Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby Ded2Journey » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:33 am

I spent the majority of last night reading through the threads about launch monitors and I really do not understand why ABS students/teachers do not embrace the technology. Most of the threads I looked at were a few years old, but things have greatly improved.

I use a GC2 with a head measurement tool everyday. I compare my numbers to today's professionals and have found rapid improvement in my ball striking. In the end, I use it as it was intended to be used...a tool to diagnose and refine your swing characteristics. The club fitting portion of the tool is helpful...but I don't fully support changing your club to fit your swing until you get to a level of +3 or higher.

So, "WHY" is it that ABS students/teachers are reluctant to embrace the technology? Why is it that you think physics and launch characteristics cannot assist your journey to become a better ball striker?

I wonder if Hogan would feel the same way? After all, he did use a tree to track trajectories, wind to adjust spin rates, divots and ball flight to adjust his path, constant grip changes to adjust his face angles, and a caddy boy/bag to track/adjust for carry yardages.
"People have always been telling me what I can't do. I guess I have wanted to show them. That's been one of my driving forces all my life." -Ben Hogan
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby lagpressure » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:04 am

Is there a data entry on the machine where you put input the weight of the clubhead and some sort of stiffness of the shaft?
Do the machines measure acceleration rates or declines pre and post impact? That would be interesting information to me.

My experiences are brief on the machines... but as a player, I disagree with some sort of ideal launch angle. If it is 13 degrees in a vacuum or golf is played indoors in a dome etc.. then there might be some value to that, but when I play, there is usually always some wind and I look to keep the ball down quite often, or might want to throw one up higher downwind. My trajectory is going to change if I draw or fade the ball off the tee. What is the machine going to tell me that ball flight is not going to tell me?

Why do I have to line up square to the target line? I set up 15 degrees left often on standard shots.

Does the machine measure torquing or twisting rates of off centered hits between initial contact and separation? or does it just say path was this and face angle was that and ball did this?

If I hit 14 drives in a round, I usually hit at least four iron shots off tees or 2 woods etc. Of those 10 remaining drives, probably half of them I am more interested in positioning the ball to a particular place or angle in the fairway. There might be 4 times a round where the longest drive possible would be of great advantage. My point being that putting great priority on getting high swing velocity #s on a machine is not going to have much to do with scoring better on the course.

The last time we were testing some golf balls, the machine was spitting out all kinds of wacky #s that simply were not correct for whatever reason.

Just my thoughts.
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby Craig Toone » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:25 am

The machine gives you numbers that all. Up to you how to interpret it for your goals. It's not all about driver distance kapow launch.

I like to use one on occasion. I'm not hung up on zeroing out, I merely use it as a reference for FEEL. Learn feel from mechanics all that jazz. As always we can end up overdoing a swing fix, so it's good to reference back and chart progress over a period of time. It's also great for providing feedback on shaping shots, or how to get more out of your current technique. Playing around with ball position is always interesting and you can make faster progress IMOP. It is also good for "dialling in" your yardages across the bag and dealing with any gaps, which is very common with modern gear. There is a reason I still play blades.

The data can provide assurances for how far you have come, or still need to go. Some of us are wired to learn with data

So my opinion is it's a great tool in the right hands
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby 20 Mule Team » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:31 am

I'm not against using launch monitors but I think if you're going to use them you have to keep in mind their potential shortcomings, which to my mind are:

1) Use of split second measurements that even if they are off by tiny fractions could lead to faulty conclusions;
2) Use of programmed algorithms that also could be found to have underlying errors of logic or omission.

IIRC it wasn't too long ago that one of launch monitor makers was shown to have some important errors in their setup.

I've always thought of myself as a tech guy, but the older I get the more I see that a lot of tech gadgets are driven more by marketing and false hopes than by hard science. And in this case, I'm not sure that the 'virtual driving range' is a faithful and completely trustworthy facsimile of the real thing. One day it will be, but I'm not convinced we're there yet. But even when we are, I think the feedback I get from a $5 bucket of balls on a real range is as valuable if not moreso than what I'd get from a $30,000 monitor.

Too much information can be as bad as too little. Our obsession with this great game leads us down some strange rabbit holes sometimes.

Just my opinion, obviously.
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby Ded2Journey » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:18 pm

Is there a data entry on the machine where you put input the weight of the clubhead and some sort of stiffness of the shaft?

No they do not. Please explain how the ball knows the characteristics of the shaft? Additionally, show me how weight affects ball flight. I believe alloy charcteristics will have a bigger effect on ball flight than weight. I hope there is a scientific study to prove wrong. In the end: mass x acceleration=force. However iF I have inferior alloys, I will not be able to efficiently transfer energy into the ball at higher velocities.

Do the machines measure acceleration rates or declines pre and post impact?

No they do not, but they do measure smash factor which shows how effectively you transferred energy into the ball. I would assume PIA intentions would lead to better ball flight on off center hits...but to me that is a moot point when you put elite ball strikers together.

