MCGILL: Trackman Technology Boosts Herd Golf Programs
The Word on the Herd -- March 2, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A yellow golf ball was positioned in between a pair of tees, and Marshall University women’s golfer Sarfina Seretharan set up to hit a 7 iron. Her coach with the Herd, Brooke Bellomy, stood to her right along with MU men’s golf coach Matt Grobe.
Bellomy held an iPad in her hands and waited for Seretharan to strike the ball, sending it toward the hilly greenspace. Seretharan started her swing, whipped the club around and finished – seemingly pleased with the results. For confirmation, though, Seretharan checked the iPad, which was synced with the MU golf programs’ new toy, Trackman, to match what she saw with the numbers on the screen.
“If every swing was the best you could do,” Grobe told the sophomore from Malaysia, “That’s it.”
Grobe, the fifth-year men’s coach, and Bellomy, a rookie coach for the women’s program, are grateful for the addition of Trackman, which is analytical technology that touts itself as software offering “pure, precise and reliable data that allows you to dissect and understand the DNA of any given swing.”
What that means is that when Seretharan, or any other Herd golfer, swings the club and hits a ball in the path of Trackman’s radar, it will provide immediate and detailed data related to everything from a ball’s carry distance to speed. In short, when Seretharan felt good about her strike of the ball, she can confirm those feelings with a quick glance at the numbers on the iPad screen.
“You get that instant feedback,” Marshall men’s golfer Alex Weiss said. “The numbers don’t lie.”
The addition of Trackman, made possible by an anonymous donation, has paid immediate dividends for both of Marshall’s programs. The players can use the program in their hitting areas inside the Henderson Center, at the Chris Cline Athletic Complex across the street or at any golf course, including Guyan Golf & Country Club, Marshall’s home course.
“If you look at the best teams in the country, they have one,” Bellomy said of Trackman. “That’s one of the reasons they are the best – they can recruit and they can get better by seeing their numbers. We are standing over there and we can see the numbers for Sarfina and what her best shots are. We can get a consistent shot and a consistent range of numbers to see what we have to work on.”
Seretharan sees the Trackman as a versatile asset to the Herd’s golf programs.
“Especially when we go into winter again and when the weather gets cold and we’re not able to be out here as much, the Trackman is going to help us,” she said. “We can use it indoors and it’s going to give us the same numbers even though we can’t see where the ball ends up.”
Bellomy has challenged her team to use Trackman’s “combine” technology, which establishes games and goals for the players to chase. Occasionally, Bellomy’s team will be in the hitting areas as late as 10 p.m. working through the combine challenges.
On the range or around the green, Trackman can provide that extra insight to confirm what a coach is trying to convey.
“It’s hard at some points to break down a golf swing and tell them what the problem is,” Bellomy said. “But then when the Trackman is spitting out 20 numbers to you and you can see what the professionals are doing and what the best college golfers in the world are doing and what numbers they have, you can compare and see what you have to work on.”
Weiss, a junior from Pickerington, Ohio, has used the Trackman for approximately 10 sessions. He found it especially valuable after an offseason of strength and conditioning. Without Trackman’s assistance, Weiss might not have been as dialed in on his distance gains, but he could see he added 10 to 15 yards of length on some of his clubs.
“I’m big on finding the carry numbers and then kind of analyzing the club path and the club face in order to see the ball flight,” Weiss said. “Those are really important to know because they are going to give you the general direction and then you can hone in on the distance.”
Grobe sees endless benefits of Trackman, from it being a recruiting tool to a way to sidestep inclement weather to helping his golfers learn more about their own mechanics.
“For me I think the most important thing is the kids are starting to learn their swings more,” Grobe said. “They didn’t really realize that their swing came outside to in or to inside to out and they didn’t understand what was going on with the (club) face. They all have great swings but I don’t think they understood what factors of their swings were the most important.
“If anything I think what the Trackman has done for them is they’ve started to learn their numbers and they’ve started to get really good at knowing what, for them, are the numbers they need to see.”
Grobe also echoed Weiss’ sentiments about using Trackman technology to understand gains – and in some cases yardage losses – so the player has the best feel for length with any club.
“They can do that all the way through their bag,” Grobe said.
The Marshall men’s golf team begins its spring season March 10-12 at the Pinehurst Intercollegiate in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Trackman could start showing its benefits as soon as then, but Grobe is excited and thankful about the program’s future because of the technology.
“It’s been amazing what the city of Huntington has done for us, what Marshall has done,” said Grobe, himself a former Herd golfer. “(MU athletic director) Mike Hamrick built the (Chris Cline Athletic Complex), and then it first started going up and I didn’t know how much we’d use it, and it has been instrumental the last couple of years in the winter. Now we’ve got an indoor facility where we can take the Trackman and the Trackman can go into our hitting area and it seems like every year (MU associate athletic director) Jeff O’Malley and Mike Hamrick and the athletic department and our boosters and the city of Huntington are trying to find ways to get our guys better.
“You keep seeing the growth in the program; you keep seeing people who want to see these kids play good and are invested in them,” he added. “When we’re at Guyan the members know how we’ve played. From a Huntington perspective, the outpouring of support we’ve had for our men’s and women’s golf programs has been incredible since I’ve been back.”