Photos courtesy of Vertical Groove

Left: mevo and mevo on your phone. mevo on phone courtesy of Flighscope

Right: Swing Caddie

   The Vertical Groove driver that debuted last year is still a one of a kind product. It is completely different from anything golfers have seen in their lifetimes.  Yes, Vertical Grooves.  Not horizontal scoring lines.  They are calling it The Groove, but honestly, they should use both names.

   When you see the photo for the first time, you ask yourself, why didn’t I think of that?  I mean, this could be something.
   The idea for this revolutionary design was the brain child of the late Tony Antonius who holds easily more than 100 patents for golf-related items. One of his claims to fame is something you probably use every time you play golf: the addition of Velcro to the golf glove. If you want to see his patents for yourself there is qwuite the list at http://patents.justia.com/inventor/anthony-j-antonious
   Antonius died before the vertical groove driver was ready for market, but Vertical Groove Golf has continued with Antonius’ vision.

    In theory, the driver should hit the ball straighter at least, that’s what they tell us. 

    John Daly was the first to sign to use it, and Rocco Mediate was second. Perry won the 2017 US Senior Open using it. Within the last year Kenny Perry, Doug Garwood and Tim Petrovic added the driver. 

   Vertical Groove recently added a 3-wood to the mix, and Mark Calcavecchia recently put it in his bag.
   The clubs conform to USGA specifications.  The driver head is 450cc titanium in 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degree lofts, shafts available in Aldila premium grade, NV2K series, with 45.75-inch length as standard.    There are left-handed and right-handed
versions available.  $399. The 3-wood comes with the Aldila NV2K Green shaft in L and A flexes or the Aldila NV2KV Blue shaft in R, S and X flexes ($260).

https://www.vertgolf.com/  

    There are two new, modest-priced, ball flight-trackers that will give you information on your golf shots, almost like Trackman gives the pros. The first is mevo, by Flightscope.  It's a tad larger than a garage door opener, and tracks your golf ball and gives you carry distance, clubhead speed, ball speed, vertical launch angle, spin, height and flight time, and it can transmit the data to your phone or tablet. 

    All you have to do is put a special mevo sticker on your ball (1000 of them for $25) and put your phone in a position to take your swing, and make sure your sticker is pointed the correct direction, according to the set-up instructions. Then hit, and moments later, mevo can spit out your stats on the screen with video of that swing.  That's impressive.

   mevo is – holy range balls — just $499. That’s about the price of a new driver. 

   Is it really any good? According to a story in Morning Read, Bryson DeChambeau used mevo during the U.S. Open practice rounds at Erin Hills.  If it didn’t work, doubtful he’d use it.

    mevo uses doppler radar to measure the clubhead and the ball separately. Maybe the Weather Channel can explain it. (I wonder, will it also do hurricane tracking?)

    Swing Caddie, the second new flight-tracker, has different modes -- practice -- target --and different models.  In practice mode, the SC200 will give you shot distance, swing speed and ball speed.  It will also store data for each club.  Swing Caddie also has a remote that lets you tell the device which club you are using so that your data is separated.   Because it records the ball speed and clubhead speed, it also spits out smash factor. It will also tell you the data like Amazon echo,  Alexa and Google home. 

    There are two modelsof Swing Caddie, the SC200 ($349) and the SC100 ($269). 

    Both the mevo and Swing Caddie devices fit in your pocket or purse, and they have handy, flip out stands so they can be set up nearly anywhere. Only mevo connects to your phone and shows your swing plus the data for it if you are using the dots. Only Swing Caddie talks to you and has a remote.

   Until now this kind of technology had a cost that started around $2500 and went up to $15,000 through Flightscope.  Trackman, another company that is popular with PGA Tour players, goes for $19,000 for an indoor version and $25,000 for outdoors.


Big Data Is the Big Story of 2018 

    Big data has come to golf, measuring everything about your swing and stroke. There's a mini-Trackman-like device or two that you can afford, tablets that read your putting stroke, shoes that measure your weight transfer.  It’s technological craziness. It’s ideas gone wild.  Some of the new products, you just won’t believe. The breadth of categories is astonishing.


