Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – It’s a teaming up of athletics and academics for the Central Michigan golf team and the university’s physical education department.
And the benefits to both should be clearly evident in short order.
CMU coach Cheryl Stacy is putting her players through their paces on TrackMan, a state-of-the-art launch monitor that utilizes Doppler radar to measure myriad factors with regard to the swing, distance and ball flight, among others.
“It’s kind of a game changer because it’s the best technology in golf,” Stacy said as she watched her players swing under the watchful eye of the TrackMan at the team’s indoor practice facility at Mount Pleasant Country Club. “It’s kind of a win-win situation because we both benefit from it.”
The TrackMan was purchased last summer by Kevin Fisher, an assistant professor in the department of physical education and sport.
“The TrackMan produces a lot of data and we want to take that information and use if for future studies that we may design in the motor learning lab,” he said. “The test is standardized – amateur players to elite players take the same test. That’s kind of nice because then you can compare results across domains.”
The Chippewas are in the midst of a 10-week monitoring period – referred to as a “combine” -- after which Fisher will gauge their development using numerical data measuring club and ball speed, spin rate, smash factor, angle of attack, the height of a given shot, club path, carry yardage, total yardage and many other factors.
The TrackMan displays for the player how close his or her ball comes to the target and, using the data, Stacy is able to analyze her players’ strengths and weaknesses and then design a practice plan for improvement.
Senior Natalie Johnson has been through weekly sessions on TrackMan over the first three weeks of the semester. Using the combination of TrackMan-provided data and Stacy’s experienced eye, Johnson has a plan that, she hopes, will help her produce more consistent results beginning next week when the Chippewas open the spring portion of their schedule with the Women’s Mid-American Match Play Challenge at Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
“It has showed me that I have been taking the club outside and I now know some drills that’ll help me bring my club path back correctly so I am not pulling it or slicing it,” said Johnson, a biomedical sciences major who carries a 3.96 grade point average. “It has been very helpful. … I think it could definitely take a couple strokes off each round because it is more than just video; it shows the numbers of everything you’re doing, and I am definitely a numbers person.”
TrackMan is widely used by touring professionals worldwide, and its data is a staple of televised tournament broadcasts. Stacy said it a perfect complement to the visceral side of the game.
“You are still playing a game and have to remember to visualize your shots -- see it, feel it, do it,” she said. “I think if you get the combination of the two that’s when you’re really going to get good.”