I wanted to start of this review by listing all the things the GolfSense can do. I then went back and changed this to reflect something the GolfSense cannot do. Probably, the only knock on an otherwise excellent product.
If you are not using iOS/Android 3.1 and above or do not have access to hardware using the 2 dominant Mobile OSs, GolfSense will not work for you. Like me, an early and zealous Windows Phone adopter, this product was a no-go. My wife uses a phone which was used by Churchill to command the English troops in WWII. Enough said!! A trip to my neighbor ensued and an iPad was commandeered.
There are 2 aspects to this product. The actual product, which is a small “rounded rectangle”, and the software which runs this product.
The box looks decent and not cheap.
This is the actual device in its cradle.
Download the GolfSense app from the AppStore/Google PlayStore and follow the onscreen instructions when you run the app for the first time. It is as easy as that.
Setting up the device
The device has a rubber strip on the back which fits around the velcro strap of your glove. Another small admission (I am one of the few golfers who does not use a glove so I had to rummage for one in the bag). The device itself weights only 17 grams which is very light so I don’t think it will interfere with your swing. It is a snug fit against your glove so no issues with the device moving around while swinging. I went through 4 buckets of balls and never once did it threaten to shake loose. I would not venture to say that I did not feel anything but it was not uncomfortable. I had expected the device to go flying over the range but it remained firmly ensconced on the glove throughout.
One this is accomplished, you are set to go. For the technically challenged, here are the steps one more time.
• Download software
• Follow the onscreen instructions
• Strap the device to your glove
• Double-click the button on the device
• The device will calibrate
• You are set
• Yes, you need to charge the device through a USB charger (provided)
If this proves tough, each device comes with an instruction manual that has clear illustrations of each step you need to follow. Remember to keep your phone no more than 4-6 feet away from the device. Bluetooth technology can be pretty finicky!!
Before you start swinging a club, you get to individually pick what club you are going to be using. This feature is a god-send for those who want to keep tabs on which clubs you swing well and which ones you don’t. This could help you focus on certain clubs and improve your shot making with them. Your choices are Driver, 3w, 5w, hybrid, 3-PW, AW, SW. Almost every club in the bag.
The product and the software driving it
The app is surprisingly packed with information, yet easy to use. According to the website, GolfSense can detect the acceleration, velocity, tempo, position and posture of the device and the club by calculating sensor data at sample rates over 1,000 times per second. Using GolfSense Cloud Sync technology, your swing history is easily accessible on any iOS or Android enabled device. By logging into your user account, you’ll be able to sync your history to the cloud as long as you have an active internet connection.
What they tout as a high velocity motion engine inside the software, breaks up your swing into different segments of club position and posture. The result is a highly accurate view of your swing, down to the millisecond.
Once you start swinging the GolfSense your swing is captured immediately on your cellphone/tablet. You can review a ‘head on’ view of your swing; side view, down swing view, back swing view, and a swing plane view so it is basically a 3 dimensional look at your swing. This device measures your swing path, swing angle and also your swing speed. Once I found that I was only swinging my driver at 100mph, I tried my best to start swinging harder. Things got out of hand pretty quickly and I had to dial back to a more manageable 95-100mph zone where I found I was more consistent. The reason I mention this is to highlight how this device helped me find my optimal swing speed.
The coolest feature of this device (for me) was plane comparison. It basically tells you your backswing and downswing planes and how closely matched the two are. It was exposed to me by accident, I was trying to compare two different swings I had made with my 4 iron and I found what I did wrong.
My first swing I made at 80mph (your Driver vs. Iron swing speed is typically a 5:4 ratio) and I hit the ball pretty sweet. I managed to hit 87mph on my second swing but the ball shot off to the right. I immediately went in and checked the plane comparison and found that in my second shot, my plane comparison score was only 23% as compared to 62% on the first one. It also depicts if you have an out-to-in swing or in-to-out swing and whether you managed to maintain the correct club path.
Also, my swing tempo ratio was off. Typically, the pros have a 3:1 ratio. For example, if your backswing takes 0.9 seconds, your downswing should only take 0.3 seconds. This is considered an ideal ratio. Average players can be around 2.1: 1 and still make good contact. If the ratio is too low, then you know you have a jerky backswing or are trying to be too aggressive with your downswing. I was taking my club back too fast and bringing it back equally fast, a recipe for disaster.
The ‘phone in pocket’ feature measures hip rotation and lateral translation of weight through your swing. This feature sounded good to me but I had no idea of how they impacted my game, till I took it to my coach who explained it to me. Another feature that I found incredibly useful was the ‘impact detection’ feature. When this feature is activated, GolfSense doesn’t record your practice swings and only records a swing when you hit a ball. You do not need to manually determine which swings were practice swings and which ones were actual hits. The sensor on the GolfSense is pretty sensitive. I guess it measures the vibrations when the clubhead hits the ball and is able to capture that as a ‘hit’.
There are a lot of other features the device has which only a coach can decipher but if you are a golf-junkie who understands what ‘wrist-release’ of 1005 degrees means then all power to you. You are given a lot of data to work with but it never gets to a point where you feel inundated with needless information.
Does it work?
Unequivocally yes. I would not venture to call it a resounding success but it is one of the best products on the market and for USD 129, you cannot go wrong. This is around PhP 6000 in local currency. A good deal if you are one of those golfers who like to control each aspect of your swing. What if you are one of those golfers who just want to go to the range and hack away? Well, let me tell you, this product will only help you get better. How, you ask?
Let me paint a picture so please persevere. You find yourself on the range hitting ball after ball. Some go straight, some go right, and others go left. You ask the ball-girl to video you on your Smartphone and she does. You review a good swing and a bad one. How do you know what you did right? Was your backswing optimal, was your spine angle optimal, and was your ball placement correct? Can you even compare both swings real-time, at the range, instead of going back home and using software to superimpose both videos and find out what you did right? Well, with GolfSense you can. If you are a frustrated golfer, a good golfer, a better player, this product will help you find out what’s wrong but only if you know how to decipher the numbers thrown at you. It does not have a putting feature but I assume you are not in the market for a device like this to improve your putting. If you are, then there are other options available. If you are in the market for a device that gives you manageable data in an easy to interpret form, then you better look at GolfSense or you will be doing yourself a disservice. Oh! Don’t forget to return the borrowed iPad once you are done with this product.
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