Coaching with Technology
By Bradley Turner, Keiser University College of Golf Director of Online Golf Instruction – MBA, PGA
The Keiser University College of Golf (KUCOG), located at the university’s Flagship campus, has recently added new golf instruction technology to its existing offerings to students.
The KUCOG Training Center has added a Swing Catalyst, which provides high-level feedback on pressure and weight distribution through the use of pressure plates, and a new instruction room that houses a Full Swing Simulator and a Science and Motion (SAM) Putt Lab. The dedicated instruction space will provide KUCOG coaches and students the opportunity to analyze their golf swings further using sophisticated golf industry equipment.
The KUCOG indoor Golf Training Center has multiple launch monitors, video analysis systems, club fitting programs, and a fully functional club repair shop to attend to any golf-related needs for KUCOG students. The technology available at the Flagship campus is as good as any other golf facility in the world, and it enables us to measure the quality of many aspects of a golf swing for coaches, students, and visitors. The scientific truth of a golf swing can be hard to swallow for the average golfer, so understanding the science of a successful swing helps pave a path to better ball striking in the future.
It was not too long ago when golfers were searching blindly for the secret to great ball striking. Numerous books were written by the best players of the time, but golfers have continued to struggle with the game. Ben Hogan’s book, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, was written in the 1950’s, and 60+ years later, it is still in print. Many teaching professionals used this book as the foundation of their teaching. Trying to swing like Ben Hogan was an admirable objective in those days, but it never seemed to produce lasting results for their students. In the end, the golf swing was a mystery to the average golfer and for most professional instructors.
For those teaching professionals who were not using Hogan’s book, golf instruction was often teaching their swing thoughts and ideas with all of their students. Back then, the study of the golf swing was basically looking at photographs of the best PGA tour players and trying to emulate their key positions in the golf swing. It was virtually impossible to find a slow-motion video of any of the great players of the day, and if you were lucky enough to see one, it was like gold to a golf instructor. Suffice to say; golf instruction was much more of an art form than a science.
The Search for the Perfect Swing
The first real breakthrough in understanding the science of the golf swing was a book written in 1968 called The Search for the Perfect Swing. A handful of scientists from England, with very little golf background, conducted a robust set of tests and measurements to unlock the secret to the golf swing. Their findings started to revolutionize golf instruction, and if you were a golf instructor in the 1970s, it was a must-read. For a new instructor in 2021, it is still a must-read, as most of the content is consistent with what we know today. One of the book’s key findings was that there was no perfect swing, but multiple golf swings that could produce tour quality ball striking potential. The other discovery was that many golf swings would never produce tour-quality ball striking!
The X-Ray of a Golf Swing – Video
I like to compare the use of video analysis to a physician taking an X-ray of a patient to get a picture of potential problems. In golf instruction, the video camera can slow down a golf swing, allowing coaches to study frame by frame what a player is doing through the impact zone. I purchased my first high shutter speed video camera in 1990. Video footage was the next big breakthrough in golf instruction since we did not have to speculate on what was happening; we could see the facts of a golf swing. During the 1990s, taking an “X-ray” of a golf swing became a must for any quality golf coach. With many coaches using video, the overall understanding of the golf swing increased significantly within the golf instruction profession. Video is necessary today in golf instruction and continues to provide important information to golf coaches. But an X-ray does not show everything, and when the patient’s problem is still not diagnosed, the physician will ask for an MRI to be performed.
The MRI of Impact – Launch Monitors
Video can reveal a player’s ball flight tendency, but it would be impossible to know where the ball went without actually watching the ball flight. With launch monitors, the ball flight is calculated through various technologies such as Doppler radar to accurately assess the club movement and ball flight speed and spin characteristics. The use of launch monitors, like Flightscope and Trackman, provides a depth of scientific feedback that identifies the club’s movement through impact and the resulting ball flight. Similar to an MRI for a physician, launch monitors can provide a plethora of data measurements on each golf swing. Highly trained golf coaches can study the data in club movement from swing to swing and diagnose a player’s swing issue. In short, we can now hit a ball into a net indoors and watch the ball fly with amazing accuracy on a monitor a few feet away.
The other big breakthrough with a launch monitor is that it measures the quality of a golf swing based on scientific data. The look of a golf swing does not identify an excellent ball striker. A pretty swing is nice to look at, but it does not mean you will be a low handicap golfer. The wide variety of golf swings on the PGA tour shows that looking good on video is no longer something that tournament players seek. They are in search of the perfect numbers on a launch monitor.
The MRI of Body Movement – Swing Catalyst
Swing Catalyst is another MRI-like technology available to golf instructors. Swing Catalyst technology uses pressure plates to measure the ground forces during the golf swing. We can now essentially measure the body’s movement with pressure plates under the feet of the golfer. Once again, video is limiting, as it is very difficult for even the most experienced coach to know when and where the center of pressure is moving in the golf swing. Pressure plates can measure the horizontal and vertical changes in pressure at specific points during the golf swing. Weight distribution is very difficult to see on a video, so it is best to measure pressure shifts and weight distribution through the use of this pressure plate technology.
With both V1 Video software, the new Swing Catalyst, and Flightscope launch monitor, coaches can now associate an actual number to the feeling a player will have of a golf swing. Matching the data to the feel is one reason we are seeing so many young professional players impacting the PGA and LPGA tours. Coaches are no longer blindly searching for the perfect swing and are highly focused on producing efficient and repeatable golf swings.
The new technology in the Keiser University Golf Training Center is a wonderful addition to an already outstanding indoor training facility. Through the use of video, launch monitors, and pressure plates, students will be well trained with the best information available in golf instruction. The knowledge and experience gained while completing the Associate and Bachelor’s degree programs will prepare College of Golf students for a successful career in golf instruction.
If you’d like to study with Bradley Turner and other PGA Master Professionals, contact the College of Golf today.