Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ben Hogan + living room video cam + too much time = better swing

I finally read Ben Hogan's famed "Five Lessons." It gives you the model on which you should base your own swing. The only thing missing is (besides drawings of his swing from behind, and not just face-on) a way to compare your swings to Mr. Hogan's model. Enter V1 Video Analysis Software . It's the kind of software that lets you do this:

You can look at all your angles, see how much you move during the swing, determine if your pronating or supinating, and most importantly, compare your swing to one of the swings of professional golfers from their video library--all for free (and for a mere $40, you can upgrade to a version that lets you play your swing alongside a pro's. But if you're just starting out, I'd say you can keep your money -- if you get really serious about improvement, $40 is not much to spend.) Even on my old laptop (850 MHz Pentium III) it ran perfectly smoothly. To see yourself compared to a pro is an epiphany. A few things I discovered were: swings recorded in the living room were equally valuable to swings recorded at the range; feel is, as the cliche goes, not real, i.e., what you think you're doing is not what you're actually doing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Choose your weapons wisely...

I would imagine the golf club industry is like any other, where those with the lion's share or the market do their best to limit the success of small upstarts who, in any miniscule way, threaten their dominance. For instance, Nike, Titleist, Taylor Made and Callaway would probably like for nothing better than lesser-known club companies to die or, at least, sell themselves to them. That's why companies like SMT Golf intrigue me. They appear to make drivers (and it looks like they're tangentializing into irons and fairway woods, too) that seem to have the edge on the designs of bigger companies. I'm no engineer and have no objective means to judge the claims SMT makes, but the fact that a pro (330--seriously?) played their gear without remuneration--or at least, considerably less than a big company could have offered--suggests that either Schwarmkrug is possibly sitting in a motel somewhere crying into his beer, "I'm so stupid! Why didn't I take [Ping's, Titleist's, TaylorMade's] money? Stupid, stupid, stupid!" Or, alternatively, believes in SMT. This also brings to mind another small club company in souther California, KZ Golf. (Disclaimer: I interviewed with them in sales, but decided against it when I came to understand than I would a lousy salesman.) They only sell clubs that are custom fitted to the prospective buyer, which is, after all, what most golfers should be doing. Not only does the fitting process match club to a golfer's physique, but the tester can also point out any egregious swing errors the fittee may be exhibiting. If you see a set of KZG clubs on ebay, don't waste your time buying them because they were fitted to someone else who is not you. Speaking of fitting, Maxout Golf, also here in southern California, does custom fitting, but they don't sell proprietary clubs. Like KZ Golf, they'll fit you, point out your swing flaws, and most likely give you enough improvement that you'll be grateful for the rest of your life.

All these companies--SMT, KZ Golf, and Maxout--offer services that the big golf manufacturers would be happier if you didn't know about, and that if you use them, you'll be better off than buying off the rack.