Jamie Donaldson: AimPoint - What's it all about?
My career in golf was turned on its head several years ago when I was asked by a group of students for advice on reading greens, ideas that would enable them to develop the art of surveying a putt, judging slopes, adjusting pace accordingly and generally becoming more competent on the greens.
I went home and searched the internet for ideas only to find there was actually very little good information on what is, obviously, a hugely important part of the game.
What my research did turn up was some fascinating insight on a coach in New York, John Graham, who was teaching a new method known as ‘AimPoint’. I’d never heard of it and so I did some more digging.
The story, it turns out, is a good one. Back in 2004, Mark Sweeney, a com- putter software wizard from Texas, had been watching golf on TV when it occurred to him how cool it would be if it were possible to produce a graphic showing the line to the hole before the player actually set the ball in motion.
Sweeney set to work and developed a 3D laser scan that could plot every slope, every nuance of a green, enabling TV producers to run the graphic – a ‘shot tracer’ for putts.
So smart is the technology behind all this that in the last six years the AimPoint graphics on Golf Channel coverage in the States have been accurate to within a 32nd- of-an-inch, with a 1% error rating.
The success of the project taught Sweeney that putting was a science, that it is predictable, and he set about figuring out how to apply those same principles to coaching.
It was around this time, in 2010, that I invited Mark to meet me in Cambridge, keen to explore what my experience as a PGA coach might offer in terms of creating a system that would help ordinary golfers.
Between us, we took a very technical system and watered it down to offer a practical solution to all golfers. In fact, the ‘Express’ read, which is what we use today, was originally designed to be so simple we could teach it to kids – and it is this ease-of-use that has made AimPoint so popular.
AimPoint is a game-changer. I honestly believe that, and I’ve seen the results at first hand working with world-class players such as Adam Scott, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lydia Ko, Stacey Lewis and dozens of other golfers who play this game for a living.