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Category: Training Aids

August 27, 2013

Tech Watch: SwingSmart swing analyzer

Posted at 1:02 PM by Mark Dee

Swingsmart_300If you tuned into this year's PGA Championship pre- and post-games on CBS Sports Network, you may be wondering what bit of digital wizardry they were using to analyze Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley and Zach Johnson's swings on the range.

Well, that's something you can do on your own range (minus the television audience). The product is called the SwingSmart, a sensor that attaches to your club and maps your swing via a free app.

Here's how it works: Take the adaptor plate, and strap it below the grip. Then, take the second piece -- the sensor itself -- and clip it on. In all, the apparatus weighs 17 grams, and since it is banded (as opposed to clamped) to the club, the SwingSmart claims not to deaden the feel of your shaft. Next: Open the app on your iPhone, Android, or tablet, select the club you are about to use from your customizable "digital bag," and go. The sensor self-calibrates to determine the "zero-point" in your swing, so you don't have to be dead still to start, or hit any more buttons. In a couple of seconds, via a proprietary BlueTooth module, your swing pops up on your screen in a swipe-able, 3-D view.

So what's it actually recording? Swing path, for one. The sensor extrapolates that data it receives under the grip to determine where the club head is, and then traces your swing in 3-D. (Note: The body you see in this mode is just a placeholder; since there is no sensor on your body, SwingSmart can't tell what's going on there.) It also gets you four "key" stats, as determined by instructor/spokesman/product consultant Peter Kostis: club head speed, face angle, tempo (the ration of backswing to downswing), and "attack angle," which is actually the angle your shaft is leaning at impact.

In the app, Kostis himself will tell you what those numbers mean, as well as provide pre-recorded instructional videos to help you use the data SwingSmart collects. According to the company, that data is within a 2-3% margin of error, measured against TrackMan and FlightScope.

SwingSmart works for every club in the bag, down to your putter, and can be used with or without a ball. It also lets you save data on your good swings -- you know, to remember them by -- and has a split-screen function to compare two moves and track improvement (hopefully).

All in, SwingSmart costs $249 and comes with one sensor, and two adaptor plates

(Photos: Courtesy of SwingSmart)

June 14, 2011

iPING app helps you find your perfect putter

Posted at 11:57 AM by David Dusek

IPING_iPod_400x500 BETHESDA, Md. — It can be easier to find a needle in a haystack than the perfect putter at a pro shop, but Ping’s new app for the Apple iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod is working to change that.

The iPING App, which will be available to download free on iTunes starting June 20, utilizes the accelerometers and gyroscopes found in Apple's devices to measure your putting stroke's path, your tempo and the face angle of your putter at impact.

The app works in conjunction with a specially designed PING cradle ($30, sold through golf retailer’s websites) that clips an iPhone or iPod onto your putter shaft. Once your device is attached, iPING measures how much your putter rotates during the forward portion of your stroke, and then categorizes your swing into one of three types: Straight, Slight Arc or Strong Arc.

Ping's research shows that players who create little or no rotation of the putter swinging forward (Straight) benefit most from face-balanced putters, while toe-down putters are most effective for players who rotate the face a lot (Strong Arc). Golfers classified as having a Slight Arc get the most benefit from putters that are balanced in between. Later this summer, Ping putters will feature shaft labels of Straight, Slight Arc and Strong Arc to help you match your putter to your stroke type.

So instead of spending hours trying all the different putters in the shop, the iPING app will help you hone in on the putters that will enhance your stroke.

Once you find the putter of your dreams, iPING can be set to one of three modes—Measure, Practice or Compare—to help you improve.

In Measure mode, the software captures your putter-head rotation, face angle at impact, and tempo, then stores it and gives you a Putting Handicap based on the consistency of your stroke. With time and practice, your Putting Handicap should go down.

In Practice mode, only one of the three stats is measured so you can concentrate on improving that part of your putting.

Compare mode lets you see how your stats match up against your friends or Ping staff players like Lee Westwood, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson. You can also share your results on Facebook and Twitter.

At the end of the day, the iPING app and cradle are not going to tell you exactly which putter to buy, but they certainly can help you narrow your choices. It's also an affordable, easy-to-use training aid that should appeal to anyone looking to roll the rock just a little more consistently.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Ping gear and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

February 17, 2010

Oliver Wilson's Balancing Act

Posted at 11:36 AM by David Dusek

I don't write a lot about training aids and devices in The Shop blog. Honestly, there are so many gadgets and gizmos out there—some are clever and helpful, others are junk—I can't keep up. But this morning, as he was preparing for his Wednesday morning match against Miguel Angel Jimenez, England's Oliver Wilson broke out a unique training aid that caught my attention.

With golf gloves tucked under each arm, he hit a series of pitch shots and wedge shots while standing on a Pro Stance, an inflatable tube designed to help golfers improve their balance. Here's a video that explains how it works.


Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter

(Photo by David Dusek)

August 27, 2009

Vijay Singh Turning to Training Aids to Improve Putting

Posted at 6:53 PM by David Dusek

Vijay Singh Putting Ruler JERSEY CITY, N.J. — When Vijay Singh was paired in the final group with Tiger Woods Saturday at Hazeltine, his putting, specifically his short putting, proved to be his downfall. The Fijian missed several critical putts and fell from contention.

