Whether you’re aware of it or not, we have all heard the Doppler effect in action. You know when an ambulance speeds past you and the tone of the siren changes as it gets further away from you? That’s it, that’s the Doppler effect, what has that got to do with golf though?
Have you heard of TrackMan?
Go to the range at a top tour event these days and behind almost all of the world’s top players you will see a small orange and black box. This is a Doppler radar system or launch monitor, more commonly known as ‘TrackMan’. These small orange beauties are revolutionising how golf is both played and taught. These, by the way, are military grade systems that were originally designed to monitor how missiles would fly after being fired!
How is TrackMan changing golf?
Well, it seems there has been a huge shift in the last decade to almost purely data-based instruction by some coaches. In fact Hank Haney, Tiger’s ex-coach, claims he can just look at your TrackMan data and fix your swing faults without even seeing you hit a ball! David Leadbetter, world renowned golf coach and All Square user, is also a fan. In reference to Lydia Ko using TrackMan he said “You see the improvement in the striking, you see the improvement in the ball flight and you see the improvement in the numbers. Her personal confidence goes through the roof”.
TrackMan can very clearly help many golfers.
It delivers Formula One-type telemetry to athletes and allows them to see exactly what each swing movement is resulting in with pure raw data. However, it’s had another incredible effect, it has also given us new insights into golf shots and allowed us to improve them. It has shown us that reducing the spin rate of the ball with a driver and optimising launch angle can result in huge distance gains without making any swing changes. It’s also shown us that a 9-iron is the most consistent club to use around the greens due to a loft of 45 degrees being optimal for spin rate on approach shots.
This technology has given us many insights into how a golf ball reacts in those precious milliseconds after impact and, more importantly, what the club is doing to cause this. They are clearly fantastic bits of kit and there’s no coincidence that the best players in the world use them religiously. Many driving ranges have them installed and I urge you to use them in your practice, at least on a semi-regular basis.