Trackman — the Training Tool of Choice Among Players and Coaches
A Professional Player takes a look at Trackman and the numbers behind it
No promotional consideration was provided by Trackman to either the World of Golf or our Editor, Austin Hughes.
If you consistently watch golf on TV, you will start to notice the numbers displayed on the screen after a player hits the shot. This data (or “shot data”), usually consists of:
club head speed
carry distance; and
These numbers are usually always captured with the aid of the Trackman system. At the heart of the Trackman system is a Doppler Radar system that sits behind the tee box at professional events.
When a shot is played, the Trackman uses its radar to track the flight of the ball, providing valuable data to viewers, but the Trackman is much more than a device to enhance the viewer’s experience. It is an invaluable training device for the player.
When I travel to PGA Tour sanctioned events, Trackman is an extremely popular training tool, used for event preparation. Professionals use the system to capture important data, assisting them to make changes or simply providing them with confidence, knowing the data is accurate and can be trusted. Trackman is leading the golf industry in radar data technology – at the time of writing, 84 of the top 100 players in the world, rely on it. Trackman has become a trusted resource by most professional golfers, who are using the data to generate confidence in their games.
In its early years, the Trackman company started with 20 employees or so and even though Trackman started appearing on the PGA Tour in 2006, it took a few more years to catch on. By 2010, there were still only 20-30 Tour players using them.
However, the past six years have been kind to Trackman, experiencing explosive growth. Today, more than 350 professional players carry a Trackman with them, and the company has expanded to over 120 employees. For any top player, having the Trackman technology in the bag is a necessity.
In addition to the growth among professional players, golf broadcast teams on every network have found use for the Trackman. The product enhances the viewer’s experience as well as the broadcast team's ability to discuss and analyze shots as it provides instant information such as ball speed or ball-flight apex ( or maximum height ) while the action unfolds. Further, the use of Trackman technology has grown as it is no longer used exclusively in golf, spreading to baseball, specifically to all 30 MLB ballparks and over 80 minor league parks.
Let us look at the company's newest product – the Trackman 4 . It uses dual-radar technology to more consistently and accurately capture 27 data points including both club and ball data. These range from the simplest stats such as carry yardage and club-head speed to more technical data such as smash factor and dynamic loft.
Essentially the size of a laptop computer, the Trackman device is positioned behind the golfer, capturing every single facet of the golf swing, calculating data feedback for both the player and coach. There are no attachments or extra equipment necessary for use. The device comes with a built in HD camera that can record the player's swing, which can then be played back on phones, tablets, or computers with Bluetooth connectivity, displaying the statistical information on video.
Like many sports, Golf is evolving too. Gone are the days of a professional player simply standing on the range, hitting golf balls until they ran out of daylight. The introduction and infusion of science and technology is a major catalyst in that transformation and evolution. Whereas traditional golf instruction was much more intuitive, relying on "hand me down" practices and techniques, the mapping of swing DNA is now possible, as is the quantification and comparison of "swing feel" vs "real feel". Technology empowers us by providing sufficient data over a period of time so that we can monitor swing changes as they evolve and develop.
These are just a few examples of how science and technology can unleash talent more effectively. The Trackman is at the leading edge of such technology, proving or disproving what we thought we knew about the golf swing and how to play certain shots. It has led to a complete reevaluation of the swing and the body movements needed to sequence the swing more efficiently and effectively.
Even though you may be a recreational player or a competitive amateur player, Trackman has all the tools to help you make improvements, offering club and ball tracking radar systems with the best performance enhancing software available in the golf radar industry. If you are serious about wanting to improve your swing, then look for a teaching professional that has access to the Trackman system as part of the coaching services.
Decoding the Data
Trackman can track with accuracy and precision, full trajectory shots from simple chips or pitch shots to to 400-yard drives, pinpointing the landing position with precise accuracy of less than a foot (12 inch or 35 cm) variation.
