day, though, I could hear the passion Jason has for golf, California, and for State Apparel.
Yip said State Apparel has two major foundations
- Functional innovation
- Social responsibility
Jason loved talking about watching Tiger Woods. However, he watched for something I believe few ever have. How was Tiger wiping the dew and the grass off his clubs, hands, and ball? The answer that Jason observed was that Tiger and others are utilizing their clothing as wiping surfaces. The core of State Apparel is the functionally located wiping elements on your article of clothing. The staple of the brand is their Competition Pants which have wiping elements located on the cuffs, side pockets, and rear pockets.
State Apparel recognizes the need to be socially responsible as a company. This seems to be from Jason’s earlier days of playing golf behind a truck stop in Central Valley, California.
How is the State Apparel socially responsible? Yip identified three ways.
- Production is done in San Francisco.
- Most of their apparel utilizes sustainable fabric.
- Proud supporter of the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance.
Jason’s desire is to provide not only apparel that is golf specific but also the experience that we have on the golf course. A little over a year ago the State Apparel Store and Urban Clubhouse opened on Filmore Street in San Francisco, California.
“I wanted to provide the golfing experience closer to the home of many golfers in the area,” Yip told me.
Among the State Apparel clothing at the store, there is an indoor hitting by with launch monitor. And they have even hosted speaking events with local professionals and architects at the clubhouse.
At the end of our conversation I asked Jason, what would he say to someone who knows nothing about State Apparel, especially those of us not in California?
“State Apparel is a unique authentic brand that is designed specifically for golfers by a golfer. Look at the product because it is something you have never seen and absolutely communicate on what you see or what you have questions about.”
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