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Value Of Portable Launch Monitors

When is the last time you carefully considered Clubface Aim, Clubhead Path, Clubhead Speed, Ball Speed, Sweet Spot (Impact Point), Smash Factor, Angle Of Attack (AoA), Launch Angle or Approach, X and Y Axis Spin Rate, Carry Distance, Trajectory, Parabolic Behaviour (Apex) and more. Are each of these items ringing a clarion bell for you … a clean and pure sound?

Swing speeds below 85 mph will benefit from a high launch angle and a high spin rate. The reason is simple physics. (see ‘Bournoulli’s Theorm’ and ‘The Venturi Effect’) More spin generates more lift, which can help the ball stay in the air longer and accomplish increased carry distance. At lower speeds, the drag and energy lost in creating spin are offset by the improvement in distance caused by the increased time in the air.

With ‘Clubhead Speeds’ in excess of 85 to 100 miles per hour, science and physics is different! How about 140 MPH on the screws? It is a demanding challenge to make a golf ball travel out there in excess of 300 yards! Fewer athletes accomplish that feat than one might think!

The loft of the club is only one of many factors that affect the launch angle and ultimately the total distance a player can hit a driver. Other factors are 1) Clubhead Design (Woods & Irons), 2) shaft type, 3) weather conditions, 4) turf conditions, 5) Ball Location, 6) ball construction, 7) vertical roll and horizontal bulge of the face, 8) Sweet Spot, 9) Ballistic Point on the face (Center Of Mass – COM or Center Of Gravity – COG) location of the head.

If you look at turf conditions, hard and dry verses plush, a high launch scenario may not be the optimum. (see ‘Minimized Run or Roll Factor’) Where there is a condition for a ball to roll, the desired launch conditions to maximize distance sometimes change sometimes dramatically. In conducting launch test with players, the data gathered can give insight into how to optimize distance. But it must be understood that many shots are required to gain a pool of data before any real data base conclusions can be drawn. Golf involves massive ‘Variables’.

It must also be remembered that unless the player being tested can achieve very consistent contact and swing speeds, the results will vary a lot from shot to shot. Another point to make here is that in robotic testing, although repeatability can be achieved in the contact point and clubhead speed, the swing of the robot does not simulate that of the majority of golfers! Even if the robotic swing could be made to emulate most swing types, few golfers could approach the repeatability of contact point and clubhead speed. (see ‘Consistency’) Therefore, data based solely on results from robotic testing do not always indicate what will happen in the real world.

Launch monitors (Dozens of Makes & Models) are useful tools in evaluating real golfers, on any given shot, to determine if the launch conditions and spin rate are within the parameters needed to optimize distance. However, fitting the basics of loft, club length, shaft weight and flex, and observing trajectory, ball flight characteristics, and the understanding of a player’s ability and needs will achieve a fit that optimizes distance and direction control. Launch monitors are a great addition to the fitting process but are not a be-all, end-all method for fitting or determining driver performance.

Have you got $15,000.00 plus for a Trackman? Can you afford and learn how to really use Garmin Approach, Smart Phone Technology, Foresight, PRGR, GCQuad, Accusport, Mevo (Flight Scope), Swing Carry (SC200 and SC300 … $500.00) There are a lot more! Oh! Don’t forget a box full of fresh batteries or your specific fitting charger with a compatible plug-in source! Running out of ‘Charge’ is never convenient!

Owning a quality ‘Laser Range Finder’ is of considerable purpose! Some provide ‘Slope Information’ that may or may not be legal! Good ones often cost more than a couple or three ‘Benjamins’. Technology growth from the early Bushnell hunting models is quite amazing!

It is poignantly problematic to get overly consumed or engrossed in ‘Spread-Sheets’ full of numbers. Too much data creates ‘Pressure and Stress … never a good thing in ‘The Great Game’.

I have had manifold conversations with ‘Tour and Very talented Players’. They like a professional to gather ‘Driver Data’, but beyond that, less than you might surmise! “Your Smash Factor is 1.957!” A common response might be “What was my carry and how did the ball respond to Mother Earth on touch-down?”

Ben Hogan said that his toughest critic was “Ball Flight”! That learned skill did NOT involve ‘high-end electronics’, just keen senses!

Simplicity actually and generally rules!

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