Here we are... in the middle of the "lets measure everything" revolution of golf. Want to know what your optimum driver landing angle is to maximize roll out once you hit the fairway? We can measure it. Want to know how many degrees your shoulders are rotating in relation to your hips on a 5 iron shot? We can measure that too.
After a trip to the PGA show in Orlando in 2014 I knew times had changed as I was offered a twenty thousand dollar launch monitor that would track nearly every variable of a golf swing. Soon thereafter nearly every swing or putt could be tracked and measured as accurately as the science and algorithm programmed into the monitor allowed. Awesome! Right?
I love technology, gadgets, teaching aids and anything that will help students improve. I am all for it! Anything that helps quantify a students IMPROVEMENT can be a terrific aid in becoming a better more confident golfer. Here in lies the problem. The majority of this technology is being used in a way that is skewed towards teaching a golf swing. Talks of perfect "biomechanics" or "zereoing" out your numbers sounds good in theory however when your laying the sod over the ball on a chip shot how is that going to help? Did you need a 20k launch monitor to tell you that you just hit 2 inches behind the ball?
I have a concern immediately when I walk into a bay that is housing 30k worth of monitors and cameras. My first thought is that person has probably fallen trap to TEACHING A SWING. Your job is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes possible. Jim Furyk is 4th on the all time money list nearing 66 million dollars in earnings. Would you change his positions if you were teaching him to swing? Everyone immediately says... "of course not". The reality is they are lying. If they had a junior come up to them with that big loop in their swing they would immediately jump to say "if we fix that he's going to be amazing". You have to watch someone PLAY GOLF in order to know if their swing is any good. You can zero out your numbers on a launch monitor and flat out suck on the golf course... I have seen it. There is more to golf than "numbers". You better understand that.
Quick non technical point... here are three pictures of Tiger Woods. Considering he has been with 5+ swing instructors and has endured surgeries and multiple life events that everyone says completely changed him, look at these pictures:
Nearly ten years apart look at these back swing positions. Look at the club face angle. Look at the lead arm. Look at the lead knee etc... shockingly different right? Not really. I know that someone out there on tv could talk for 10 minutes about all the major differences, however when you look at the big picture does it really look much different? Nope.
If you want to be great, golf is more than just learning a SWING. Golf is about learning how to PLAY GOLF. Launch monitors can zero you out and optimize every part of our swing. Does that mean your handicap is coming down? No it does not. I can assure you of that. In fact I have seen the opposite occur. You still need to learn to hit intentional hooks, slices, high cuts, high draws, low spinners, and many more variations to be a great golfer. You don't learn that on a launch monitor.
Now the flip side is if I was being fit for a new driver I would definitely want a launch monitor. It could quickly show me the benefit of the new driver vs my old one. Fitting clubs with a launch monitor is a home run. With a very consistent high level player, assessing driver or ideal iron specs is another home run with a launch monitor. However just because a player's attack angle went from -2 to +1 with their driver does not mean their handicap will come down. There is so much more to great coaching than just technology.
Don't forget that you still have to PLAY GOLF. There are instructors that have taught for years and have never seen their students PLAY GOLF. I appreciate any instructor that can track their students handicaps improving. Most don't. They tell you how their student has a better angle of attack with their driver during their last 30 minute lesson. That's great. I'd want that too. But does that mean they're shooting lower scores? How about they quantify that? That is what you ultimately should care about. Technology is great... I don't want to play gutta percha balls or hickory shafts. Just don't forget how to improve... you must learn how to PLAY GOLF. Not just work on your "swing".
Till next time...
Your Coach For Life... Score Your Best!
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