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OUT OF BOUNDS


Data game will bring your golf game back to reality


G


olf isn’t your father’s game anymore. Here in the 21st century, it’s about data. Clubhead speed is old-


school stuff. Now there’s ball speed, spin rate, launch angle and smash factor, to name a few. There is putting data, too, such as face angle, impact force and swing path, among others. I’ve always been jealous that


tour pros had access to so much precise data and we average hackers didn’t. Well, now we do because new technology has made it affordable. I have amassed my own precious data


this year and it’s great. Oh, my data isn’t great; it’s just great to have data because now I have eight more excuses for why I suck at golf — AND the evidence to back it up. Since I probably can’t improve my declining game, all I can do is try to improve my alibis. Thank you, data. Let me start from the ground up. I


found IOFit Smart Shoes ($359) at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. They have embedded sensors that mapped pressure points in my feet during my swing. Paired to a phone, the sensors tracked my weight shift. The screen looked like a Weather Channel radar with green being normal, and pressure points ranging from yellow to red, the strongest. I can’t explain the technical IOFit


analysis of what my feet did during my swing. Visually, though, imagine Hurricane Harvey spitting out a mouthful of beer on a radar screen. My footwork is absolutely awful, as is my weight shift. Thank you, data. If you’re anything like me, you’ve


always wanted your own launch monitor, except those things used to start at about $5,000. That’s why I was thrilled


44 | AZ GOLF Insider | SPRING-SUMMER 2018


to find the FlightScope Mevo ($499) at the PGA Merchandise Show. Mevo is a scaled-down launch monitor that uses Doppler radar to independently track the clubhead and the ball. It’s a boxy little thing that’s half the size of your cellphone. It provides launch data plus accurate ball-flight distance. Best of all, when you use your phone to shoot swing video, Mevo pairs with it and overlays the data onto the video. That is cool. Tour player Bryson DeChambeau used Mevo to record his strokes during a U.S. Open practice round at Erin Hills. DeChambeau was interested in the radar numbers on how far his iron shots actually carried, not only to double-check his yardage books but to see how the ball was flying in Wisconsin that week. My stint on Mevo gave me the same numbers as DeChambeau’s. That is, my numbers were also integers. The similarity ended there. There are lies and there are damnable lies, and my numbers were both. My gap wedge flies only 92 yards, Mevo, not 110? What the heck? My 7-iron, my 150-yard club, is really my 137-yard club? Thank you, data. Let’s go to the putting green, then,


where I’d have to fare better, right? Not so fast. I visited the Hole More Putts booth at the PGA Show. The Hole More Putts (HMP for short, $499) device looks like a large tablet. It has infrared sensors to measure my stroke. Who among us has ever even seen putting data? I


arrived just in time to watch some other guy try it out. He looked familiar as he placed a ball in the middle of the HMP and set up to putt. Oh, it was former Walker Cup player and captain John Harris. After five sets of five putts each, HMP provides a score (up to 100) based on how you rated in five categories, including face angle and swing path. Harris rolled it pure with a ton of overspin. His HMP numbers confirmed what I saw—he rated 100 percent in three categories and had an overall score of 94. No wonder he was such a stud. When the HMP I ordered arrived


a few weeks later, my first five-putt effort earned a 47. Take that, Mr. Harris -— and thank you, data! It went no better with the Gen i1


smart ball ($99). This ball has sensors embedded in its core that send data to your phone. It tells you initial direction, impact force, rotation and speed, among other things. The Gen i1 agreed with HMP that while my putter’s face angle is a little off, it’s not nearly as bad as my stroke path. Thank you, data. Unfortunately, numbers don’t lie. Sometimes, I wish they would. n


By Gary Van Sickle


Veteran Gary Van Sickle writes for numerous national golf publications from his office in Pittsburgh.


www.azgolf.org


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