It is not going to shock anyone to learn that we live in a world heavily influenced by advances in technology. This is certainly no surprise to those who have followed the new discoveries and game altering changes realized by the game of golf over the past 15 years. Of course, most obvious to the everyday player has been how technological advances in golf equipment have stretched the physical boundaries of the game. But it is technology used behind the scenes, and the data that can be collected analyzing how a golf ball reacts when struck with a golf club, that will truly revolutionize the game.
The United States Golf Academy was one of the first golf schools to make the investment in the diagnostic equipment available to study a golf ball in flight. After thorough research the Academy purchased two Trackman Pro ball flight monitors. This “radar based” technology tracks and measures every parameter that influences a golf ball in flight with amazing accuracy. Trackman is considered the industry standard in obtaining ball flight measurements and this information combined with legislated limitations on golf equipment provides a clear understanding of the distance a ball can fly when a particular golf club is moving at a certain speed. For example, if a driver is moving at 75 mph at impact the best one should expect the ball to carry is around 165 yards. At 90 miles per hour the carry increases to around 215. Using these base statistics allows us for the first time to measure the efficiency of method, equipment and most important the combination of the two.
While the original goal of the Academy was to use the measurements as a guide to fit and test golf equipment, they were surprised by the additional discoveries the data provided. The process began by comparing different swing techniques to the ball flight information. The swing methods were grouped by considering two parameters, swing plane and club head rotation. In other words, how does the direction the club approaches the golf ball and the amount the clubface opens and closes while it is in motion, affect the speed and spin the ball has in flight. As the Academy analyzed the ball flight data from their Trackman Pro ball flight monitors and compared to the video tape of the swings, one thing became apparent very quickly. Depending on a players needs, certain combinations of technique and equipment were much more effective than others. Nowhere was this more noticeable than when evaluating women’s golf swings using standardized women’s golf equipment. Based on these studies the United States Golf Academy has recently made a strategic decision to offer the United States Golf Academy for Women. This was not a decision that was made lightly, but as the studies continued the need for a different strategy for the women’s game became obvious. The Academy could no longer take methods and techniques created with a man’s game in mind and try to apply them to women and will release their findings at the Academy for Women beginning with the 2010 golf season.