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Pro Lessons: Green Grass or Launch Monitor?


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I’m sure the quality of the pro is the overriding factor - but if given a choice between:

  • a traditional outdoor driving range lesson with a quality pro versus
  • an indoor launch monitor lesson with a quality pro

which would you recommend and why?

My game is far enough off track lately I need more than one session with a good pro. If it matters, it’s probably in my head but I’ve never been very comfortable hitting indoors with/out a launch monitor.

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I saw a Mark Crossfield video where he had said that the best reasons for the launch monitor was to help the coach faster diagnose the problem and also to give the coach ways to win arguments with  the student.  Like yes you feel you’re hitting slices because you’re over the top, but really it’s because your face is wide open, that sort of thing. However my best lessons were not done with launch monitor. I can relate to the hit better outdoors than indoors. 

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I always say outside. A launch monitor will only tell you so much. I think actually seeing the ball flight and being able to relate the feeling of a swing and impact to perceivable results is fantastic. If you can find an outdoor place with a monitor that is fantastic. I will 100% pick hitting balls outdoors.

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Both have their place but only launch monitors like gcquad can show you accurate path and clubface data. To me that’s invaluable, especially if you want to better understand things yourself

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5 hours ago, Middler said:

I’m sure the quality of the pro is the overriding factor - but if given a choice between:

  • a traditional outdoor driving range lesson with a quality pro versus
  • an indoor launch monitor lesson with a quality pro

which would you recommend and why?

My game is far enough off track lately I need more than one session with a good pro. If it matters, it’s probably in my head but I’ve never been very comfortable hitting indoors with/out a launch monitor.

If you can get the best of both worlds (i.e. outdoor session with a launch monitor), that would probably be ideal.

As @jlukes pointed out, having the data can be invaluable to diagnosing and resolving swing issues. Here in the Midwest we don't have much of a choice in the winter, but for me, I've found having tangible numbers to refer to (path, AoA, etc.) actually helps me make changes faster than just seeing ball flight on a range and getting verbal feedback from my coach.

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Depends on whether you want to see ball flight and be able to correlate it to the data and what the coach is pointing out. I would imagine every coach has a launch monitor whether indoor or outdoor they use. How the use it may vary.

I prefer outdoor lessons to se the ball flight and how it changes based on the changes made in the lesson. 

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For lessons, I would prefer to hit off grass with use of a launch monitor if at all possible (best of both worlds).  A local place has some hitting bays that you hit out to the range, so you can see ball flight which is nice, but still would be hitting off mats.

As many have said, I think having some launch monitor info is important.  My fear is always that I get too caught up in the data.  Similar to a Club Champion fitting.  I think it's wonderful as I'm going through it, but afterwards, I think back and would really have liked to see ball flight characteristics compared to my current clubs.  Sorry that's more a fitting tangent, but still holds true with lessons.  If I'm working on a swing change, I'd like to see how that adjustment makes the ball flight look compared to what I'm used to. 

I'm sure some people get so used to see data and being on launch monitors so much that they can translate what it would look like outside, but I am not one of those people.  For the most part, coaches have evolved with the launch monitors as well so they understand what your numbers should look like.  I just don't want a coach who is so worried about what those numbers are.  I'm a fairly good player, but I'm eons from being a professional and I don't need to measure up against that because I will not hit those same numbers.

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Depend on the skill level of the golfer and what you are trying to accomplish. If you struggle indoors then avoid indoor lessons.

Indoors or outdoors launch monitors are valuable tools just like video. The value they provide is how fine the information can be. If you are just looking to improve your swing then you don’t need a launch monitor. If you are trying to fine tune something like face angles or AoA then you must have a launch monitor.

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Done both, been satisfied with both.  I think the teacher matters far more than the venue.

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A launch monitor to me is always better. No pro, no matter how good they are, could ever give you a fraction of the information. I’d take a launch monitor by itself over a coach without one. It’s hard to find the right coach and I’d rather know I’m not just blowing time and money on some cliche swing tips. The trick obviously is having the ability to apply that information.


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19 hours ago, cnosil said:

If you are just looking to improve your swing then you don’t need a launch monitor.

