Golf lessons can be a frustrating investment. Even after a few, things often get worse before they get better and sometimes it seems like things don’t get better at all. To cap it off, it can take months for a swing change to be engrained to the point where it happens naturally. Coaches often talk about the difference between feel versus real and it’s part of the reason why some golfers don’t improve as quickly as they could or should, because what they feel they’re doing in their practice and what they’re actually doing is very different.
But there’s a new training aid set to change all this. It’s called the RoboGolfPro and while it has been in use in the United States for a few years, the first has recently hit UK shores at the FairWeather Golf Academy in Camberley, Surrey. It is here we meet Californian Nate Weidner, the director of instruction and RoboGolfPro operator that was so blown away by how fast the results were using the contraption, he wanted to share it with more golfers further afield.
Engineered in Germany and with a price tag of a mere $150,000, this intimidating looking device was the brainchild of PGA Tour player Scott Nei, who was frustrated by his lack of improvement under numerous instructors. He saw an initial prototype at the PGA Merchandise show and while it wasn’t working, he loved the concept. Now fully developed, it can boast PGA Tour players Bryson DeChambeau and recent winner at Pebble Beach, Vaughan Taylor, as proud users.
How does it work?
The RoboGolfPro can essentially move the club in virtually any direction, the most commonly used being a completely neutral swing plane. Golfers that use it, therefore get the feel for what the ‘perfect’ golf swing feels like. They can also see themselves moving, as while using the RoboGolfPro there is a screen at ground level providing the visual feedback to match what they feel. The robot can be programmed in different ways, to either over correct a fault or, for a bit of fun, to feel what it’s like to swing like a Tiger Woods or the unorthodox Jim Furyk, to name just a few.
A lesson on the RoboGolfPro starts like any other. Golfers hit balls in the indoor simulator on Trackman for the instructor to see where your problems may lie. They then tailor a programme based on your height, age, flexibility and swing for you start with. The RoboGolfPro is not there to replace the role of the coach, merely to quicken the transition from old to new.
Using the RoboGolfPro is simple. Take hold of the grip, assume golf posture and it begins slowly and in stages, going to the takeaway then pausing, halfway back, top of backswing etc. It then switches to a continuous movement before gathering speed to the point where you’re swinging at around about 70 per cent. The key is getting as many repetitions in as possible. The more you engrain the new feeling, the more likely it is to be repeatable on another day out on the golf course.
When you step back onto the mat and make a swing for the first time after using the robot it is a surreal feeling. The club naturally swings in the way the robot programmed for you because the muscle memory has taken over; it’s almost impossible to swing in any other way other than on plane like the robot programmed. This feeling wears off gradually with every swing but the residual effects were still there in the hours after my lesson, so it’s ideal to go work on it straight away if you can to really engrain your improved action.
What it doesn’t include is shaft rotation or clubface control. The grip is free-spinning in the robot’s hold and so it takes time to match the squaring of the face with the new swing action, but there are plans to incorporate this into future models. Lessons using the RoboGolfPro start at £200 and you can book them at www.fairweather.golf