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The 6 Biggest Myths About TrackMan

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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

Grade: FALSE

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

Grade: TRUE

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.

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PGA Member and Golf Professional at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, NC. Former PGA Tour and Regional Representative for TrackMan Golf. Graduate of Campbell University's PGM Program with 12 years of experience in the golf industry. My passion for knowledge and application of instruction in golf is what drives me everyday.

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Trevor

    Mar 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I like to add one myth: Never trust an indoor trackman.

  2. Ben Ross

    Jan 8, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Trackman 4 and the associated reporting is faaaantaastic. What a brilliant tool if you know how to use it. Once you understand he to decipher the numbers, it can validate what your eyes see or tell you that you’re misinterpreting the visuals. People will always be salty about things they don’t understand.

  3. Doug

    Mar 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    What about the health risk with the radar? I read stories about soldiers which got cancer from working with radar systems

  4. randy

    Mar 20, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Most of you people are just mad because you can’t afford it and don’t understand all the data it gives you. And if you think the distance isn’t accurate don’t tell Dustin Johnson!

  5. Myron miller

    Mar 15, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I’ve used a trackman a number of times and have yet to have the distance a drive was hit correct from trackman. And when I talked to a trackman rep at one course, he indicated that they use “pro conditions” for estimating rollout. it has given me consistently total distance in the 250-280 range with the ball actually landing 180-190 and then rolling out according to it’s internal calculations another 40-90 yards. IN real life, if i get 20 yards roll, i’m ecstatic. And i use a gps and also range finders to get actual yardage in real life so i know they’re reasonably accurate.

    Nothing in this article other than author bias that trackman is better or worse than any foresight tool or several others. The article is strictly biased that trackman is the best for everything and nothing else works as well overall. As several replies above indicate, that is not necessarily accurate by a large margin. Each is better depending upon how the person uses it and what information is being derived and used. Trackman can be beneficial and it can be harmful. It depends upon how the person using it actually uses the data. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and user really.

    It’s a good tool that can be misused and is sometimes misleading. Like any tool, one has to understand the numbers and where they come from, which are calculated, which are actual and which are useful to the task being performed at the time. If tracking the swing thru the complete swing, then trackman is mostly useless. Other tools much better, such as swingbyte. Telling what the clubhead is doing at point of impact and path of the ball flight, then Trackman is excellent.

  6. Shafted

    Mar 15, 2018 at 2:06 am

    Trackman 5 will be able to see through your shirt. They will be installing them at airports as you walk thru the barrier with your golf clubs. It is going to know how many inches your shafts are.

  7. Martin

    Mar 14, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Hallelujah!!

  8. Michael Pasquill

    Mar 14, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    My issue with trackman is that it does not take into account is the affect of wind, air temp, or humidity when a person is hitting a ball especially inside it is a vacuum when you are inside. Outside I have seen it have issues too. I would rather do the evaluation on my feel and the trajectory that I am looking for. As a slow swing person under 80 mph many of the drivers are designed for players with higher swing speeds which does not help me a bit. Its about the shaft of the club for the most part.

    • Ben

      Mar 15, 2018 at 3:33 am

      Actually it does.
      TrackMan tracks the full ball flight outdoor incl. temp, wind, humidity.. they even have a normalize feature where you can see how the data would look like if you change to no wind, another temp or elevation.

    • Pat

      Apr 1, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      False. There’s a Normalize function on Trackman to remove outside factors. You can add in temperature as well. Think of it, fitters would never be able to fit on windy days…

    • AndyK

      Apr 1, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      you’re wrong here, its why tour guys travel with them and get their carry yardages based on environment they are in while practicing.

  9. Aaatkr

    Mar 14, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    GC Quad for my money. It shows your lie angle and contact point at impact. Trackman cannot. A picture is worth a thousand words.

    • AZ

      Mar 15, 2018 at 11:03 am

      It lies to you about the angles and a wrong picture costs you thousand of explanations. Just because a system put a number or a picture out there doesn’t mean it’s (close to) accurate.

  10. Dave

    Mar 14, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    How much did Trackman pay you to say all of this, it’s clearly a sponsored article. I work in the military and can catogorically tell you radar can not see round corner and will prove it if you want me to. As you a coach you are brilliant and stick that.