I agree completely with this.  I'd prefer to be outdoors, with good video, and a good instructor.  It came up in a different thread, you can get a lot of the basic information about swing path, face angle, etc, by watching the flight of the ball.  Not the numbers, per se, but you can definitely get a lot of important information  But more important, a good instructor with good video can determine the root cause of your issues.  And by utilizing your own video from practice sessions, you can see if you're accomplishing the things the instructor wants you to accomplish.  A launch monitor has absolutely no way to tell you what's causing any issues, or how to fix it, it merely gives you numbers for your tendencies.

And when it comes to changes, its much more important to start making the correct movements.  That's why we need to make swing changes on the range, where the results don't matter, before we take those changes to the course.  You might hit a dozen grounders in a row, yet still be making great progress towards a needed swing change.

12 hours ago, LeftyRM7 said:

I’d take a launch monitor by itself over a coach without one.

You have no experience, no expertise, to diagnose your own swing faults, whether you have a launch monitor or not.  I agree, not every instructor is good, but you'll do more harm diagnosing your own swing and coming up with your own fixes.  Are your own fixes going to be something other than "cliche swing tips"?

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13 hours ago, LeftyRM7 said:

A launch monitor to me is always better. No pro, no matter how good they are, could ever give you a fraction of the information. I’d take a launch monitor by itself over a coach without one. It’s hard to find the right coach and I’d rather know I’m not just blowing time and money on some cliche swing tips. The trick obviously is having the ability to apply that information.


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I bet you that many coaches can teach and fix without using a launch monitor. Two of my better lessons on the full swing were done with no launch monitor and not even using a nice camera. I went from a low double digit hdcp to a high single digit because of the lessons. 
 

There’s plenty of people on WRX and some here that have used online lessons which don’t use any launch monitors and have improved their swing and their overall game

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You have no experience, no expertise, to diagnose your own swing faults, whether you have a launch monitor or not.  I agree, not every instructor is good, but you'll do more harm diagnosing your own swing and coming up with your own fixes.  Are your own fixes going to be something other than "cliche swing tips"?

Old school golf coaching is incredibly inefficient. Why trust someones eye an opinion when you can have the real data instantly. The technology and information is all there for the taking if you want it. Sure good coaches have their place but it’s not cheap and it’s really like playing the lottery, you can dump a lot of money and get very little out of it. I’ve heard some well respected coaches talk about how behind the industry is as a whole and how unwilling to change it can be.

If I try something and it doesn’t work, I still learn from it and get better. Plus I didn’t pay for bad advice. I think a lot of people have this idea of building the perfect swing when in reality it’s more about learning your swing and tendencies and managing it. How many people talk about playing for years without much improvement and spend gobs of money on equipment and lessons. I have had a few lessons and have certainly gotten a few nuggets out of them, but I’ve also left lessons worse off. Been playing for almost 4 years and my handicap has come down a few strokes every year. Down to a 15 last fall, so I think I’ll keep doing my thing.


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12 hours ago, LeftyRM7 said:


Old school golf coaching is incredibly inefficient. Why trust someones eye an opinion when you can have the real data instantly. The technology and information is all there for the taking if you want it. Sure good coaches have their place but it’s not cheap and it’s really like playing the lottery, you can dump a lot of money and get very little out of it. I’ve heard some well respected coaches talk about how behind the industry is as a whole and how unwilling to change it can be.

If I try something and it doesn’t work, I still learn from it and get better. Plus I didn’t pay for bad advice. I think a lot of people have this idea of building the perfect swing when in reality it’s more about learning your swing and tendencies and managing it. How many people talk about playing for years without much improvement and spend gobs of money on equipment and lessons. I have had a few lessons and have certainly gotten a few nuggets out of them, but I’ve also left lessons worse off. Been playing for almost 4 years and my handicap has come down a few strokes every year. Down to a 15 last fall, so I think I’ll keep doing my thing.

