Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In Defense of Radar Launch Monitors

This was recently tweeted by David Duval and Olin Browne

While I have had my share of criticisms towards Doppler radar launch monitors, I do not believe it ‘ruins swings.’ In fact, the real irony here is that Duval’s swing was ‘ruined the most’ perhaps in the history of golf and it had nothing to do with using a radar launch monitor; simply because he didn’t use one at the time.

I think many golfers treat radar launch monitors as ‘magic pills’ and I think there is a folly to that. For instance, my father is a 15 handicap and knows next to nothing about swing mechanics. If I were to put him on a Trackman and teach him the numbers and D-Plane and left him on his own, I highly doubt he would get any better.

I kind of find it ironic how many instructors will debate me on that matter because if it were true then there would be no need for an instructor. One could simply get on a Trackman and start shooting lower scores.

And that’s really the crux of the situation that Browne and Duval don’t understand; Trackman has never given a lesson to anybody. It is simply a tool that measures and calculates data with regards to ball’s flight and the facets of the club that design the ball’s flight.

Do I think it makes a teacher better?


Teachers only get better when they improve their knowledge of the swing and learn how to become more effective at communicating that knowledge. What I think radar launch monitors do is help provide a pathway for teachers to understand how mechanics can alter impact conditions and the subsequent ball flight. It’s up to the teacher to try and take that pathway.

But radar launch monitors have not ruined swings. I think if anything they have helped a few swings. Case in point, Tiger Woods.

Back when Tiger was working with Hank Haney, it was obvious that he had a serious issue with a path that was well out to the right and a face that had a tendency to get well open. He was also hitting down quite a bit. At that time I mentioned that I felt Tiger should get on a Trackman because he obviously does not understand the D-Plane and the geometry of impact.

It was funny as I was told that Tiger ‘obviously knew D-Plane and the geometry of impact’ by several critics. Then when he finally got on Trackman with his new teacher, Sean Foley, it was obvious that Tiger did not understand D-Plane and the geometry of impact. He was hitting down on the ball roughly by -4° with the driver and producing a club head path of +10° (inside-to-out).

As you will see in this video, Justin Rose didn’t understand D-Plane and the geometry of impact either

Both Tiger and Rose still needed Foley’s knowledge of swing mechanics in order to produce the numbers on the launch monitor. But, I believe that acquiring that knowledge of D-Plane and the Geometry of Impact and being able to SEE it on Trackman helped speed up their learning process. If they were not able to see it in action, I think the learning process is slower and they may end up doubting the information and looking elsewhere for swing instruction.

As of last week, Rose is #1 in my Driving Effectiveness ranking.

Golf swings are ruined by neglect, ignorance and misinformation from the golfer and/or the teacher. It’s really as simple as that. Leave the launch monitors out of it.


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