    • Anthony

      Mar 14, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      “THIS” A radar beam can’t bend around corners!
      GC Quad is A much better unit for teaching and fitting and yes, I have used both as I am a custom fitter and instructor. Nice sponsored article lol….
      And about price, GC Quad is too expensive as well!

      • Hunter Brown

        Mar 15, 2018 at 8:40 am

        Hey Anthony thanks for the reply here but see below for info on how TrackMan can see around corners

        Radar waves from TrackMan DO see around the clubhead. The physics are a bit complicated, but here we go:

        The wavelength of the TrackMan radar is ½-1½ inches – this is in the same order of magnitude as the club head and golf ball. This means that the radar reflection, the so-called scattering mechanism, is in the ‘resonance region’ (see f.ex. http://www.radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Rayleigh-%20versus%20Mie-Scattering.en.html a simplified explanation of this).

        In the ‘resonant region’ the reflecting objects generates ‘creeping waves’ that wraps around the object. An electromagnetic field that impact an object, will generate a current on this object, current are ‘closed loops’ which means the current will also run on parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave. The current will then generate a new electromagnetic field (the reflected signal) which will consequently also be radiated from parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave.

        However, no matter the physical explanation the raw data from TrackMan clearly shows that we can see ‘around’ the club head. F.ex. it is clear in the radar signal from TrackMan exactly when the ball separates from the club face despite the club head occluding the ball completely.

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:46 am

      Dave thanks for reading and the comment. Unfortunately I am not paid by TM, anymore, as I stated in the article I did work for TrackMan for 3 years. Also see below for the explanation on TM seeing around corners.

      Radar waves from TrackMan DO see around the clubhead. The physics are a bit complicated, but here we go:

      The wavelength of the TrackMan radar is ½-1½ inches – this is in the same order of magnitude as the club head and golf ball. This means that the radar reflection, the so-called scattering mechanism, is in the ‘resonance region’ (see f.ex. http://www.radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Rayleigh-%20versus%20Mie-Scattering.en.html a simplified explanation of this).

      In the ‘resonant region’ the reflecting objects generates ‘creeping waves’ that wraps around the object. An electromagnetic field that impact an object, will generate a current on this object, current are ‘closed loops’ which means the current will also run on parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave. The current will then generate a new electromagnetic field (the reflected signal) which will consequently also be radiated from parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave.

      However, no matter the physical explanation the raw data from TrackMan clearly shows that we can see ‘around’ the club head. F.ex. it is clear in the radar signal from TrackMan exactly when the ball separates from the club face despite the club head occluding the ball completely.

    • AZ

      Mar 15, 2018 at 11:06 am

      I think i agree with you on that single point. The face angle is calculated based on toe and heel positions, and impact location. And buldge and roll where all brands used to have the same

  11. Coach Vitti

    Mar 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Well, nice try, but superficial. I’m a retired teaching pro and never, once, used a trackman in my sessions. First reason? Cost. I could make zero business sense out of buying or leasing a Trackman or any other expensive launch monitors. Second reason? While I know that spin rates and directions, launch angles, path and club face angles matter, they really only matter to low-handicappers, pros and salesmen!

    I never, once, had a student ask me “Hey, Coach, where’s your $25,000 launch monitor? Don’t we need the 28 ‘data’ points it provides?” Whether 28 points or 280 points, it’s not something that is going to benefit most amateurs as they struggle to get the club back to the ball!

    I’ve only used a launch monitor on my own swing during a fitting. That’s an appropriate use of the technology, even for amateurs. It gives the fitter valuable information to fit the correct clubs to your swing and nothing more.

    Besides, I can get all the information I need during a lesson from a $200 Swingbyte. That fits most pro’s budgets and get a better than 80% solution for 90% of students. Unfortunately, my season-long test of that tech failed to meet my reliability standards.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I am also a retired Systems Engineer with 20 years in Test and Evaluation. I spent several years around Doppler radar systems. So, please tell me how many ‘data points’ are actual measurements and how many are ‘calculated’? Hmmmmm….

    And how about calibration? How about the human-in-the-loop (operator)? How about software bugs?

    I also know snake oil salesmen.