Tablet sees and reads your putting stroke

    We all know that putting is a third to a half a golf score.  The better you are, the more important putting is. A scratch player has half his or her score in putts.  That means being able to hit the putt on the right line with the right speed is huge. Now, there's a tablet that can see exactly what you and your putter are doing when you hit the ball. It's called Hole More Putts.

    Hole More Putts is a bit bigger than an ipad. Putting on the top of it will give you instant feedback on each putt and will send that to your cell phone or their on-line member app which can be accessed by computer or phone. It will give you information on face angle, impact point, path, speed and angle of attack. It measures 6000 parameters per second, and it has 68 sensors. That's impressive. 

    Here’s the best part.  Once it sees what you are doing, it prescribes drills so you can improve. So, if several things are wrong with yourstroke, Hole More Putts will pick the worst flaw and give you drills for that because that is likely to  give you score improvement first. Then you can work on the next issue and the next.

    The results of your putting are shown in percentages with 100 being the best. You get fancy charts and graphs.  But it's all a very personalized breakdown of what your putter is doing.

If you visit their web site, you can see samples in the members area demo.  www.holemoreputts.com

Photo courtesy Hole More Putts

Shoes and mats that measure weight shift

  What if your shoes could tell you what's good and bad with your weight shift?  It sounds like something from SciFi, but today it's not.  Now it's all in the shoes.

    The company that makes them is IOFIT, part of a spinoff of Samsung.  Someone, obviously a geeky golfer, came up with the idea of implanting sensors in the footbed of shoes to deliver data on weight transfer.  Then they figured out a way for that data to be sent from your shoes to a tablet or phone so you can see what your feet are doing in a golf swing.  What?  That’s kind of what I thought.  But it's true.

    If you are obsessed with finding out everything about your swing, this is stuff you could never get before, never mind the cost. If you happen to have one of those fire and fall back swings, this will show you that exactly where in your swing you are going wrong.

    The shoes are just under $400.  Each pair comes with software and instructions to hook your “foot data” to your tablet or phone. You can play an entire round of golf and download the data after the round. Or you can work on the range and look at one swing at a time.

    The weight transfer maps look a little bit like the commercials for Dr. Scholl’s custom inserts or like the Weather Channel tracking a storm.  

  I  snagged a couple shots of their tablet readout to show what you get.   See below.  At address, the is supposed to be  similar on the right and left foo and so they would both have a similar weather radar pattern.

    In the backswing, done properly, if you are right handed, you load up on the right side, and you can see that the foot outline color changes so that there’s what looks like heavy rainfall on you right foot and not much on your left.

   Then by the time you get to impact, the rainfall moves to your left foot, and a lot of the weight comes off your right.  You may need to an expert to interpret the charts and all the data perfectly, but it’s there.

    All I can say at this point is beam me up, Scotty.

Example of IOFIT system.

Top left:  weight pattern at address.

Top right:  weight has shifted with backswing.

Bottom left:  impact and weight shift to left side.  

Kathy Bissell has more than 25 years experience as a golf writer and television producer.

Forget Trackman.  Now There's mevo and Swing Caddie.


Vertical Groove Driver, What?

BodiTrak

    There’s also a much more expensive way to measure weight shift.  And you don't need a special pair of shoes to do it.  It’s called Boditrak, which is a sports pressure and force measuring mat that is used by baseball players, basketball players and now golfers. Supposedly BodiTrak tells you whether your weight shift is right for maximum performance in your sport.  Unlike IOFIT, you can take this mat anyplace and use it, but at a cost. 

     Golfers like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Kevin Kisner have all tried the BodiTrak system.  According to the company, Steph Curry has used BodiTrak to understand how weight transfer affects what he does in basketball.

   BodiTrak did make a stab at talking about Thomas’ swing, saying the force is “evidenced by him being on the tip-toe of his lead foot like a ballerina.”  Judge for yourself.  Justin Thomas’ use of BodiTrak is above.

   No matter what the techies say, my guess is that Thomas gets elevated because he has pushed on the ground so hard during the downswing that he flies off of the ground with the force he generates at impact.  Same for Bubba Watson. I mean, when your weight is in the air, they have to say something about it because golfers have levitated off the mat. 

    All kidding aside, if you wanted to have one of these mats, or if your club wants one, the price is $2500 for the smaller size and $3200 for the large.  The software that makes it work is $150/ year or $15/ month.  Naturally, there is support from BodiTrak.