Matt S. Craig is a PGA.com intern and a Digital Sports Production student at Ball State University.
What is TrackMan and how does it work?
Published: Sunday, July 03, 2016 | 5:23 p.m.
In 2016, TrackMan technology is all over the golf world.
Operating in 12 countries and sold in more than 40, TrackMan's technology is a staple of golf broadcasts on every major network. Over 150 PGA Tour players rely on it to fine-tune their game, and countless more teaching professionals are finding it to be a game-changer for their lessons.
It's an undeniable phenomenon, but what exactly is it? And where did it come from?
Fourteen years ago, TrackMan was just an idea. Dr. Klaus Eldrup-Jorgensen was an exceptional golfer in his youth, even playing in three European Tour events as an amateur, but he noticed golf training and instruction hadn't evolved since his playing days despite massive improvements in technology.
The idea began to take shape when Jorgensen joined forces with a radar engineer named Fredrik Tuxen. The TrackMan company was established in 2003, and the next few years were spent developing the product. But the question remained: could the doppler radar technology Tuxen had been using to track missiles and bullets be adapted for golf?
Evidently, the answer was yes. On his first sales trip, Jorgensen made pitches to TaylorMade, Nike, Mizuno, Callaway, and Ping. On his flight back to Denmark, he received five offers.
The TrackMan started being used on the PGA Tour in 2006, but it took a while to catch on. When 2010 came around, there were still only 20-30 Tour players using them, according to Jorgensen in an interview with the Golf Channel. The company only had about 20 employees.
But over the past six years, TrackMan has seen explosive growth. More than 350 professional players carry a TrackMan with them, and the company has expanded to over 120 employees. Today, having the technology in the bag is practically a necessity for any top player.
Golf broadcast teams on every network have found uses for the TrackMan too, as the product helps show information like ball speed or ball-flight apex instantly as the action unfolds. In addition to golf, TrackMan technology has spread to baseball, specifically to all 30 MLB ballparks and over 80 minor league parks.
But what makes it so revolutionary?
Let's look at the TrackMan 4, the company's newest product. It uses dual-radar technology to capture 27 data points about both club and ball. These range from the most simple stats like carry yardage and clubhead speed all the way to smash factor and dynamic loft.
Essentially, every single facet of the golf swing is quantified by one machine about the size of a laptop that is positioned behind the golfer. There are no attachments or extra equipment necessary for use. The device has a built in HD camera that can record the player's swing which can then be played back on phones, tablets, or computers via bluetooth connectivity with statistics overlayed on the video.
The hardest part of using the TrackMan is being able to decipher the abundance of data, which is why it is primarily used by professional players and teaching pros only. However, TrackMan does offer a complete online training program that can make anyone TrackMan certified.
But you might want to think twice about buying one of these bad boys and plopping it in your backyard.
The TrackMan 4 comes in at $19,000 for the indoor model and $25,000 for the outdoor, making it safe to assume that not too many casual golfers have one for themselves. If you have a spare $50,000 lying around, they'll even install an indoor simulator for you using the technology.
Fortunately for golfers like you and I, more and more golf clubs are acquiring TrackMan devices for their lessons and they can be located here.