On Wednesday at Liberty National, Singh, using his traditional-length Never Compromise Milled Series 1 putter, hit several putts along a metal yardstick. He was not aiming at a hole, but instead trying to make the ball smoothly roll down the 1-inch wide, 3-foot-long stick. When he was successful, Singh knew that his putter's face was square at impact. (Click on the top image for a better look.)

A short time before, Sean Vijay Singh Putting StickO'Hair had shown Singh a training aid, a Putting Stick, that is designed to help players practice the same drill. O'Hair's caddie, Paul Tesori (who used to be on Singh's bag), told me that O'Hair had recently started using the devise because he'd had good results with it as a junior. (Honestly, it's a 46-inch piece of 3/8-inch thick Plexiglas.)

Chad Reynolds, Singh's caddie, borrowed the devise after Singh had putted on the yardstick for about 10 minutes. The winner of last season's Barclay's Championship seemed to like it. (Click on the lower images for a better look.)

If Singh is going to successfully defend his Barclays crown, as well as his FedEx Cup title, he may need to log some serious hours with these training aides.

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(Photos by David Dusek)

October 30, 2008

True Ympact helps golfers at all levels hit the ball straighter

Posted at 2:21 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Let's admit two undeniable truths. One, men love gadgets. We just do. Maybe it's the James Bond effect, I don't know. But if it's a gadget, and it's new, we want it. Two, we want to buy a better golf game. Lessons and practice require patience, but if we can take a technology-aided shortcut with a club that adds 15 yards off the tee or holes more putts, our only question is, Visa or American Express?

Golf is awash in gadgets, especially swing aids. Some are junk, some aren't. I found a new one that I think is worth talking about. It's called True Ympact (pronounced impact, just spelled uniquely), and this is what I consider the ultimate compliment for a golf training aid -- it's as useful for good players as it is for beginners or high-handicappers. That is a rarity.

Ympact_300 The True Ympact is relatively simple. You slip two straps onto your left arm (lefties can adjust it for use, too). The straps are attached to a metal brace, which is in turn attached to an arm that clamps your club in place. In effect, your arm becomes an extension of the club with a brace located just above the outside of the wrist. Basically, you're strapped down and forced to rotate the club and release it during the swing.

Joe Boros, the head pro at Treesdale Golf & Country Club here in Pittsburgh's North Hills, turned me onto this gimmick. He discovered it at the PGA Merchandise Show last January. It was being marketed as a chipping and putting aid. "I've got some members who yip their chips, so I'm always looking for something to help with their feel," Boros said.

The True Ympact didn't get into production until late summer. When he finally got his first samples, Boros learned it could be used to make full swings, too, which makes it invaluable for teaching.

"If it was just a chipping tool, it would still be awesome but being able to hit driver or 6-iron with it makes it that much more useful," Boros said. "Most people have never felt the club rotate properly. I put this on students and they're able to find a position they weren't able to find before."

The local high school golf team was practicing on Treesdale's range this fall when Boros brought out the device. "The coach was trying to help one kid who was blocking every shot to the right," Boros said. "I showed him how to release the golf club but he's still having a difficult time. I put the True Ympact on him. The first one he hit, he blocked it only a little. I showed him the rotating motion we wanted. All of a sudden on the next one, his ball goes from 30 degrees right to right down the line with a little draw. The coach said it was the first straight ball he'd ever hit."

I found the device beneficial on medium length pitches, the 20- to 40-yard shots that I'm not consistent at. With the device on, my club stays on the target line better during my backswing. What was my backswing doing before? I don't know, but it couldn't have been good.

There is one curious moment that proves the True Ympact does something. Hit a dozen shots with it on, then remove it and get ready to hit another ball. Your hands act as if they're magnetically charged, moving on their own back into the same position as when the device was on. They feel momentarily out of your control. It's eerie. "It's a wow moment," Boros said. "It must have something to do with how much pressure you're putting against the brace as you're swinging through. Your hands want to go one way, maybe, and it's not letting you, I'm not sure."

Well, it's a gadget and it works. What else do you really need to know?

(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

December 17, 2007

An EEZ Way to Read Putts

Posted at 5:47 PM by

Ezzread_300x300Putting is not complicated. The ball is resting on the green, you look at where it is in relation to the hole and hit it so the ball rolls in. Easy.

Sure. Tell that to someone who just three-jacked from 10 feet.

The EEZ-Read (pronounced easy read) is a simple device designed to help players develop a better sense of break and slope on greens. A simple level mounted on a stainless steel disk, it rests on the ground to show which way the green tilts. When the bubble floats toward the 12 o'clock position, the putt is uphill, 6 o'clock means downhill, 3 o'clock means it breaks from right to left and 9 o'cock means left to right.

By rule, you cannot use the EEZ-Read during play, but Momentus--maker of the EEZ-Read--says golfers who practice using the device will become better at reading greens and more confident when putting.

Is it worth paying $14.95 for a silver-dollar-sized disk with a level on it? Maybe. Even if it doesn't help your putting, you can probably use it to hang curtains.

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