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My GolfTec lesson ... a positive experience! A little earlier this year I’d made a (actually, another) donation to the PGA HOPE program (more info.. https://pgaimpact.org/pga-hope/) but this time it came with a bonus for me - my choice of a free lesson or a free fitting (driver or iron) at a local GolfTec center. Since there’s one about 30-40 minutes from me (depending on Long Island traffic) and figuring there are a few better-known club fitters I can travel to (including Club Champion, Pete’s Golf, True Spec in NYC) and that my golf game can benefit more (waaaay more) from an improved swing, I opted for the swing evaluation/lesson. OK, I know what a few (maybe most) of you are thinking: “Golftec?!? They’re the Natty Light [or White Castle or insert your own pejorative] of golf lessons!” I had also thought of them as sort of a formulaic / cookie-cutter type of chain outfit, not suitable for the serious play-ah. My first exposure to the brand was seeing a sign as I walked into a nearby GolfSmith a few years ago (now permanently closed). So I looked up a little bit about them, including this page … https://www.golftec.com/swingtru … with some details on the swing motion analysis underlying their teaching methodology, and thought what da heck .. the way the latter part of the past season went for me I needed someone to look at my swing! I’ve added an “FYI” addendum at the end of this post with a few more links to add’l info on their teaching process. After I made the donation I received an email with a link to schedule a time, followed by a confirmation back also listing the name of the coach .. as they call their instructors .. that I’d be meeting with. Well, as it turns out - I don’t think I could have gotten paired with a nicer guy who appeared genuinely interested in helping me specifically (maybe the only way he could have been more helpful was if after the lesson he carried my clubs back to the car and loaded them in for me .. hahaha). The Facility… I imagine most GolfTec centers are outfitted similarly; here you enter into a large room with some seating to the right and a long desk with a computer for the coaches and then a putting area behind the desk. There’s a monitor overhanging the putting area and a camera, but not sure what other equipment / system they use to measure your putting aim or stroke; can update in a later post if/when I schedule a putting session. To the left is the first hitting / teaching room (with a door; not an open bay), then the fitting area (does have an open back wall displaying a lot of shafts, etc.) and down the hallway are additional hitting rooms on either side. There’s also a small repair/build room for the fitter. Each room is bright and well-lit - a big plus for those of us with aging eyes who struggle a bit in the very dim hitting bays you typically see at stores. The room is spacious enough so you feel like you can swing freely; has a full ceiling-height and wall-width net with an “aim strip” hanging down; has two large monitors one above the other - the top is for the LM/Sim display and the lower is for the video feed - hanging on the side wall that you face when you set up to the ball (Lefties - note they have a room set up for you, too) and a large stance mat in the center with a light rough hitting strip on both edges. The LM is a ForeSight - the radar-based model; the fitting room has a GC Quad. The ball tray at the back of the stance mat is filled with Callaway Practice balls .. which to me seem good-enough for the intended purpose of working on mechanical elements of your swing (the fitting room has Pro V1s for you aficionados). The motion vest is hanging on the tripod at the left. The row of green buttons at lower-right is for practice sessions for the user to access functions on the LM or video feed (eg. playback). Not in the picture but behind where I'm standing is a chair to set your stuff down plus there's a phone charger cord with 4 different plugs to fit most any smartphone (nice touch). The First Evaluation / Lesson begins... I met Larry, my coach, and the hour long session started with a brief Q&A covering the main parts of any golf game - driving, approaches, short game, bunkers, putting - along with where I rated myself on each, eg. “How many times out of 10 do you hit the fairway?” or.. “How many times do you get up and down when you miss the green?” We decided on full swing approaches as one of the areas to start with and he had me grab my 9i while he strapped on their (proprietary?) body motion capture vest; its data is displayed on the lower monitor so as you’re swinging you can see overlaid on the video feed whatever number of degrees of shoulder tilt or of hip rotation, etc. If the number appears in red then that aspect of your swing deviates too far, negatively, vs the average of all the tour pros they measured. Oh, there are two cameras looking at your swings: one face-on and one down-the-line behind you. A few of the basic principles underlying their teaching methodology is that most amateurs do not turn either their shoulders nor their hips enough in the backswing .. nor tilt their shoulders enough. Also, most amateurs do not keep their arms straight enough throughout the swing - especially going into impact and then the follow-through. And - no surprise! - I fit squarely into the category of “most amateurs” so these were a few of the keys that we started working on. I mentioned to Larry that I’m more interested in developing a “feel” for the proper movements that I could internalize and retain and take to the course, vs trying to achieve a specific number at a specific position. Whether it’s his normal teaching style or not, throughout the lesson he accommodated this request and only used the data to reinforce where “good” should be vs my, well, needs more work.. The First Evaluation / Lesson continues... It wasn’t continually hitting balls with the coach saying only, “turn more” or whatever - it was hit one ball followed by him giving some feedback and/or a demonstration of what he was looking for and/or a look at his computer screen of a pro