That would be interesting information to me.

Why? It is impossible to accelerate the clubhead past impact, physics proves that. The ball is the only way to track the importance of Post Impact Intentions...

My experiences are brief on the machines... but as a player, I disagree with some sort of ideal launch angle. If it is 13 degrees in a vacuum or golf is played indoors in a dome etc.. then there might be some value to that, but when I play, there is usually always some wind and I look to keep the ball down quite often, or might want to throw one up higher downwind. My trajectory is going to change if I draw or fade the ball off the tee. What is the machine going to tell me that ball flight is not going to tell me?

From my vantage point, limited LM experience does not provide you the authority to call the science bogus. This is close-minded and confusing. As an advanced ball striker and instructor I would hope that you have a constant yearning to grow in your knowledge. However, this is not the case when it comes to using technology--any technology. The ball flight "laws" are sound and replicated 100% of the time...it's science and math. You just can't argue it isn't valid.

The machine is going to help you refine your feels. Ball flight is always the best instructor, but feel is our only path to consistent day to day results. I concur with you point of view about wind, etc....but you can set up these systems on Golf courses, replicate those conditions quite accurately and test fundamentals against it. All of these devices travel outside and can be used in conjunction with the elements. So, IMHO...this argument is obsolete.

Why do I have to line up square to the target line? I set up 15 degrees left often on standard shots.

There is no LM that forces you to line up square. You just have to point it at your target and stick your ball in the middle of that line. In fact, I have been testing ball position, stance and alignment over the past month. I'm finding that I also play best with an open stance.

Does the machine measure torquing or twisting rates of off centered hits between initial contact and separation? or does it just say path was this and face angle was that and ball did this?

It does not measure these things. However, we all know how gear effect works. Swingers will experience higher side spin rates (hooks/slices) on off center hits, hitters will tend to just block/pull off center hits. Or in some cases your path, face angle and off centered hit can make the ball fly straight. You can test your theories of hitting and swinging to see the difference, but I can tell you first hand from doing it. If anything, it supports your hitting vs. swinging article with factual evidence...

If I hit 14 drives in a round, I usually hit at least four iron shots off tees or 2 woods etc. Of those 10 remaining drives, probably half of them I am more interested in positioning the ball to a particular place or angle in the fairway. There might be 4 times a round where the longest drive possible would be of great advantage. My point being that putting great priority on getting high swing velocity #s on a machine is not going to have much to do with scoring better on the course.

I would never advocate using these machines to see how far I hit it. Only efficiency and accuracy...both of those things will most definitely have an affect on score! In fact, once again--you can pull up a course you like to play and practice hitting to those spots...

The last time we were testing some golf balls, the machine was spitting out all kinds of wacky #s that simply were not correct for whatever reason.

You do get odd readings every now and then indoors, even with the top of line launch monitors. Luckily, Trackman and others have written code to no longer log those readings. Additionally, when using the doppler systems outdoors this RARELY if EVER happens.

Just my thoughts.

This is my major issue Lag. You strike me as an intelligent man and a great ball striker who enjoys sharing/teaching. Thoughts are not fact, especially when based on limited experience... I just can't understand why you would ever limit your knowledge? I'm not saying you have to embrace and support it...but why limit it?
"People have always been telling me what I can't do. I guess I have wanted to show them. That's been one of my driving forces all my life." -Ben Hogan
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby Ded2Journey » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:20 pm

20 Mule Team wrote:I'm not against using launch monitors but I think if you're going to use them you have to keep in mind their potential shortcomings, which to my mind are:

1) Use of split second measurements that even if they are off by tiny fractions could lead to faulty conclusions;
2) Use of programmed algorithms that also could be found to have underlying errors of logic or omission.

IIRC it wasn't too long ago that one of launch monitor makers was shown to have some important errors in their setup.

I've always thought of myself as a tech guy, but the older I get the more I see that a lot of tech gadgets are driven more by marketing and false hopes than by hard science. And in this case, I'm not sure that the 'virtual driving range' is a faithful and completely trustworthy facsimile of the real thing. One day it will be, but I'm not convinced we're there yet. But even when we are, I think the feedback I get from a $5 bucket of balls on a real range is as valuable if not moreso than what I'd get from a $30,000 monitor.

Too much information can be as bad as too little. Our obsession with this great game leads us down some strange rabbit holes sometimes.

Just my opinion, obviously.


