Not too long ago, I had a chance to visit the Grand Cypress Resort to play the fantastic New Course. Grand Cypress is a top notch golf facility, especially with the world class pros available at the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf. Click on the link to read my review of the Grand Cypress Resort’s New Course. After our round, we wandered over to the Academy to see Travis Kent at the TaylorMade Performance Lab. This state of the art facility performs high-tech club fitting and swing analysis for golfers of any level, from weekend hacker to PGA Tour veterans. With Camera in hand, my friend Lindsay and I let Travis take us through a fitting, and the results were eye opening.
Have you ever played the Tiger Woods video game for Playstation, Wii or another platform? Have you ever wanted to take your golf swing and digitize it like they did for Tiger’s swing? Well now you can. Using the same infrared motion capture technology as the video games and movie makers use, the master club fitters at the TaylorMade Performance Labs can create a digital representation of your golf swing. This digital “you” lets the staff fit you for the right equipment and help you fix your swing by showing you what you are doing. This technology takes video analysis to the next level by allowing you to see and manipulate your swing in near real time.
The club fitters start by suiting you up with the sensor jacket and apply sensors to your wrists, elbows, knees, feet and head. The little reflective balls all over your body are picked up by several IR cameras set up all around the room to capture your swing from all angles. Once calibrated, the club fitter has you make several swings with a special club outfitted with the same sensors. Along with a swing monitor computer to track club head and ball stats, the club fitter is able to show the golfer his swing from every angle and collect many stats about the swing. In fact, the system is so precise, figures such as swing speed and ball speed are measured to the millionth of a mile per hour. There is certainly plenty of data to digest, and it’s why we have talented professionals like Travis on hand to digest this info and recommend the proper equipment for you.
My guinea pig Lindsay made several swings and he noticed right away that his back swing was much longer than he thought. In his case he was over turning and losing power, so Travis compared his swing side by side with PGA golfer Jason Day to show how a short back swing and aggressive hip turn can produce more power. After making a few setup changes we compared the before and after swings, and he started hitting the ball more solid. On the right, you can see the new, shorter back swing with a more restricted hip turn vs. the old swing.
Golfers spend so much money playing golf every year, it blows me away that the vast majority of players play with clubs they bought off the shelf. For over a hundred years, the average golfer’s score has remained at 100. With all the advances in technology like graphite shafts, titanium club heads, longer golf balls and more training aids than you can shake a stick at, the average Joe still has trouble breaking 100!? How can this be? I think one of the issues is people aren’t playing with properly fit clubs. A guitar player doesn’t simply pick up a guitar and start playing, he tunes the guitar first or it will sound horrible and out of tune. Similarly, golfers shouldn’t simply take a club off the rack and start playing or they wont play their best. It’s hard to explain to the average golfer how much of a difference it can make to have your clubs properly fit by a qualified club fitter like Travis at the TaylorMade Performance Lab. Properly fit clubs are easier to hit solid, leading to increased distance and consistency. Lindsay’s irons and woods turned out to be well fit to his swing, but his putter was too upright, with the toe in the air at address. A toe up lie can lead to pulled putts, so we bent it a few degrees flat. Like many people, Lindsay’s wedges were off the shelf, with cheap stock shafts. It was also recommended he switch shafts to match the rest of his set.
A fitting session at the TaylorMade Performance Lab is a great way to get your equipment dialed in, but it’s also like a mini-lesson. Travis and Lindsay were able to correct a few swing flaws and see the results almost immediately, thanks to the video capture technology in the lab. He was given a folder with his complete fitting and specs for every club in the bag, and a CD that holds a viewer software to watch his digital swings at home. The data from his swings is also available, down the the 5 decimals. True, we probably don’t need to know our swing speed is exactly 102.22536 MPH, but it’s there for the tech junkies out there.
I highly recommend taking the time to have your clubs fitted, from the driver on down to the putter. A session at the TaylorMade Performance Lab is as much fun for the experience as it is for the results. Seeing your golf swing in digital form is fun, even if you don’t have textbook form. For a visual learner like me, it’s the best way to fix swing faults. At the very least, you’ll get properly fit clubs and play better without changing your swing. You can even take your fitting data and order a new set of clubs direct from Taylor Made.
Gift certificates are available for full fittings at the Orlando location. (407) 238-0577 Call now and receive 50% off the full fitting price when you order by September 30th, 2010. Fitting certificates are good from 1 year of purchase date. They made great holiday gifts! For more info and directions, click here.
I’ve added a video below that I shot of the CD that comes with your fitting to demonstrate the viewer that you’ll get to spend night after night admiring your golf swing…
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This post was originally published on November 8, 2009 and has been revised and updated