Sam's Commentary

July 09, 2015 Commentary Archive

Get Better: Sea Island Golf Performance Academy

by Sam Kouvaris
Posted July 09, 2015 ===========================================================================

"There's a fine line between the artistry of golf and the advancements in technology," Sea Island Golf Performance Center Manger Craig Allan said this week. "We walk very carefully along that fence."

As the age of technology has made it's way into golf, spin rates and launch angles are as much of the conversation regarding being a better player as are keeping your head down and finishing your swing.

"I can push a player toward game improvement technology in clubs but the player has to like the club they're looking at on good days and bad," Allan explained.

Over the course of about three hours, Allan worked with former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson working through his irons, his wedges and his driver. A variety of iron lengths, shaft flexes and different manufacturers were tried until the combination of statistics and feel were matched up. Using TRACKMAN technology, a Dutch company that has dominated the swing analysis market, Allan was able to measure the launch angle of every shot, the spin rate of the ball, the distance and the height of every swing.

Allan said he works with all levels of students and tries not to rely just on the equipment to make better players. A little instruction goes along with the stats but it's easy to see the "why" a ball is reacting a certain way by just looking at the different measurements taken with each swing.

"TRACKMAN uses radar to measure all of the different components of distance and accuracy and allows us to change the club to fit a players swing. To a certain point," he said with a smile.

"It's amazing to see what your doing wrong, and right, right there on the screen," Robinson said with amazement. "The numbers don't lie and it can be a little intimidating. But once you relax and dig into what you're looking at, it can really help."

Whether it's the swing plane, whether a player is swinging inside out, over the top, too steep or shallow, all of it shows up on the computer screen to allow a Master Club Fitter like Allan to dissect the swing and pick the right equipment.

"We have five different TRACKMAN systems so it's our job to help as many players as we can to be as good as they want to be. This is one of the tools that can really help."

At about $35,000 per unit, Sea Island, and many clubs and teaching centers have made a very big commitment to the technological side of instruction. A full club fitting costs $375 for the sand wedge through driver session that takes about three hours. Just wedges, or irons or driver is about $125 an hour. Pretty reasonable when it comes to being a better player.

"Some great players have gotten away from the artistry of the game and relying on technology" Allan said about the blend he tries to use in his work. "But it'll always remain a game that relies on feel and athleticism. We're just trying to enhance that."


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