When you talk about cost, it makes me wonder what you pay for an hour with a good launch monitor.  Around me in northern Virginia, its not cheap.   I know it provides data, but simply observing ball flight can get you a significant amount of data as well.  If you're hitting a shot that starts left and fades, you know your swing is out-to-in, and your clubface is aimed right of the path at impact.  You don't need measurements to know that.  And knowing the measurements doesn't tell you anything about the reason you're over the top.

Your second paragraph seems to imply that you expect a swing change to work during the lesson, or at least very quickly.  In my experience, that's not often the case.  Real swing changes may take hours of focused practice to learn and ingrain.  Band-aids, however, seem to work great immediately, bot often don't get to the root of a problem.  Personally, my real swing improvements have come through lessons and hard work.  

We're definitely coming from different places in our golf careers.  I'm 65 years old, I've been playing for over 50 years, and have been a 4 to 6 handicap for the past 4 or 5 years.  I wish you the best of luck with your improvement.  My recommendation for you is to find a good instructor, and look at your swing as a long-term project.  Find the most significant change you need to make, and work on it until you've successfully made the change, weeks or months if necessary.  Then move onto the next important thing. Its a journey.

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When you talk about cost, it makes me wonder what you pay for an hour with a good launch monitor.  Around me in northern Virginia, its not cheap.   I know it provides data, but simply observing ball flight can get you a significant amount of data as well.  If you're hitting a shot that starts left and fades, you know your swing is out-to-in, and your clubface is aimed right of the path at impact.  You don't need measurements to know that.  And knowing the measurements doesn't tell you anything about the reason you're over the top.
Your second paragraph seems to imply that you expect a swing change to work during the lesson, or at least very quickly.  In my experience, that's not often the case.  Real swing changes may take hours of focused practice to learn and ingrain.  Band-aids, however, seem to work great immediately, bot often don't get to the root of a problem.  Personally, my real swing improvements have come through lessons and hard work.  
We're definitely coming from different places in our golf careers.  I'm 65 years old, I've been playing for over 50 years, and have been a 4 to 6 handicap for the past 4 or 5 years.  I wish you the best of luck with your improvement.  My recommendation for you is to find a good instructor, and look at your swing as a long-term project.  Find the most significant change you need to make, and work on it until you've successfully made the change, weeks or months if necessary.  Then move onto the next important thing. Its a journey.

Right now I get Trackman sessions for free through my club champion membership. Which is a pretty big perk for me. I’ve only been on Trackman a half dozen times but it’s enough to see patterns and how my swing has evolved. Most of my lessons were at a higher end club with a respected local pro, at $75 an hour. Last 2 lessons I had he felt my path was too far out to in and had me working this figure 8 motion to get me more in to out. Every time I’ve been on a launch monitor, my path has been zero to slightly in to out. I play a fade typically and my miss is generally a push fade, I have a hard time starting the ball inside my target line so I typicality set up quite open. So right off the bat, I was skeptical. I also know that trying to swing more in to out, I tend to get more behind the ball and hit it fat. In my opinion, my club face control is the issue, and a quick Trackman session proves it. My path doesn’t change much but my face to path can be erratic at times. Now, as you said, it’s possible that I could keep working at it and paying for lessons and eventually I’ll get it down BUT there’s no guarantee that that will even translate into scoring better. There’s a difference between a better swing and more playable swing. It’s all about matchups in the swing. I don’t see how this path change will work with the rest of my tendencies.

Overall my point is you can really go down a rabbit hole to nowhere if you’re not careful. If you’re going to pay for lessons, I would much rather have it based on data than someone making an educated guess. Coaching is very much trial and error, data and technology just make it extremely more efficient. If my coach had a launch monitor, he could then prove what my path/face was really doing and then show me the results post change. A simple exchange like this that takes 20 minutes could be weeks of lessons without the monitor.

I’m not into the idea of building a swing by hitting certain positions. Im much more about learning my tendencies and how/why they work for me, which in turn will make me better suited to make adjustments. It’s easy to say, oh you’re an early extender, you have a chicken wing, you have too much shaft lean. But the trick isn’t in fixing these perceived issues, it’s understanding why you do them and the sequence of events that happens to make it all fit together.


