I had the opportunity to personally demo the new FlightScope golf ball tracking system at the Sun ‘n Air Golf Center in Danvers recently.

FlightScope is a new technology that is similar to the Doppler radar system that was originally developed to track missiles. The FlightScope radar system is integrated with a laptop computer and tracks the following characteristics of a golf shot. Carry distance, ball backspin and sidespin, club head speed, ball maximum height, elevation angle along entire trajectory, ball velocity, ball launch speed, launch angle.

There is also a game mode where golfers can design contests and the computer will award points for distance and accuracy.

Once a golfer hit a shot, all the information above gets fed into the computer to tell a golfer what’s going on with each of their shots.

While there are several uses for the technology, the three main benefits of the FlightScope is to demo new equipment to see how different clubs and technology produce shots with “your” swing – To test your current equipment to see if it’s producing the proper results – and for instruction so golfers can learn what a typical shot should look like, and how their swing speeds and equipment affect their current shots.

I performed a driver comparison with 3 drivers; my current Taylor Made 200 Steel (8.5 degrees), A Cobra 440 (9 degrees), and a Titleist 905t (9.5 degrees). I took 3 shots with each driver and then the computer program compared my data and produced an average for each driver. The results were as follows…

ClubCarryClub speedBall speedLaunch AngleBackspin

While my distance with the 3 clubs was pretty similar (even with the old school Taylor Made), there were some noticeable differences. Ideally, the proper launch angle for a Driver is roughly 12 degrees; this is the angle similar to what a javelin thrower might want to give himself the best chances of carrying the maximum distance or what Tom Brady might subconsciously use to throw a 60-yard hail mary!

My Taylor 200 with a launch angle of 7.2 was clearly producing shots that technically were too low. The Cobra, while not increasing my distance, produced a much lower ball backspin, which will increase the carry when my ball hits the fairway and ultimately the lower backspin may produce a longer shot when the ball stops rolling. The Titleist produced my best launch angle (still short of 12 degrees) but produced a slightly higher ball backspin than the Cobra, but I was able to get 5 more yards of carry while swinging 4 mph slower. The increased carry was the result of a better launch angle!

There are many factors that go into these numbers such as head size, shaft flex, contact point, swing speed and until you have a chance to demo different clubs and see the results, it’s difficult to understand what equipment might be right for your swing.

The FlightScope can be used by booking a time (like a private lesson). Right now Sun ‘N Air has three days per week with times available and customers may call the shop or book in person. If those times don’t work they will try to find a time that does. A FlightScope session is $75/hour and $40/half-hour. That time can be divided up and used anyway the customer would like (club fitting, club calibration, practice session, or club comparison). Basically, a customer buys the time on the machine with the trained staff. Based on what they want to get out of it they would make recommendations on what type of session would be best. Customers may also deduct $25 off a session fee with a purchase of new club(s) at Sun 'N Air. Sun ‘N Air is also planning to have the FlightScope set up during some of their internal demo days as a free demonstration.

For more information visit www.sunairgolf.com

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