More Fun

And just like that… it’s 2014!

14th year as a pro. And believe it or not, I’m excited to find out if life will really begin for me.

Yes, that’s right. Turning 40.

Four. Zero.

I used to dread the idea. Then I realized there are some benefits that come with it. Like the fact that people are less likely to question what you say (especially when you can hit it past them).

Anyway… enough about me. I know most of you have plans and goals (read resolutions) to play better in 2014. I hope my first post of the year will help you get off to a good start.

In the past couple of months or so, I’ve been using this amazing device called Swingbyte 2. It attaches to the shaft of any club (including the putter) and basically measures the movement of the club throughout the swing and sends the data via bluetooth to your tablet.

Swing speed. Swing path. Face angle. Tempo. Everything you need to know. The app (which is free) creates an intuitive 3D simulation of your swing which can be viewed from any angle.

I used to rely on high speed video for swing analysis. Although it has served me well for more than a decade, it has its weaknesses. As much as I’d like to think of it as completely objective, there is quite a bit of room for interpretation in terms of what is correct. And in low light (which is a big chunk of my lessons), it’s difficult to get enough shutter speed to freeze clubhead motion. I still use video, but Swingbyte 2 has made my job so much easier… and fun.

One particular area where Swingbyte 2 really impressed me was in the short game. The screenshots below were taken from a session I had with a student who was struggling with his chipping. “Chili-dip” as they call it.

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Let’s focus on two numbers:
1. Attack angle
2. Shaft lean

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It’s clear he was both swinging upward at impact and adding loft. I didn’t have to do the analysis. The device just tells me.

After explaining to him that he needs to maintain the shaft lean he had at address, my student started hitting better in just a matter of minutes. The instant feedback he got from SB2 after every shot confirmed that he was indeed making the adjustments he thought he was making.

Check out the next few images.

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Accurate analysis + measurable progress = confidence.

As far as theory is concerned, it proved (at least to me) what has been misunderstood by a lot of people for a long time, that you need to play the ball back in the stance (or lean the shaft forward) in order to “hit down” on the ball.

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As you can see in the last screenshot, although the shaft leaned more forward at impact, the attack angle wasn’t necessarily steep – something that surprised my student. He had always assumed that a shallow angle of attack could not produce such a good result.

The problem when you combine a pronounced shaft lean and a steep angle of attack is that the bounce of your club is effectively eliminated, causing the leading edge to dig too much. It doesn’t take that many fat shots for you to start decelerating through the ball for fear of chunking.

Remember the chili-dip above where my student swung up on the ball? Funny thing is he was actually trying to avoid swinging up! Unbelievable, right? But it’s a classic case of a mechanical flaw turning into a mental issue… all because of a misconception.

Did I tell you my job is fun?

Is the SB2 perfect? The answer is of course…. no. Its accuracy depends on several things. First, it needs to be aligned correctly with the clubface. Secondly, it needs to be re-aligned every now and then especially after mishits. Lastly, you have to aim the clubface exactly at the target at address.

It’s not an issue however in the Apple version, where they incorporated what they call “Target Recognition”. Instead of the initial clubface position, it uses the real target as the reference.

I happen to use Android. Nevertheless, it has exceeded my expectations. For less than the price of a new driver, you get a mini Trackman in your pocket. I strongly recommend it.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope to post more of my experiences with this new toy in the weeks to come, so be sure to check in once in a while.

God bless!

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