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Getting better seems simply enough to do. Yet it’s harder to accomplish than you think. Another new year is growing older by the day and many have made resolutions with the best of intentions. Weight loss is often at the top of the list. But finding a few more yards off the tee could be a close second place for many golfers. Each year we start out thinking this one will be different, yet we rarely have a plan or blueprint to follow or guide us to where we want to go. Eventually the best of intentions waiver and we find ourselves back in the original place that led us to consider making changes.

If Santa didn’t deliver that driver that promises a few more yards, it may be time to look in the mirror. By in large, most golfers don’t practice very often or take lessons. Pretty remarkable when you stop and think about it that such lofty expectations are even considered without an effort to achieve it. Golf has been known to be fashionably trendy. Stack and Tilt was popular for a time, however it seems to have been a godsend for chiropractors everywhere. Instructors have also run hot and cold. Sean Foley, Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, Jim McLean, David Leadbetter, etc., have all been touted as oracles of the swing. Golf has been fascinated with the mechanics of delivering the club into position, but it’s essentially been a one-dimensional process. It’s viewed from the outside looking in. Originally it was left to the naked eye to determine what went right or wroserong. Then with the advent of video cameras it was able to capture a swing that could be dissected frame by frame. Yet little if anything has been analyzed from the inside out. Have you ever heard the one about looks can be deceiving? How about you can’t judge a book by its cover?

If you take your car to a mechanic does he assess it merely from the exterior or does he pop the hood to look at the engine as the car is running? Golf addicts and instructors have diagnosed their swings for decades by the equivalent of watching a car pass by. The time it takes to swing a club is over in virtually the blink of an eye. Why do players, even elite ones, position the club incorrectly at times? Even when they know otherwise, it still happens. Golf is a difficult game and how we attempt to correct our faults is often equally mystifying.

Launch monitors have become the equivalent of golf instruction’s comfort food. However, it simply chronicles what happened, not why it happened. Its been said the best houses have the strongest foundations. The same can be said about golf swings. The lower body provides the foundation to balance and in turn delivering the club in a repeatable motion. What changes from one day to the next in any player, even the best of the best that sees a shift or change in ball striking? What causes bad habits to form and why is it so difficult to find solutions to these mystifying if not chronic problems?

Swing Catalyst, a Norwegian company, has taken an alternative approach. The company uses pressure plates to understand what the body is doing during the swing. The company touts that it offers a complete game improvement system for golfers and golf instructors. It also has an app (FREE) that acts as an online portal. Swing Catalyst’s video analysis software represents the ecosystem that connects the golfer to the instructor. Instructors are now able to communicate directly with their students, while students can record their own swings and get a detailed swing analysis directly from the instructor.

The Swing Catalyst sensor plates (Balance Plate and 3D Motion Plate) add an important dimension to golf instruction. It provides the instructor with critical information that will lead to a better understanding of the golf swing, ranging from Center of Pressure (CoP) patterns to accurate vertical and horizontal force mccormickmeasurements, none of which could be determined by the best trained eye or even expensive high-speed cameras. This is the equivalent of looking underneath the hood of a car to understand the performance of an engine. The sensor plate data is synchronized with the video images as well as with data from the most popular ball and club tracking devices (FlightScope, Foresight, Full Swing Golf and TrackMan). This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road, as the say, as instructors can interpret what is happening to a player’s body as they deliver the club during the swing.

The company already has some influential proponents of its program. “Following my philosophy of measure twice, cut once and leave an athlete’s functional fingerprint intact; it’s imperative that the diagnostics and assessments I make equip me with valid actionable insight,” said Cameron McCormick, who Jordan Spieth trusts to oversee his swing. “For this reason I trust in Swing Catalyst to help me see beyond the visible; pairing together high speed motion video with ground force traces and accompanying collision dynamics and shot results they are pushing the boundaries in technology to aid in player development.”

“In my quest to be the best player I can be, Swing Catalyst helps me leave no stone unturned and gives me confidence I’m always working on sound principles. I feel I have also learned what it takes to create speed and power by using Swing Catalyst,” said Justin Rose, Olympic Gold medalist and a Swing Catalyst customer.

“I am always striving to get the most out of my game so when it comes practicing I like to have any and all information at my fingertips, Swing Catalyst gives me all that and more,” said Ian Poulter. “Since using Swing Catalyst I have been able to pin point exactly where in my golf swing I can find some more power.”

poulter“Some of the most important aspects of any effective golf swing -- such as timing, rhythm and ‘using the ground’ -- are often elusive quantities for many golfers,” said Chris Como. “Swing Catalyst is the most powerful technology I have found for getting immediate feedback in order to help a player develop these fundamentals in a way that fits their own unique swing. With its ability to integrate video analysis, radar data and ground reaction force measurements, Swing Catalyst is the complete tool to aid a coach in the training of a player of any skill level.”

Sean Foley is also a believer. “I am constantly striving to learn new and improved ways to maximize the efficiency in a player’s swing. Appreciating the importance of ground forces in the development of an effective golf swing, the Swing Catalyst system is unique in that it allows me to examine pressure-shift patterns and balance; information that I couldn’t ascertain if I were to rely on video alone,” he said.

