RoboGolfPro To The Rescue
Swing harder. Don’t swing as hard. Keep your head down. Turn your hips more. Turn your hips faster. Swing the club. Swing the handle. When it comes to fixing my golf swing, I’ve heard it all.
The first time I saw a video of my own swing it was more shocking than hearing a recording of my own voice. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth ten thousand words.
A robot, however, is worth even more.
On a recent trip to Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, I was introduced to RoboGolfPro, a swing training system that allows golfers to feel their ideal golf swing. “Swing the handle” doesn’t mean nearly as much as a robot whose arms are guiding my backswing, and therefore showing me what “swing the handle” really means.
“The RoboGolfPro is a great tool, because it turns what I put into words into a feeling,” said AJ Avoli, the director of instruction at La Costa. “Students can feel what I am saying instantaneously.”
The RoboGolfPro is not to be used alone. For those experiencing it for the first time, you do so with the guidance of a trained instructor, who is able to take your basic qualifications (height, approximate swing speed, natural swing path) and program them into the computer. That’s when the magic happens. The robot configures the best possible swing for your body, taking into account your current swing.
No matter your level of experience with the game, you’ll feel like a fool at first. An experienced golf writer who jumped on the robot before me said he felt like his robot-guided back swing looked insane. It didn’t. It made him look like a pro. I wanted the next turn on the robot immediately.
As you approach Robo (he and I are now on a nickname basis), you grip what looks like a simplified version of a golf club. Directly in front of your line of sight is a monitor where you can watch yourself in action (remember, picture… thousand words…). Then the robot goes to work.
Pro tip? Stretch first! The robot’s much-improved version of your golf swing will have you using and stretching muscles in ways you may never have before. I learned immediately that I could afford to bring my backswing, including my hands and arms, much further back than I normally do. And my follow-through extension, well that was completely rebuilt. Golf writer who went before me was right. I felt ridiculous. But when I looked in the monitor and on video after, my swing looked great! Thanks, Robo.
But the RoboGolfPro is not a miracle fixer. Despite my hands on his club, the robot could not force me to keep my head down, or guide my hips to turn properly. That’s what the accompanying PGA professional is there for. Once the robot gets your hands and arms working properly, an instructor is able to better assist with the rest of your swing issues.
“The robot can help identify your swing faults,” said Scot Nei, CEO of RoboGolfPro. “It can help you feel and experience what a ‘perfect’ golf swing feels like. But it is just one part of a learning golf experience.”
There are several ways to learn on the robot, including feeling what it does, like I did, or gripping your own golf club and mimicking what the robot does, a great alternative for visual learners. And while it’s probably not crucial to rebuilding your golf swing, there is a novelty setting that allows you to feel swings programmed into the computer, which include those of Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and yes, even Tiger Woods, whose pre-1997 swing and post-back problems swing are both programmed into the machine.
As soon as you step off the machine you are encouraged to go right to the range. Muscle memory still in effect, I hit a few balls with my 8-iron and saw improvement with my distance right away. I was just missing my reminder to keep my head down.
So how can you take advantage of this robotic experience? Right now, there are only 30 RoboGolfPros in existence, and they cost $150,000 a pop, so you’re probably not buying one for your garage. In Southern California, however, we are lucky to have one at La Costa’s Golf Academy, where you can sign up for a private lesson with Avoli or Nye and experience the robot yourself. Learn more here. There is also a RoboGolfPro at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy up north.