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The march of launch-monitor technology is relentless, but despite its highly-priced marketplace a few brands clearly stand out. Paul Trow samples one star performer that should not break the bank


peed, the 1994 thriller starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper, was a brilliant but terrifying visual

sensation. Reeves and Bullock were trapped in a Los

Angeles bus that was hurtling to destruction, programmed to go ever faster by the villainous Hopper. For its day – pre-internet, pre-Facebook, pre-

Twitter – it was a groundbreaking film that married virtuoso technology with old-fashioned, twisted human fear. And as for the histrionics and tension, Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t have tickled our bladders

more fiendishly. The film’s moral, if it had one, was there’s nothing wrong with tackling life in the comfort of a lower gear and anyone hell bent on going as fast as they can, if not faster, had better watch out. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and speed is

on everyone’s minds more than ever. We’re perpetually in a hurry, hammering the outside lane in search of instant gratification. To some extent, this is also true of golf. Slow

play is increasingly frowned upon, people haven’t got the time to play a full round any more, and meteoric playing careers are reaching their peak at a much younger age than a generation ago. Patience, for so long golf’s ultimate virtue, is these days parked in a cul-de- sac.

But progress cannot be halted, let alone

reversed. Going hand in glove with the contemporary mode is the increasing emphasis placed on clubhead speed and ball speed off the clubface – two very different measurements though more integrally entwined than ever as the game’s perennial journey accelerates towards perceived perfection. Nowadays, the received opinion seems to be

that distance (as much of it as possible, and then some) is the priority – not just when teaching youngsters but even arthritic has-beens like yours truly. Once that quest has reached fruition, so the theory goes, the other skills will naturally fall into place. As instruction policy, this is a relatively new

take. Indeed, only during the last five years or so have launch monitors like TrackMan or

22 SGBGOLF Now, the ‘grip it and rip it’ philosophy holds

sway. And given the increasing length of today’s courses, and not just from the tips, I’d say it’s here to stay. Today’s march of progress is measured by the

appliance of science, and nowhere in golf can this be found to greater effect than in the new SkyTrak personal launch monitor and the interface it enjoys with state-of-the-art simulators. This project was unveiled to me in two parts – a soſt sell supported by renowned instructor Hank Haney at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January, and more recently a firmed- up presentation in the PGA’s headquarters at The

Foresight Sports’ GC2 made the transition from wonky Tour-geek, slow-mo gadgetry to mainstream teaching aids. Before that, we were all schooled in the traditional basics – grip, stance, alignment, takeaway, hip turn, even dear old John Jacobs’ “open the door, close the door” mantra – before moving towards the traditional Holy Grail of crisp timing allied to impeccable flight control.

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