Sean O'Hair, who won the PODS Championship in Palm Harbor in March, makes his living outdoors. But he spends his winters in a Philadelphia suburb close to where his wife, Jackie, grew up. That makes playing golf rather difficult, but O'Hair has found a way to keep the rust off his swing without braving the elements.
He has his own golf room, complete with video cameras and software to analyze his swing and a putting area that tracks his stroke and tells him if he is hitting the ball square. The room comes courtesy of CDW, a computer technology company based in Chicago that has recently ventured into golf. It sponsors O'Hair, which is how he got the golf room.
"It's stuff that other players use on a regular basis, but I don't know if they have that type of technology at home," O'Hair told the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. "I don't like to film too much when I'm out on the road because I tend to get too technical. It's a good thing working on your game, especially during the winter when you're making a few changes."
CDW is a technology partner with the PGA Tour and mainly works with its ShotLink project, which measures and tracks distances of shots and putts during a PGA tournament. It does not currently offer in-home technology for the average golfer.
"Only about 1 percent of our business is with the average consumer," CDW spokesperson Clark Walter said. "We work mostly with private businesses, hospitals and schools. Our affiliation with the PGA Tour is improving ShotLink.''
But just because O'Hair gets a sweet setup at home doesn't mean the average golfer is left out in the cold. Here are some ideas for the golfer who wants to add technology to improve his game.
V1 Golf Academy Home 2.0
Basics: For about $40, you can receive a home version of the software that allows you to analyze your swing, comparing it to PGA pros or to your own swing. You film your swing, then download the video to the software. It allows you to see swing plane, head movement and ball contact. You can slow the video, and zoom in and out. The idea is that if you actually see your swing in slow motion, you can see exactly why the ball sliced into the woods.
Pro: The video can be stored and recalled at any time. You can compare swings from different periods to see how it has changed.
Con: Of course, you need to have your own video camera and room to film. And even with video of your swing, it may still take a teaching professional to tell you what is going on.
On the Web: www.v1golf academy.com
Basics: This is for the golf junkie who doesn't mind spending a few bucks on his game. The unit costs $1,000, and it includes a sensing platform that measures club speed and distance of shots. The sensor, which is hooked up to the computer, also shows club angle, swing path, tempo and sweet spot deviation. It includes a net to drive the ball into and a putting green. It also has the ability to simulate play on the Highlands National Golf Course, a 7,393-yard, 18-hole, par-72 championship course.
Pro: The unit provides valuable information for the golfer serious about improving his game. There is also a $599 version that doesn't include the net, putting green and 18-hole layout.
Con: This may be information overload. Does the average golfer really need to know club-head speed?
On the Web: www.p3pro swing.com
Golf Swing Analysis System
This is another computer software system that allows you to break down your swing or putting stroke. Videotaped swings are converted into digital images. The putting feature shows body alignment, shaft and blade alignment and stroke timing. The standard version sells for $47, the professional for $197.
Pro: The software can convert the images into an overwhelming amount of data. Every part of the body is analyzed for alignment, as well as club-head speed, angles and ball launch.
Con: See above.
On the Web: thegolfsystem.com.
The iPhone Birdie
Basics: It seems as if you can do anything with an iPhone, and now a golf feature has been added. For about $19, the Birdie enables users to punch in the golf course they are playing from their database and get yardage, course rating and hole layouts. Score can be kept and it will calculate results for different rules, such as Stableford scoring, stroke play or match play. You can also e-mail scores.
Pro: It provides more information than a regular scorecard. It also allows you to store scores and collect a database of courses you frequently play, which provides easy access to see how you played a course in the past.
Con: For the nontechie, it might just be easier to write the scores down with a pencil.
On the Web: www.apple.com
Rodney Page can be reached at page@sptimes, firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8810.