swing model of what he was trying to get me to do. Or again, in reality what he was trying to get me closer to doing. We also looked at the swing data but just to get an idea of what factors may have contributed to the last hit's success or failure; including what they call azimuth and I took to be the face-to-path angle at impact (could be wrong; don't quote me on that). Then hit again and re-evaluate. This feedback-loop process seemed to work for me - as the lesson went on I started moving better and making better contact (eg. as shown in key swing numbers) and hitting the ball better (eg. resulting ball flights on the sim). We spent a good amount of time working on the takeaway and moving through the backswing, and then a little bit on transition, impact and follow-through. Clearly there’s only so much you want to cram into one session (and only so much this old guy’s brain can absorb anymore at one time) and when I got home I wrote out three pages of notes outlining what we’d covered. And a lesson bonus... In the beginning Q&A one of my bigger problem areas noted is bunkers, so to end the lesson Larry had me work on an “explosion” type shot - wide open face, open stance, wrist hinge, etc. Now, no, none of this is new to me but having a coach guide you through it all made it all a lot easier and I started popping the ball up high with a lot of backspin. Yea! First Lesson Wrap-Up… The evaluation/lesson concluded with a brief review of what we’d worked on, and Larry input some notes into the coach’s interface to the Golftec system along with before and after swing video clips plus a few suggested drills. He then emailed me a link to access it all via the Golftec website or you can download their smartphone app. And then there’s the sales pitch... OK not unexpectedly .. especially after a free hour-long lesson .. the coach becomes a sales person urging you to schedule more lessons and/or practice time and/or a fitting. Various options and packages, at various price points, are presented to you on-screen. The “Game Plan” packages incorporate (some number of) lessons + (some hours of) practice time + a fitting. I didn’t note any specifics but they probably have it all listed on their website. Seemed kinda pricey, honestly, and as mentioned earlier I didn’t really want a fitting plus knowing myself I wouldn’t be driving there and back too often just to practice (I have a net and mat set up in my garage plus if I want there’s an indoor facility less than ten minutes from my house). But given my positive experience with Larry I did opt for additional lessons with him, so I signed up for a lesson-only package of 10. You can switch coaches if you like, but they suggest sticking with the same person to get more consistency from lesson to lesson as he/she will get to know your particular swing weaknesses and strengths. And I liked the guy. I plan on spreading these out over the winter months and practicing in-between. It’s important to note lessons are sold as “Credits” where 1 credit = one ½ hour lesson; so a package of 10 lesson credits can be taken as 10 x ½ hour lessons or as 5 x 1 hour lessons or any other combo you choose as you go along. Post-Lesson Follow-Up... You interact with GolfTec through a browser or through a smartphone app; in either case you log in so it’s only your data, plus it was nice to see that “The Clubhouse” interface/user experience is exactly the same in both places. Your coach is also available by email; although I’m not sure how extensive the level of interaction/coaching is. You can access your last, or any previous, lesson for review - see swing video and analysis, read the coach’s notes and watch any drills .. as brief videos .. he/she may have added to the lesson for your post-lesson practice. You can schedule your next lesson or practice time or, obviously, you can add more lesson credits to your account (or purchase any of their other “Game Plan” packages - which appear to be offered at a small discount for existing customers). In summary... Again, based on my single user experience, but ... given the quality of the facility and the friendliness of the coach and the success of my first lesson I came away with a pretty positive feeling and am very comfortable suggesting anyone who’s looking for a coach and also is near enough to a GolfTec center to go in and give it a try! And .. If you do want to give GolfTec a try... Please consider using my referral link to sign up - we'll each earn a $100 credit! https://gt.golf/8k3DkN FYI addendum - more on GolfTec’s teaching method: Yes - it is largely based on “Here’s what the tour pros do .. and the tour pros are right” school of thought, but - they seem to have performed a reasonable analysis first by measuring several key positions and ranges of motion of the swing movements of [an unspecified number of] tour pros and also of the amateurs who visit their facilities; comparing the average amateur to the average tour pro they can point out exactly where .. and by how much .. the amateur’s swing deviates from the average tour pro’s. You can read and see more details on their swing motion analysis at… https://www.golftec.com/swingtru The pro baseline is used as a starting point for each student’s lesson - for example, during my first eval / lesson the coach determined that (amongst other things, of course!) both my shoulder tilt and shoulder rotation were the worst negative deviations from the tour pro average so we started working on those elements of my swing. * My overall impression is - taking myself as a typical recreational golfer - the objective is not to get you to swing just like a tour pro but to get you to swing more efficiently and more alike to the average tour pro vs like the average recreational player. Here’s a short vid from their blog, “The Scramble”, summarizing their general teaching approach… “3 Keys to Create a Good Golf Swing” https://www.golftec.com/blog/2019/03/3-keys-to-create-a-good-golf-swing And this one highlights a few Golftec coaches talking about common misconceptions around their teaching methods… https://www.golftec.com/blog/2019/12/golf_digest_coaches_talk_misconceptions