It was an interesting week for me as I spent the first part in Italy at a Capto putting seminar and then attended an online webinar from K-Motion. Two brands in the golf world, that unless you are involved in the industry, have probably never heard of before. But you will.
The world of 3D technology is approaching golf at warp speed and nowhere is this more evident than in the world of putting. Having been brought up on a staple diet of SamPutt Lab and Quintic products for analysing the putting stroke, it was astonishing to witness first hand how a 7 handicap scientist from Italy could invent something so "Uber" like, a simple idea, executed to perfection in a world of infinite probabilities and possibilities.
Luca Menci is that scientist, an Italian who professes to love the game of golf but has struggled to conquer it on course. He suffers from that common problem of highly intelligent people in life, who take up golf as an afterthought to maybe a successful sporting career, why can't I do this? I have waltzed through life, never struggled in business or sport and now...this?
The following Ben Hogan quote, which I have used many times before sums it all up succinctly,
“Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.”
Luca came from a 3D mapping world and has devoted himself to developing a system for coaches to analyse the putting stroke from the inside out. We can now see how the body moves in all planes of motion as the golfer putts. This was done by using the novel (for me anyway, Luca will probably argue that is was quite evident!) idea of creating two areas of reference, what he calls Kernels, which are two colored orbs that help us track how (a) the body moves in relation to the head of the putter and independently (b) the hands and shaft move. Match these two reference points together, and you will have a rock-solid putting stroke. Having spent a couple of days working with the system, it is, without doubt, the best putting analytic tool I have come across for golf coaches. Throw in its ease of use, indoors and out, and it's what we would call in horse racing parlance, "a nailed on winner."
Hot on its heels is the K-Motion software which has been around for some years but has steadily increased its usability for coaches and players alike. Just announced is a new function which allows the player to hit just twelve shots, (driver and 6 iron), then K-Motion will evaluate areas that need to be improved in the golf swing. From there it will build out a drill based program to help the player. This is an invaluable tool when used in conjunction with other forms of technology and the coaches intuition. It's all about confirming what we may suspect is the root cause of swing problems, but now instead of sometimes guessing, we are measuring.
Finally, with Boditrak pressure mats and Gears technology (above) measuring everything from the ground up, the old refrains of move your weight back and then forward have been replaced with moving your COP (center of pressure). It's a new and exciting world in golf coaching as we now enter an era where what pros have been doing for years is becoming more accessible to the general public.
An hour to spare?
I am a big fan of Podcasts, and I like to listen to them in the background while working on all things digital. There are some terrific ones around (if you know where to look) and I will try to guide you towards some of my favorites. This week its back to the always excellent, Andrew Cotter, and the European Tour Podcast, "Life on Tour." Justin Rose is in the hot seat, and it's worth a listen! Enjoy!
Last word this week goes to the Swiss Golf Federation
Twelve of the Swiss golf federation turned up in Italy last week for the Capto putting seminar, and it was truly refreshing to meet golf pros who actually admitted they didn't know it all. Most agreed that golf tuition had entered a new, exciting phase, of "here's a teaspoon, now go dig up that mountain." The exam to gain certification was also a welcome departure with a test sheet with 99 questions being handed out at 5.30pm at the end of the first day. Nothing else was said except to have it completed by 9am the next morning. Small groups, as you would expect, formed and most finished at around 10pm. The following day we discussed the answers as a group, one person would read out each question and give his answer and we would critique. What we didn't know was some of the questions could have two answers. It was one of the most intuitive learning experiences I have encountered and very clever by Luca Menci!
The World Amateur Team Championships was held during the summer at Carton House, and anyone with a passing interest in golf would have noticed the incredible scoring from the winners Denmark, with Spain, Norway and Italy not far behind. Speaking over the three days to different continental coaches, it was evident how much store they put in technology when teaching, everything from junior level up is measured. To those who would argue it's all too abstract, that we are making an already difficult game too complicated, the trick for modern coaches is to convey the message in words, images and feelings so the pupil can understand. We, as coaches, need to know (as Luca would be fond of saying) with "deep understanding," the nuances of the golf swing while being acutly aware that we will never get to end of the yellow brick road.
That's the excitement of the journey, you can never conquer knowledge! Accept this and you will always improve.
Finally, a sincere thank you to Carlos Duran, the head pro at Ascona GC in Switzerland. Myself, and fellow Irish teaching professional, Wayne O'Callaghan, went to meet him at his home club after the seminar to witness their junior coaching program and the incredible club facilities. It was eye-opening to say the least!
We in Ireland, for such a small country, have enjoyed incredible success in golf but need to be aware that other European countries are embracing technology and are assessing not guessing, we only have to look at the composition of players coming from the amateur ranks out onto the European Tour to ponder, as we bask in the reflected glory of dominant home international team glory, have we missed a trick?
Thank you for reading, it is much appreciated!
Enjoy your golf if you get out to play, hopefully the weather will behave!
Tadhg Harrington is a full time, professional golf instructor, and owner of the Harrington Golf Academy, based in Dublin, Ireland. He is a graduate of the Titleist Performance Institute and Setanta College. He is the eldest brother of three-time time Major Champion, Padraig Harrington.
He succeeds, employing empathy, passion and exceptional customer service, teaching above the noise, the quick tips, and the latest fads and is truly unique in the Irish golf industry.
The Harrington Golf Academy provides long term coaching programs designed to bring sensory processing to motor learning skills. Tadhg teaches the long game at Drynam Park Golf Centre and short game at Roganstown GC. His business partner, Ex European Tour Player, Rebecca Codd, also teaches full time at Drynam Park Golf Centre.