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5 minutes ago, LeftyRM7 said:

Coaching is very much trial and error, data and technology just make it extremely more efficient. If my coach had a launch monitor, he could then prove what my path/face was really doing and then show me the results post change. A simple exchange like this that takes 20 minutes could be weeks of lessons without the monitor.

I’m not into the idea of building a swing by hitting certain positions. Im much more about learning my tendencies and how/why they work for me, which in turn will make me better suited to make adjustments.

As you mention the data isn’t for the coach it’s to show the student what the coach is doing and why. Video and or a coach no has a good eye can spot exactly what a student is doing and based on knowledge of sequencing what the body is doing the coach makes adjustments on setups and movement patterns. The trial and error part is figuring out what feel/thought works for the student and how that student can understand and implement the change.

A good coach isn’t teaching positions because those aren’t static movements but happen based on the sequencing and what the student is doing especially in transition and the downswing which happens very fast. Most good coaches have a range of where a student should be within those positions in the swing. 

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5 minutes ago, RickyBobby_PR said:

As you mention the data isn’t for the coach it’s to show the student what the coach is doing and why. Video and or a coach no has a good eye can spot exactly what a student is doing and based on knowledge of sequencing what the body is doing the coach makes adjustments on setups and movement patterns. The trial and error part is figuring out what feel/thought works for the student and how that student can understand and implement the change.

A good coach isn’t teaching positions because those aren’t static movements but happen based on the sequencing and what the student is doing especially in transition and the downswing which happens very fast. Most good coaches have a range of where a student should be within those positions in the swing. 

Yep,  launch monitors are evidence that your coach uses when you don't believe him.  Like thinking your swing is out to in because you slice but the launch monitor shows you are in to out and you have a club face issue. 

Positions are technique development.  Figuring out the feels and making adjustments is skill development.     Instructors are better than a launch monitor at telling us the skills we should be developing.  The better the player the more the skills become more fine tuned.   I don't need a launch monitor to start the ball far right, medium right, and close to the target line.   But at some point when we are talking a few degrees because I want to hit a 5 years draw,  a 10 yard draw, and a 15 yard draw then we need a launch monitor.  

Launch monitors/simulators are great for indoors when we can't get to the course provided they show the club and ball data and tell us how far we hit the ball.  

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3 minutes ago, cnosil said:

Yep,  launch monitors are evidence that your coach uses when you don't believe him.  Like thinking your swing is out to in because you slice but the launch monitor shows you are in to out and you have a club face issue. 

Positions are technique development.  Figuring out the feels and making adjustments is skill development.     Instructors are better than a launch monitor at telling us the skills we should be developing.  The better the player the more the skills become more fine tuned.   I don't need a launch monitor to start the ball far right, medium right, and close to the target line.   But at some point when we are talking a few degrees because I want to hit a 5 years draw,  a 10 yard draw, and a 15 yard draw then we need a launch monitor.  

Launch monitors/simulators are great for indoors when we can't get to the course provided they show the club and ball data and tell us how far we hit the ball.  

Exactly. Stick an alignment rod in the ground and work on starting the ball left or right of it. The instructors I’ve used in DC area over the last 6 years all used their eyes to watch my ball flight and what I was doing. They used video to show me what was happening and why I was doing things based on how my swing was causing movement patterns. Two never used the launch monitor of which one never even brought it out or even considered putting me on the camera/sensor system he had. He used the video and his swing knowledge to give me drills to help change my movement pattern and used the alignment stick to get me to work the ball in a certain direction. The first guy I took lessons from what the same way. He used the monitor only to relay where I started and what the numbers looked liked due to the changes.  The last person I did an in person lesson with showed me my swing in video and where I needed to make a small change in wrist/hand movement and why the flight and direction I was seeing was happening. She had me work a drill at shaft parallel and into impact. Then showed me the numbers for race and path afterwards and how the improved as a result and then when the swing was put into action the way the ball flight and consistency in contact had improved.

 

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Where I'm at with my game now, I'd prefer to be outside if it's an either/or situation. 1) Sometimes a golfer's swing can change relative to the environment and I've personally experienced this before. 2) As much as I want to see numbers, that's not how I play golf. I want to make sure start direction, shot window, and turf interaction are good just to name a few.

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