    • Regis

      Mar 15, 2018 at 7:41 am

      I’m retired in a golf centric area and there are a lot of courses within 20 minutes of my home. I’ve been playing for over 50 years and have taken a lot of lessons. I will take an occasional lesson with any good pro but when it comes to a lesson package I only work with a pro that has launch monitor and video technology preferably outdoors.(I will never take an indoor lesson) Not for every lesson necessarily but integrated into the teaching. And I almost never buy a club without using a launch monitor. I appreciate the cost involved for the pro but from the students perspective that’s what I look for. It’s easily available and at least in terms of a lesson package it should be standard. Like bringing your car to a mechanic. They all have diagnostic equipment. Some have more sophisticated equipment.

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:53 am

      Coach Vitti thanks for taking the time to read and reply with your experience. I am glad you had a successful career teaching. I never stated you had to have TrackMan to be a great teacher. There have been plenty of great teachers before TrackMan and still great teachers today who do not use TrackMan like a Butch Harmon. I simply choose to use it and encourage others to use it as it makes the learning process more efficient. Also from my experience TrackMan is best suited for Amateurs not scratch golfers or tour pros. The reason I believe this is because tour pros or already have good “numbers”. That is why they strike the ball so well and play for a living. They use it mostly as you stated for club fitting, distance training, and checking in on things. Amateurs or the 5-25 handicap range can find using TrackMan very positive because it helps them understand the difference between feel and real. If you are ever in Asheville, NC and are curious about how teachers use TM please let me know! I would be happy to show you how I use it and hopefully you will see that it is positive and not detrimental to the game of golf.

  12. JustWellsy

    Mar 14, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Most people reading this are not Golf pros and for us it’s ridiculously expensive. It would be expensive for most of us at $2,000. You are not considering the little guy at all.

    This article was mostly a waste of time other than the very first point, which is informative for a lot of folks. Plus, one of the “myths” was true! Haha. Honestly, this article feels to me like you had a couple good points in your mind and had to manufacture additional content in order to make an article out of it.

    You are not outwardly bias, but you do have an “entrenchment” bias that is subconscious. I would bet that if you worked for foresight you would have bought a GC Quad. It’s easy for you to refute that by simply saying no, but think of what you’d know about the inner workings of that machine vs trackman and having never worked for them.

    I get the intent and appreciate your work as a teaching pro, but for me you missed the mark for your likely target audience. Consider this like a movie review where I express my opinion and my opinion only. Thanks.

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting your thoughts. I agree with some and think I could have included a little more for the average amateur. What I would suggest here instead of recommending another price point launch monitor is to encourage your pro at your club to look into getting TrackMan or find someone in your area who has and uses TM for teaching and fitting. Also to your point about Foresight, you can definitely make the argument that I have entrenchment but I don’t think that makes this article invaluable. The point of the article was to dispel the misconceptions people make about TrackMan it had nothing to do with other launch monitors. Also honestly I never would have gone to work for Foresight and that is not a bash on them. I worked at 2 clubs before I worked at TrackMan and had the opportunity to recommend a launch monitor purchase. We looked at several and decided on TrackMan because it was the best then and is the best now.

  13. Leonard

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Excellent piece. Well thought out and explained!

  14. Frank Xavier

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Definitely an interesting analysis and description. It could have been more insightful with some comparative observations to more economic solutions like Skytrak which according to their side by side produces very close results to Trackman for a fraction of the cost.

  15. Tim S

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I think TrackMan is in invaluable tool. You can stand on the range and hit different drivers and watch them go, but the info you need really isn’t there without something measuring it. Spin and launch angle are hugely important in distance, and TrackMan gives you that info.

    TrackMan can help you select a club. It’s up to you to dial it in.

  16. Blake

    Mar 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I wish he would have addressed indoor data performance and touched on the comparison to Flightscope. Regardless of that, good article and information.

    • Gregs

      Mar 14, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Trackman is not great for indoor use for the driver or most clubs that gear effect is more prominent, since trackman can not follow the ball after it hits the screen. Hitting it on the toe comes up as a block even though it would gear back to center if not left of center. Foresight GCQuad is the best for indoor use and indoor fitting as it’s picks up strike zone and it will pick up gear effect. Outside trackman actually follows the ball so it takes in to account gear effect through tracking the actual ball throughout its flight. Trackman wins in the outside environment.