That's why you take these devices outside...they are doppler radars. They track the ball all the way until it lands. If you HAVE to hit it indoors...just be aware that some readings will not be accurate. Also, Launch Monitors nowadays can be purchased for $2500. For those who have long winters and empty garages...you can continue improving.
"People have always been telling me what I can't do. I guess I have wanted to show them. That's been one of my driving forces all my life." -Ben Hogan
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby Richie3Jack » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:43 pm

Lag and others along with myself have discussed Trackman and FlightScope quite frequently. I think the issue is that launch monitors are limited in what they can do for a golfer. Many launch monitor fans act like they are the be all, end all. And then people that are skeptical about launch monitors tend to become even more skeptical. It also doesn't help that the margin of error claims that Trackman claims they have is nowhere near reality. It doesn't mean the machine is useless in helping a golfer, but again...when fanatics are claiming it to the be the magic bullet and it turns out that it's not as accurate as its claiming to be...it increases skepticism.

What I like about launch monitors is that it does provide a basic MRI of the golfer's impact conditions. The angle of attack is important to understand. I don't believe in there being a 'proper' angle of attack, but if a player is struggling, it would be nice to know what their attack angle is. From there you can choose to either shallow or steepen the attack angle and get an idea of how much you want to change. Or you can see that the attack angle is not a problem and you need to look elsewhere. The same goes for other measurements like VSP, swing direction, dynamic loft, etc. But, I think the main thing it has helped golfers with is understanding the ball flight laws and understanding their launch conditions with the driver. It's like giving somebody directions in the car, it helps to know where the person is located in order to tell them what path to take.

One of the things I noticed with Trackman a few years ago and dealing with Tour players is the complaints they had about there being a honeymoon phase when using the launch monitor and then they reverted back to their old ballstriking. And in some cases they got worse. There was a lot of talk about 'chasing the numbers', but it was difficult for anybody to really articulate on what that meant and why that was detrimental.

The idea of Trackman for golf use is to look at the numbers and essentially try and achieve the numbers you desire. It's very feel based and requires a bit of reverse engineering. You see the numbers...then figure out what mechanics you need to alter in order to alter those numbers. It's not a terrible way to practice, but it's limited in its effectiveness. The brain picks up skills better by executing the mechanics first and trying to establish a feel for those mechanics. But the other key part is that one can cheat the numbers by getting the numbers without actually executing the mechanics.

Many will say if you're achieving the numbers, what does it matter?

The issue is that the concept of altering mechanics is not only to achieve the numbers, but to be able to achieve those numbers consistently. And the way the brain works and learns is by executing the mechanics properly a lot of the time while avoiding improper execution of the mechanics. So if you're cheating the numbers, you're not operating the mechanics correctly and if anything, you're likely to incorporate those unwanted mechanics.

I'll give a good example. I have watched Seung-Yul Noh in person a few times this past season at different events. If you watch him on the range hit his driver, it is impressive. He hits towering drives that are virtually straight and right at the target. He will also practice with a Trackman. However, he ended up ranking 145th out of 177 players in my Driving Effectiveness metric. I would watch him play practice rounds right after getting off the range and on the course he is a completely different golfer with the driver. He is quite erratic. On the range he'll hit a drive about as well as one could hope for, look at his Trackman and if the numbers aren't perfect he'll shake his head in disgust and rinse and repeat.

That's another thing I've found talking to Tour clients. They have occasionally brought the Trackman onto the course and consistently find that their numbers on the range are very different from the numbers on the course. I think that speaks to the limitations of actually learning and picking up skills by using a Trackman or FlightScope. If they were effective at acquiring those skills, the numbers on the course would be similar.

What we are seeing on Tour is the older owners of Trackman and FlightScope are starting to use those machines less frequently as they are leery of 'chasing the numbers' and the newer Trackman owners it is an eye opener for them and they don't leave anywhere without it. What I like about Trackman is it is getting many Tour players (and amateurs) out of extremely steep attack angles with the driver (-5 or steeper). But, there are too many Trackman users that believe you must hit up on the driver which I have proven to be detrimental in many cases. Many golfers that may have a steep attack angle of say, -6 degrees with the driver, may be just as lousy by hitting up on the driver by +2 degrees and they hit it most effectively at -3 degrees.

In the end, I think it serves a purpose, but I think the golfer needs to pick and choose how, when and why to use a launch monitor.







3JACK
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby golfingplease » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:59 pm

Would you say, Richie, that Trackman is more useful for driving than iron shots?
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby Ded2Journey » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:57 pm

Richie3,

Great post. I could definitely see that happening. I've been using lm's for 3 years...but i just started to really understand the concepts behind the numbers. I may be in the honeymoon period for sure...but during new England winters it is great to have number to chase!

I have found that utilizing the targeting functions with the launch monitor software has really helped me stay away from chasing numbers. However, I think it is important in understanding my numbers and comparing them to professional numbers.

I just think that tools are meant to be tools, I don't like the idea of limiting them...
"People have always been telling me what I can't do. I guess I have wanted to show them. That's been one of my driving forces all my life." -Ben Hogan
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Re: Healthy Launch Monitor Debate

Postby golfingplease » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:58 pm

Trackman could probably be more useful during the winter time with the crazy cold taking most people's game's out of commission.
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