If you are an avid golfer, chances are you have either seen or heard of TrackMan, the electronic marvel that uses radar to track virtually everything imaginable about your swing.
TrackMan records spin rate, launch angle, carry, ball speed, club speed, dynamic loft, attack angle, club path, face angle, and something called smash factor. Smash factor sounds more impressive than it really is, which is merely ball speed divided by club speed.
Regardless, this is an impressive and confounding array of attributes to track. You would need a trained instructor to make sense of all that data. Indeed, you might never encounter a TrackMan in the real world without making a visit to a high-end training facility.
The reason for that is not just the complexity of the device but also the price tag. The latest version of TrackMan comes in at nearly $20,000 U.S.
The good news is you don’t need to take out a loan in order to analyse your own swing. First, let’s take a look at some electronic swing trackers that lack the completeness of TrackMan but still give you feedback to improve your swing. And they do so at the fraction of the cost.
Following that, we will take a deeper look at how you can analyse your swing with a device many of us already own.
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This is a quite affordable swing analyser that is meant to be used at home, either hitting into a net indoors or in your back yard.
The device snaps onto shaft of the club itself. You need to pause a bit at address before swinging to allow the device to sync properly. Then swing away and get immediate feedback.
This tracker gives you the numbers on club speed, ball speed, swing path, distance, and launch angle. And, yes, it also tracks smash factor.
Zepp Golf 2
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This one attaches not to your club but to your glove. Like others, it tracks the aspects of your swing but then goes further. Instead of leaving you to figure out your swing flaws, it makes recommendations based on your swing. Included are training programs based on the data tracked.
This is a more personalized swing analyser, and comes with an affordable price.
Voice Caddy SC 200
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This offering differs in that is it a launch monitor and not just a swing analyzer. It still gives you plenty of information, as this is more like the poor man’s TrackMan.
It uses radar data to record your swing data, with the bonus of a voice output to tell you what just happened in your swing.
It has its own stand and you position it behind you while practicing. About the size of a smart phone, it can even be used on course, if necessary.
It even comes with a remote control.
In addition to these devices, you can download apps from a smart phone that will perform some of the same duties as these devices. Chances are, those apps will have a high variance in performance.
But your smart phone does have a built-in device that can be a huge help in analyzing your swing: a camera.
Smart-phone cameras have gotten so good that they are perfectly adaptable for use in filming your swing. You will need a tripod of some sort to set up the camera.
You won’t get the same data you get from a dedicated device but there is a lot to be learned from watching yourself swing.
If you have never watched yourself swing on film, you might be surprised at what you see. This video evidence can disavow of you beliefs you have about your swing. You may think your backswing is perfectly parallel to the ground at its zenith, but here you have proof.
You will want to record your swing from two different vantage points: from in front and from behind. Once you have recorded a number of swings, it is time for analysis. Here are some things to look for.
The grip is among the most important aspects of your swing to get right, and often among the most overlooked. While you can get a good look at your grip without the need for a camera, a look from a different angle is helpful.
Unless you find a glaring need or you are having success otherwise, golfers should stick with a neutral grip. That means you should be able to see no more than two knuckles on each hand with your thumbs pointing straight down the shaft, or very nearly so.
Having a view from behind looking at the shot line is a big help in determining if you are lined up correctly.
If you do everything else correct but have poor alignment, the results will be poor. You should find a point between your target and the ball that is 10 feet or so in front of the ball. This is easier to aim at than some far-off target. Try to find some kind of leaf or twig or something else on the ground to use as an aiming point.
If you have trouble lining up correctly, a view from behind should make that clear.
How do you determine what is the proper posture in golf? There is a three-step process that can help.
First, hold the club directly in front of you with the butt end of the club pointing out from your belly button. Second, bend at the hips while keeping your back straight and lower the club the ground. Lastly, bend your knees slightly.
Doing this will help you determine how far from the ball you should stand. A few from both camera angles will help you get your posture correct.
You may have heard that the ball position in your stance should move further back with the shorter clubs, such as wedges. A driver might see you playing the ball from just inside your front foot. For a sand wedge, you might have the ball in the center of your stance or even slightly behind that.
No question many golfers have had, and continue to have, success with this strategy.
But Sean Foley, one of the best instructors in the game today, advises a different strategy. You might find it easier to pull off with more consistency. Foley believes you should play the ball in the same place in relation to your front foot on all shots.
For shots with longer clubs, he says you should not move the ball position but widen your stance.
Whichever method you choose, the view from in front of you will tell the tale.
Your golf swing, whether slow or fast, should be like a metronome. Straight back and through will little to no hesitation at the transition point.
You might have seen touring pro Hideki Matsuyama swing with a dramatic pause at the top. Matsuyama is among the best ball strikers on the planet, but yet copying his swing is not advisable. He is a pro and you are not. It should also be noted that Matsuyama has recently begun trying to eliminate the pause.
You can do the same with a great view from in front of you.
One of the more difficult items to feel is when you swing past parallel on your backswing. Often times, a swing that stops at parallel can sometimes feel to you as if it is falling far short of that.
A view from a camera positioned in front of you is an excellent way to tell you the truth. A swing that goes beyond parallel can make it more difficult to hit the ball consistently. This is one of the simpler fixes in your swing.
Jack Nicklaus has the best record of any professional golfer and is widely acclaimed as the greatest player the sport has even seen. So when Nicklaus speaks on a subject, it carries plenty of weight.
Nicklaus famously has long told the story about how his teacher would literally hold his head still while the young Nicklaus would hit practice shots.
You will sometimes see golfers have success with a small amount of head movement back and forth, but rarely up and down. Excessive head movement is easily detected with a camera view from in front of you. Failure to get this correct will make it difficult to hit the ball with consistent contact.
Move your head up and down in the swing will result in a lot of both fat and thin shots.
As you can see, there are a number of different areas that filming yourself can help with in your golf swing. One thing to note is to not try to fix all your problems at once.
Fine one problem to fix, work on it until you get it right, then move on to the next issue.