      • Judge

        Mar 14, 2018 at 6:45 pm

        My guess is that the whole indoor debate will change very soon. Just like TrackMan how couldn’t measure impact location or dynamic lie.. Their track record speaks for itself!

      • RJ

        Apr 3, 2018 at 1:08 am

        Thumbs up on your comments…. I use both in different fashions and can boast about features and benefits for both. To each his own based on his / her finances..

  17. MIKEYP

    Mar 14, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I got a trackman and went to a secluded range with a pro and hit several shots. The pro went out into the range and put stakes in ground were the ball landed and were it finished. The trackman said the balls were landing at certain distances and then gave a total distance number. The distances were ALL 4+ yards off from were the ball actually landed and finished. I trust the spin, launch angle and other recorded data is reasonably accurate but the yardages were off every time. Might be the air density, ball, contact etc but the Trackman told a different story than the actual distance.

    • John

      Mar 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      Hey Dummy…. It isn’t going to get roll out right every time.

      • Coach Vitti

        Mar 15, 2018 at 10:15 pm

        I think I’m the only guy in Texas who can back up a drive! Trackman can’t calculate that!

    • larrybud

      Mar 14, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      What did you measure the stakes with and how do you know that was accurate?? Did they read long or short? Was this your trackman or the pros? Are you guys certified?

      • MIKEYP

        Mar 15, 2018 at 10:28 am

        Chris Moody is the certified pro. We were at a private range at a country club. Some of the shots came up short and some long. He would go to were the ball landed (he’s dangerously standing down range and would go to where the ball hit) and put a stake in the ground. Then went out to where the ball settled and put another stake. We then compared trackman and the distance was off every time. We were simply testing the accuracy of the distance. And yes John, I am a dummy.

        • Swing Dr

          Jan 15, 2019 at 8:45 pm

          You weren’t using carry flat distance with your poles out in the range. The ground was slightly uphill or slightly downhill from the tee. Carry distance is given to the same elevation as contact.

  18. raynorfan1

    Mar 14, 2018 at 11:43 am

    “If you are a teaching professional or golf course, Trackman is vital to your operation.”

    How is Trackman “vital” to the operation of a golf course?

    Teaching professional, I get. Club fitter, I get. Pro shop, I get.

    Golf course?

    • Andrew Cooper

      Mar 14, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      “Vital to your operation…”? I’m sure there are plenty of pros and facilities managing ok with their Flightscopes and GC2 Quads.

      • Hunter Brown

        Mar 15, 2018 at 8:44 am

        Andrew I do not disagree with that my main point was that information is vital and I choose TrackMan because it is the best information out there. However my intent was not to turn this into a TrackMan vs conversation just to explain the misconceptions people have

  19. larrybud

    Mar 14, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Hunter, I’m sorry but this is NOT accurate:

    “it can actually bend the radar waves around the shape of an object”

    No, it CANT actually bend the radar waves, and the link you referenced give a simplified description of how it works, but radar does NOT “bend”. In fact, the link talks about cell phone signals bend through walls, but that’s not accurate either. They go THROUGH them because of the wavelength. See this link for more info:

    http://www.physlink.com/Education/AskExperts/ae175.cfm

    Radar is just radio waves, which is a high frequency light wave. Light does not “bend” (* yes, high gravitational objects such as planets/stars/black holes bend space, and thus light does bend around them, but that’s not what we’re talking about here!).

    I think it’s important to be accurate in such articles, especially if your goal is to expel myths!

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 14, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Larry thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I may have used a slightly misleading word in “bend” I was simply trying to explain the general idea without getting super scientific as I am not qualified to have that kind of conversation. I am just a golf pro! I understand your point though

    • Hunter Brown

      Mar 15, 2018 at 8:42 am

      Larry here is some follow up info on your question

      adar waves from TrackMan DO see around the clubhead. The physics are a bit complicated, but here we go:

      The wavelength of the TrackMan radar is ½-1½ inches – this is in the same order of magnitude as the club head and golf ball. This means that the radar reflection, the so-called scattering mechanism, is in the ‘resonance region’ (see f.ex. http://www.radartutorial.eu/01.basics/Rayleigh-%20versus%20Mie-Scattering.en.html a simplified explanation of this).