Mike Adams, World Golf Teacher Hall of Fame member and Golf Digest Top 50 Instructor added, “Every golfer is unique in how they swing the club in time and space. Only by being able to combine high-speed video, swing radar information, and understanding the students’ ground reaction pattern am I truly able to create a swing blueprint for each golfer. Swing Catalyst ability to integrate all three into a real time application gives me the keys to proceed with each student. The traces I get from Swing Catalyst helps me to guide each student into the changes necessary to help them use the ground more efficiently and create more power resulting in longer straighter shots. The Swing Catalyst 3D Motion Plate is the Ferrari of all force and pressure plates."

Wall Street relies on data driven research. Anecdotal evidence or word of mouth, is often more supportive than driving a future investment. Which approach should you take with your golf swing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridgestone Golf is gearing up for a big 2017. Its fate may live or die with none other than Tiger Woods! Who else would you like to share a foxhole with? The company announced today it has signed Woods to a multi-year agreement to exclusively play and promote its golf balls. The only individual to record a run of 683 weeks as the top-ranked golfer in the world will launch his comeback in 2017 with the help of the B330-S ball. After thoroughly testing it against competing models from all major brands, Woods determined the Bridgestone ball provided superior distance and accuracy off the tee for him, as well as optimal spin on shots into and around the green. “After extensive testing I chose the best ball for my game. I like to see the golf ball in a certain window. If I look up and it’s not hitting that window, we have an issue. This ball is reacting, identical with how I want to play. For me, that’s fun,” said Woods.

“Finding the right golf ball is extremely important. It’s an essential part of my equipment, and the Bridgestone B330-S ball is hands-down the best for my game,” said Woods. “Controlling launch and trajectory is critical, and with this ball I feel I have total control to hit all shots accurately. I’m not just here to play – I’m here to win, and the innovative breakthroughs of the Bridgestone B330-S ball can help me do that.

“As of right now, I’m longer than I’ve ever been,” he continued. “I’m about 6 yards longer. Being able to hit one, even half a club into the green is a huge advantage. I was shocked at how stable the ball is. The accuracy and aerodynamics are incredible. I like to shape shots, I like to move the ball, so for me with it being stable in the wind, it’s really nice.”

Woods was also notably impressed with the B330-S performance around the greens. “Around the greens I get it to one hop and stop. I hit some sweet spinners in the back yard, when I was testing. I tested all the golf balls on the market, and traditionally throughout my career I’ve played the spinniest ball. I’ve always been able to take spin off the ball. Balls have changed so much now, they are launching high up in the air and with spin. I’ve always wanted to play low, aggressive, spinny shots. And I’m able to do that with this ball. For me, that’s what this ball does. One of my advantages is I’ve always putted well on greens that are fast, and having a ball that is soft, I’m able to be an aggressive putter. I have some great friends that play Bridgestone and I knew they made a great ball.”

tigerbsg“No one spends more time perfecting their equipment than Tiger Woods, and no one holds their equipment to a higher standard,” said Angel Ilagan, President and CEO, Bridgestone Golf.  “His choice of Bridgestone sends a clear message that our golf balls are superior to all others.”

Make no mistake Bridgestone Golf is out to make some big noise with this deal. Woods should help Bridgestone’s ball business. Regardless of how well or poor he plays, Woods is always big news. If he finds the winner’s circle again (once upon a time a forgone conclusion) will Bridgestone Golf have the resources available to it to divert some of the attention back to the brand? Woods will still have his Nike presence through his apparel and footwear contracts, which to the uninformed eye implies the old Tiger (and his old equipment) is back. Regardless of the initial economics involved in the deal, Bridgestone will need more in reserve (maybe much more) in order to seek the maximum return on its investment. The upside for Woods is he has a chance to make history when he returns to play. Bridgestone is clearly hoping for that to happen and lend a helping hand along the way. However, it will measure the success of the deal based on future sales in a category that features stiff competition. Adam Rehberg, Golf Ball Marketing, Bridgestone Golf, Inc., said the company experienced significant visibility when Woods put the B330 into play at the Hero recently. “Our social present and web site saw significant increases in views and visits. We were under negotiations at the time and really didn’t know what to expect. We had a 300,000% increase in visits to our Facebook page and we didn’t say a single word.”

The downside to the arrangement is if Woods doesn’t play to his expectations or has a health set back. Bridgestone has invested considered time, effort and capital (we can all safely assume) and it will result in it becoming an enormous distraction if Woods doesn’t play well or at all. This will quite likely be a significant part of Bridgestone’s marketing efforts going into next year, specifically that Woods selected its ball versus the competitions. Also that it aligns with its custom fitting message after Woods underwent his own testing to determine it was the best fit for his game.

The deal also signals that Woods and Company are open for business. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there are more deals still to come. If he were to sign with TaylorMade or Callaway, for example, then Bridgestone would see further competition in attracting eyeballs back to its brand. Going forward Woods’ return is exciting on a variety of fronts and Bridgestone is now part of that roller coaster ride. “To be quite honest, we don’t know what to expect going forward,” Rehberg summed up. He isn’t alone!

 

 

 

 

The great Warren Buffett is quoted as saying, “First come the innovators, who see opportunities that others don’t and champion new ideas that create genuine value. Then come the imitators, who copy what the innovators have done. Sometimes they improve on the original idea, often they tarnish it. Last come the idiots, whose avarice undermines the very innovations they are trying to exploit.”

It appears the Great White Shark is running low on new ideas and therefore championing an effort from alternative sources to help him company’s future direction. Decide for yourself:

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