After nearly ten years playing golf, I thought I knew my game inside out.
A right-to-left ball flight with the occasional miss-hit off the hosel under pressure and a 270-yard average tee shot with my driver, which translates into a ‘300-yard carry’ when I’m challenging for bragging rights down the pub with my mates.
Despite my six handicap, a few minutes hitting ball under the discerning, eagle-eye of the TrackMan Launch Monitor, at the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Centre of Excellence in Maidenhead, revealed what might yet be achievable with a few tweaks to my swing.
This little black box, originally developed by the military to track guided missiles, might not be everyone’s salvation, but most amateurs, experts and Tour pros who have bared their golfing soul in front of it, say it delivers what a golfer’s equipment-selection process lacks: raw data.
TrackMan measures those defining characteristics at impact. Ball speed off the clubface, club head speed at impact, vertical launch angle, attack angle, dispersion, ball spin rate, face angle at impact, carry through the air and overall distance.
It will even compute a ‘smash factor’ (ball speed divided by club speed) to tell you just how efficient your ball-striking is.
Under the watchful eye of Cleveland Golf/Srixon Centre of Excellence Manager, Dean Cracknell, my fitting process was not dissimilar to the treatment of a tour pro. After being presented with an explanation of TrackMan, I proceeded to hit six balls off the mat with my Srixon WR 7-iron in steel shaft and stiff flex.
Within seconds, the computer screen produced a reflection of the shape and distance of my shots which Dean was able to interpret. I was reasonably pleased with my efforts but he quickly quashed my cockiness.
Dean’s immediate observation (“I take it you’re a good driver of the ball?”) reflected that the technique I was using for an iron was more suited to the driver, and hence my numbers weren’t nearly as good as I’d anticipated.
I was hitting the Srixon Z Star ball around five to ten yards shorter than I’d envisaged - an average carry of 151.5 yards and distance of 163.1 yards - interpreted into 12-yards of run once the ball lands.
Ball spin rate recorded a pretty poor 4800 rpm (optimum is 7000 rpm); no wonder I’m always praying the pin is located at the back of every green!
Average club head speed was 78.9 mph, compared to the PGA Tour’s 90 mph, while my ball speed was some ten yards shorter than a desired 110.1 mph.