      In the ‘resonant region’ the reflecting objects generates ‘creeping waves’ that wraps around the object. An electromagnetic field that impact an object, will generate a current on this object, current are ‘closed loops’ which means the current will also run on parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave. The current will then generate a new electromagnetic field (the reflected signal) which will consequently also be radiated from parts of the object that is not facing the incident electromagnetic wave.

      However, no matter the physical explanation the raw data from TrackMan clearly shows that we can see ‘around’ the club head. F.ex. it is clear in the radar signal from TrackMan exactly when the ball separates from the club face despite the club head occluding the ball completely.

  20. Patrucknorm

    Mar 14, 2018 at 10:44 am

    If I were a pro golfer or a golf pro that teaches, I would invest in one these as a tool. As an amateur I’ve seen my numbers and they are helpful. But it’s a tool not an aid. It’s great for actual yardages and quantifying your swing efficiency. I still believe golf is a game of nuances/ feel. But frankly, I’d rather be playing than hitting balls indoors.

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Opinion & Analysis

When the data says line is more important than speed in putting

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In my recent article, Line vs. speed: What’s really more important in putting?, I pointed out that in my 30-plus years of studying putting performance, I’ve learned that there are two important skills to putting:

  1. Direction (line)
  2. Distance control (speed)

There’s no question that golfers need to possess both these skills, but contrary to popular belief, they are not equally important on all putts. Sometimes, speed should be the primary concern. In other situations, golfers should be focused almost entirely on line. To make this determination, we have to consider the distance range of a putt and a golfer’s putting skill.

In the above referenced article, I showed how important speed is in putting, as well as the distances from which golfers of each handicap level should become more focused on speed. As promised, I’m going to provide some tips on direction (LINE) for golfers of different handicap levels based on the data I’ve gathered over the years through my Strokes Gained analysis software, Shot by Shot.

When PGA Tour players focus on line 

On the PGA Tour, line is more critical than speed from distances inside 20 feet. Obviously, the closer a golfer is to the hole, the more important line becomes and the less need there is to focus on speed. Further, I have found that the six-to-10-foot range is a key distance for Tour players. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Six to 10 feet is one of the most frequently faced putt distances on the PGA Tour. It is the first putt distance on approximately one in every five greens.
  2. Smack in the middle of this range is eight feet, which is the distance from which the average PGA Tour player makes 50 percent of his putts.
  3. In my research, I have consistently found that one-putt success in the six-to-10-foot range separates good putters from the rest on the PGA Tour

What we should do

How does this analysis help the rest of us?  To answer that question, we must first know our one-putt distance.  Just as I showed the two-putt distance by handicap level here, I will now show the 50 percent make distance by handicap level. This is the distance from the hole where players at each handicap level make 50 percent of their putts.

My recommendation is for each of us to recognize exactly what our 50 percent distance is. Maybe you’re a 16 or 17 handicap and putting is one of your strengths. Your 50 percent make distance is six feet. Excellent!  From that distance and closer, you should focus on line and always give the ball a chance to go in the hole.  From distances of seven-plus feet, you should consider the circumstances (up or downhill, amount of break, etc.) and factor in the speed as appropriate. The goal is to make as many of these putts as possible, but more importantly, avoid those heart-breaking and costly three-putts.

For added perspective, I am including the percentage of one putts by distance for the PGA Tour and our average amateur 15-19 handicap. I’m able to offer this data from ShotbyShot.com because it provides golfers with their “relative handicap” in the five critical parts of the game: (1) Driving, (2) Approach Shots, (3) Chip/Pitch Shots, (4) Sand Shots, and (5) Putting.

Line control practice: The star drill 

Looking for a way to practice choosing better lines on the putting green?  Here’s a great exercise known as the “star drill.” Start by selecting a part of your practice green with a slight slope.  Place five tees in the shape of a star on the slope with the top of the star on the top side of the slope.  This will provide an equal share of right to left and left to right breaks.

I recommend starting with a distance of three feet – usually about the length of a standard putter.  See how many you can make out of 10 putts, which is two trips around the star.  Here are a few more helpful tips.

  • Place a ball next to each of the five tees.
  • Use your full pre-shot routine for each attempt.
  • Stay at the three-foot distance until you can make nine of 10. Then, move to four feet, five feet, and six feet as you’re able to make eight from four feet, seven from five feet, and six from six feet.

