So, it's finally summertime and you decide your golf game needs a new driver.
Fortunately, the billion-dollar golf equipment industry knows your itch well.
They slap on a new name, tweak the engineering specs on a club a little, roll out a new model and they get the public to bite. It's a feeling that you just must have the latest technology. Folks who sell stuff bank on it.
If you really want to bite hard, try RoboFit, a division of Uinta Golf. It is the sport draped in applied science at the facility at Golf in the Round at 580 W. 300 South here in Salt Lake City.
Once there by appointment, like at the dentist's your swing can be tested and applied against a vast database of almost every golf club made.
Once tried, a computer spits out a spreadsheet with so many specific details it'll make your head feel like it just left the tee.
First, your swing will be tested using Trackman, a Doppler radar unit the PGA Tour uses on TV broadcasts many weekends to announce club head speed, ball spin rate, carry, distance of the pros.
From the time your tee shot leaves the club until it stops rolling, this piece of technology gobbles up data, everything from how far off center you hit right or left, club speed, ball speed, ball spin rate, if the shot was off the heal or toe, inside or outside swing planes, type of blow delivered (descending versus ascending), smash factor (ball speed divided by clubhead speed), launch angle and the angle at which your shot descended, thus affecting roll after carry.
Second, you'll be matched up with clubs the computer predicts will get the most out of your body and limbs. And, chances are, you can hit all of them. And it will tell you from there which ones actually reacted best to your missed hits and your on-the-screws shots.
Why is all this stuff meaningful?
Because it's all about performance, and anybody who knows golf will tell you technology does matter. Hit it high or low? A shaft is the engine and can make a huge difference. And if you tweak things like loft, shaft, grip, face, tip speed, it can significantly impact not only distance but accuracy.
Someone once said knowledge is power.
This RoboFit exercise provides the knowledge to make a proper decision based on science.
But if you don't care about a few extra yards left, right or down the fairway this isn't for you.
But for others, they eat this stuff up, anything to get an edge. And they'll pay for it. A RoboFit session costs $100 per hour and could include driver, irons and putter, and 25 percent is applied toward purchase of equipment.
One of the testers is John Cluff, who has spent a dozen years in the business and even toyed with finishing the PGA training before he just plain started working in golf, including giving lessons.
It all starts with a robot, said Cluff. Why invest in it when every manufacturer has tested their equipment?
"Each individual manufacturer tests their clubs the way they want to test them. What we do is take all the manufacturers and test their clubs on a level playing field, to see how they perform."
Armed with that knowledge, RoboFit applies all this information from every brand of club to how an individual player swings at the ball and what the ball does after struck. This is determined by swings on a control club and a test club, which delivers a baseline of exactly what is going on during a person's golf swing.
Compare this data with RoboFit's deep knowledge base and Cluff will, with great confidence, match a golfer's swing attributes with the top 10 clubs that maximize his/her individual game regardless of brand. He can rank them in order. He can get you 10 more names, ranked in effectiveness suited to your game. He can get you 20, 30 or whatever your heart desires.
Then you can hit them. Most are on hand for testing.
Having an independent-minded tester and a computer database devoid of bias with no ties to a particular brand, you are presented with a list of clubs that you can really marry. Some may be brands you've never heard of. Others are the main sticks, Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade, Cleveland and Titleist.
"Every shaft manufacturer is engineered differently," said Cluff.
One shaft labeled as a stiff shaft may be a regular in another brand. A regular shaft in another brand might be a senior flex in another.
You may or not be able to afford a change. But you'll know.
It is quite impressive, and techno-nerds who golf can have a field day.
This RoboFit may not be for every golfer, but having a computer chip explain why you do what you do and then reveal what other weapons in your hands can do to change it is a great innovation.This game never changes, yet it will never be the same.