Furthermore, the Trackman system will display the shot with a 3D trajectory video play back, with 26 impact and ball flight parameters – all delivered instantly to the player. Trackman displays this information within a second on any number of Bluetooth capable device used.
So what are the data measurements provided by the Trackman system? The new system focuses on delivering the following data points to the user:
Smash Factor: The higher the smash factor the better the energy transfer. A golfer would hope to achieve a smash factor near 1.50 on driver shots. That means for a 100-mph club speed the ball speed would be 150 mph.
Spin Rate: Spin Rate is the amount of spin on the golf ball immediately after impact. Spin rate has a major influence on the height and distance of a shot. Spin rate is one of the least appreciated numbers, especially in windy conditions.
Launch Angle: Launch Angle is the angle the ball takes off at relative to the horizon. Launch angle is highly correlated to dynamic loft. ... Every golfer should be fitted to achieve the optimal balance of launch angle and spin rate based on their club speed and ball speed
Carry: Carry is the distance the ball travels through the air. The golfer can adjust for uphill and downhill shots on the course. This reason is why carry is sometimes referred to as “carry flat”.
Ball Speed: Ball Speed is the speed of the golf ball immediately after impact. Ball speed is created by club speed and impact. Bad impact such as shots hit on the toe or heel will reduce the potential ball speed. ... Gaining 1 mph of ball speed can increase your driver distance by up to 2 yards.
Club Speed: The linear speed of the club head's geometric center just prior to first contact with the golf ball.
Dynamic Loft: The vertical angle of the club face at the center point of contact between the club and ball at the time of maximum compression. Dynamic loft is the amount of loft on the club face at impact and is measured relative to the horizon.
Attack Angle: The up or down movement of the club head at the time of maximum compression. Attack angle is measured relative to the horizon. Shots hit off the ground should have a negative attack angle in order to optimize the trajectory. Golfers hitting a driver should look for positive attack angle for optimal spin rate, trajectory and maximum distance.
Club Path: Club Path is the direction the club head is moving (right or left) at impact and is measured relative to the target line. Most golfers relate this number to hitting the ball “in-to-out” or “out-to-in”.
Face Angle: Face Angle is the direction the club face is pointed (right or left) at impact and is measured relative to the target line. Most golfers refer to this as having an “open” or “closed” club face. ... To hit a straight shot, the face angle should be zero.
The "Net Benefit" of the Trackman system
In my experience as a professional player and in working in and around other professionals, I strongly believe that the single most important weapon that a golfer has in the bag is the ability to consistently hit yardages ( landing targets ) with proper trajectory and spin with every club in the bag. And for this reason, the Trackman system has been vital to players.
Knowing how far your clubs go in every possible weather condition, elevation, rough length and grass types can help shave strokes off anyone’s game. But, this knowledge is only gained with long hours on the practice range. All things equal, whereas it may have taken years for a player to gain that particular insight in the past, with the judicious use of a Trackman system, such knowledge and accurate insight can be gained in a much shorter time. When the player has the ability to play smart shot shapes, at smart targets with proper distance control, mistakes can be greatly reduced, which in itself helps reduce scores and boost player confidence.
Practising with a Trackman system can benefit you as a golfer, by providing valuable feedback with:
On course data collecting/course management
Improving scoring clubs with proper trajectory/spin
Short game performance/putting analysis
In short, golfers are improving drastically using Trackman technology to consistently collect data. Having this resource not only saves you strokes, but will help you improve your game without having to make many swing changes. So if you are serious about improving as a player, whether you just wish to enjoy more from the sport, an aspiring professional or a competitive junior player, using a Trackman type of "launch monitor" is an important tool. So find a coach that you can work with and has access to the Trackman launch monitor to assist you. Before you know it, you will start improving your scores.
Austin Hughes is a professional golfer having played in professional events over the past few seasons. He graduated from Dalton State University (Georgia) where he attended on a Golf Scholarship. He has also caddied for various professional players in tour events and qualifiers.
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