This drill will give you confidence over these very important short putts. I do not recommend using it for any distance beyond six feet. It’s harder than you think to get there!

 

Exclusive for GolfWRX members: For a free, one-round trial of Shot by Shot, visit www.ShotByShot.com.

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Podcasts

TG2: Snell Golf founder Dean Snell talks golf balls and his life in the golf industry

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Snell Golf’s founder, Dean Snell, talks all about golf balls and his adventure through the industry. Dean fills us in on his transition from hockey player, to engineer, to golfer, and now business owner. He even tells you why he probably isn’t welcome back at a country club ever again.

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

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Opinion & Analysis

Could Dollar Driver Club change the way we think about owning equipment?

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There’s something about golfers that draws the attention of, for lack of a better word, snake-oil salesmen. Whether it’s an as-seen-on-TV ad for a driver that promises pure distance and also fixes your power slice, or the subscription boxes that supposedly send hundreds of dollars worth of apparel for a fraction of the price, there always seems to be something out there that looks too good to be true.

Discerning golfers, who I would argue are more cynical than anything, understand that you get what you pay for. To get the newest driver that also works for your game, it may take a $150 club fitting, then a $400 head, and a shaft that can run anywhere from $100 up to $300-$400. After the fitting and buying process, you’ve made close to a thousand dollar investment in one golf club, and unless you’re playing money games with friends who have some deep pockets, it’s tough to say what the return on that investment actually is. When it’s all said and done, you have less than a year before that driver is considered old news by the standard of most manufacturers’ release schedules.

What makes a driver ‘good’ to most amateur golfers who take their game seriously is a cross section of performance, price, and hubris. As for that last metric, I think most people would be lying if they say it doesn’t feel good having the latest and greatest club in the bag. Being the envy of your group is fun, even if it only lasts until you snap hook your first drive out of bounds.

As prices of general release equipment have increased to nearly double what it was retailing at only 10 years ago, the ability to play the newest equipment is starting to become out of the question for many amateur golfers.

Enter Tyler Mycoskie, an avid, single digit handicap golfer (and the brother of Tom’s shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie). Tyler’s experience with purchasing golf equipment and his understanding of uniquely successful business models collided, which led him to start the Dollar Driver Club. With a name and logo that is a tongue in cheek allusion to the company that has shaken up the men’s skincare industry, the company seeks to offer a new way of thinking about purchasing golf equipment without completely reinventing the wheel of the model that has seen success in industries such as car leasing and purchasing razors.

The company does exactly what its name says. They offer the newest, top of the line driver and shaft combinations for lease at a cost of about a dollar per day.

The economics of the model seem too good to be true. When you purchase a driver, you are charged $30 plus $11 for shipping and it’s $30 per month from then on. You can upgrade your driver at no extra cost each year and your driver is eligible for upgrade or swap after 90 days of being a member. After a year, the total cost comes to $371 with shipping, which sounds a lot nicer than the $500 that it would cost to purchase, as an example, a Titleist TS3 with a Project X Evenflow T1100 today.

The major complaint most people would have is that you still don’t own the driver after that year, but as someone with a closet full of old golf clubs that diminish in value every day, which I have no realistic plans to sell, that doesn’t sound like a problem to me or my wife, who asks me almost weekly when I plan on thinning out my collection.

The model sounds like an obvious win for customers to me, and quite frankly, if you’re skeptical, then it’s probably just simply not for you. I contacted the team at the Dollar Driver Club to get some questions answered. Primarily, I want to know, what’s the catch?

I spoke with a Kevin Kirakossian, a Division I golfer who graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2013 and has spent virtually his entire young career working on the business side of golf, most recently with Nike Golf’s marketing team prior to joining Tyler at Dollar Driver Club. Here’s what he had to say about his company.

At risk to the detriment of our conversation, I have to find out first and foremost, what’s the catch?

K: There’s no catch. We’re all golfers and we want to offer a service that benefits all of our members. We got tired of the upfront cost of drivers. We’re trying to grow the game. Prior to us, there was no way to buy new golf clubs without paying full price. We take a lot of pride that players of all skill level, not just tour pros or people with the extra budget to drop that kind of money every year, can have access to the latest equipment.

With that question out of the way, I delved into the specifics of the brand and model, but I maintained a skeptical edge, keeping an ear out for anything that I could find that would seem too good to be true.

How closely do you keep an eye on manufacturers and their pricing? It would seem that your service is more enticing as prices increase in equipment.

K: The manufacturers are free to create their own pricing. We work closely with manufacturers and have a great relationship with them. As prices increase, it helps us, even if they decrease, I still think it’s a no-brainer to use our service, purely for the fact that new equipment comes out every year. You don’t have a high upfront cost. You’re not stuck with the same driver for a year. It gives you flexibility and freedom to play the newest driver. If a manufacturer wants to get into the same business, we have the advantage of offering all brands. We’re a premium subscription brand, so we’re willing to offer services that other retailers aren’t. We’ll do shaft swaps, we’ll send heads only, we have fast shipping and delivery times. We’re really a one-stop shop for all brands.

What measures do you take to offer the most up to date equipment?

K: We will always have the newest products on the actual launch date. We take pride in offering the equipment right away. A lot of times, our members will receive their clubs on release day. We order direct from the manufacturers and keep inventory. There’s no drop shipping. We prefer shipping ourselves and being able to add a personal package.

The service is uniquely personal. Their drivers come with a ball marker stamped with your initials as well as a stylish valuables pouch. They also provide a hand signed welcome letter and some stickers.

Who makes up the team at Dollar Driver Club?

K: We’re a small team. We started accepting members to our service in 2018 and it has grown exponentially. We have four or five guys here and it’s all hands on deck. We handle customer inquiries and sending drivers out. It’s a small business nature that we want to grow a lot bigger.

When discussing the company, you have to concede that the model doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially traditionalists. There are golfers who have absolutely no problem spending whatever retailers are charging for their newest wares. There are also golfers who have no problem playing equipment with grips that haven’t been changed in years, much less worrying about buying new equipment. I wanted to know exactly who they’re targeting.

Who is your target demographic?

K: We want all golfers. We want any golfer with any income, any skill level, to be able to play the newest equipment. We want to reshape the way people think about obtaining golf equipment. We’re starting with drivers, but we’re looking into expanding into putters, wedges, and other woods. We’ve heard manufacturers keep an eye on us. There are going to be people who just want to pay that upfront cost so they can own it, but those people may be looking at it on the surface and they don’t see the other benefits. We’re also a service that offers shaft swaps and easily send in your driver after 3 months if you don’t like it.

At this point, it didn’t seem like my quest to find any drawbacks to the service was going well. However, any good business identifies threats to their model and I was really only able to think of one. They do require a photo ID to start your account, but there’s no credit check required like you may see from other ‘buy now, pay later’ programs. That sounds ripe for schemers that we see all the time on websites like eBay and Craigslist.

When you’re sending out a $500 piece of equipment and only taking $41 up front, you’re assuming some risk. How much do you rely on the integrity of golfers who use your service to keep everything running smoothly?

K: We do rely on the integrity of the golf community. When we send out a driver, we believe it’s going into the hands of a golfer. By collecting the ID, we have measures on our end that we can use in the event that the driver goes missing or an account goes delinquent, but we’re always going to side with our members.

The conversation I had with Kevin really opened my eyes to the fact that Dollar Driver Club is exactly what the company says it is. They want to grow and become a staple means of obtaining golf equipment in the current and future market. Kevin was very transparent that the idea is simple, they’re just the ones actually executing it. He acknowledged the importance of social media and how they will harness the power of applications like Instagram to reach new audiences.

Kevin was also adamant that even if you prefer owning your own driver and don’t mind the upfront cost, the flexibility to customize your driver cheaply with a plethora of high-quality shafts is what really makes it worth trying out their service. If for whatever reason, you don’t like their service, you can cancel the subscription and return the driver after 90 days, which means that you can play the newest driver for three months at a cost of $90.

In my personal opinion, I think there’s a huge growth opportunity for a service like this. The idea of playing the newest equipment and being able to tinker with it pretty much at-will really speaks to me. If you’re willing to spend $15 a month on Netflix to re-watch The Office for the 12th time in a row or $35 a month for a Barkbox subscription for your dog, it may be worth doing something nice for your golf bag.

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