How does Trackman work? It may seem like a silly question but there’s far more to it than most people probably realise.
Launch monitors are a huge part of golf these days. We use them for lessons and custom-fittings and often see numbers from tour pros when watching golf on television.
Trackman is the unit most tour players rely on so we spoke with the brand’s UK sales director Michael Malone to dispel some myths and understand better what the data shows us.
Here are 10 things you need to know to save you the embarrassment of asking during your next fitting…
1. How does Trackman work which makes it different to other launch monitors?
“We use doppler radar to track the 3D movement of the club head through the impact zone plus 3D tracking of the golf ball in full flight until landing.
“Our TrackMan 4 utilises two separate radar arrays which track club and ball independently – no other launch monitor offers the dual-radar technology.”
2. How does Trackman work to capture accurate club data?
“We track the club head knee-high to knee-high taking around 4,000 data points in 0.1 second through this arc, then report key club data without the need to put markers on the club head.
“During the collision moment of half a millisecond (0.0005 second), TrackMan is capable of reporting impact data at the exact moment of maximum compression, measured at the geometric center of the club. This ensures ultra-high precision tracking and eliminates error in data reporting.
“Face angle measurements are created using a combination of the club and ball data.”
3. How does Trackman work when using range or premium balls?
“We track the full ball flight ‘real-time’ and tell you what actually happened to the golf ball – then we can use our normalize feature to convert the environmental variables. This means you can hit range balls then find out what a premium ball would do under the same launch conditions.
“There are a number of different settings for different types of range balls. Once you have identified the type of range ball, Trackman can convert the data to premium ball data.
“You shouldn’t switch between different types of balls during a session.”
4. How does Trackman work in different weather/altitude conditions?
“The golf ball is affected by wind, temperature and altitude but we directly measure this. Camera systems have to estimate the carry and make assumptions.
“You can also choose to include or omit the wind effect, or simulate certain altitude levels.”
5. How does Trackman work to obtain spin measurements? What are good spin numbers for driver and iron shots?
“We have a patented method of measuring spin unique to our technology. The accuracy tolerance is 20rpm, so less than 1 per cent on a typical driver.
“Optimal spin depends on club speed and attack angle. Our software can tell any player what their optimal numbers are.”
6. How does Trackman work indoors?
“It requires 3m of ball flight to take measurements. Club data is measured in exactly the same way as it is outdoors. Because the ball-flight cannot be fully tracked, the ball-flight is calculated based on the launch conditions and initial flight.
“TrackMan also integrates with course simulator software which allows users to play 85+ of the world’s best courses indoors.”
7. Why is Trackman so expensive?
“Costs start at under £10,000 ranging to £18,000 for the top end system.
“This includes the 27 club and ball data parameters, the Optimizer fitting tool, skills testing challenges, on-site training, Trackmanuniversity.com certification education and membership and unlimited software installs on IOS and PC.
“All TrackMan units are hand-built at our Denmark HQ to ensure build quality and reliability. We have 80+ development staff at HQ in Denmark working to make TrackMan better every day.
“Another key advantage of radar technology is its robustness.
“A modern radar system contains no mechanical parts or lenses with critical alignments or flashes that need replacements, which results in a much longer life expectancy than other technologies.”
8. How does Trackman work when used by television broadcasters? I’ve seen them suspended above the ground. What data does that give?
“The on-course tour broadcasting setup which records the TrackMan shot tracker requires a different setup with between 1 and 3 Trackman broadcast radars per hole depending on which functionality and data the broadcaster wants to get delivered.
“Depending on setup, the system can measure the ball flight, selected ball data like ball speed, apex height, curvature, but also club data such as club speed. You will see this technology on nearly every tee in the majors next year.”
9. How does Trackman work for putting? And what sort of data is available?
“TrackMan 4 is the only putting analysis system that tracks the entire journey of the golf ball. This opens up some exceptional features like green-reading analysis.
“The new putting analysis measures the putter head, the tempo of the stroke, shaft angle, and the skid/roll of the golf ball. The whole system takes less than 20 seconds to setup and calibrate and doesn’t require any sensor or markers on the putter or on the ball.”
10. How does Trackman work for club golfers? Can they get as much benefit as tour pros?
“Many coaches would say the benefits are actually more significant for the average golfer and high handicapper because they have more room for improvements in club delivery.”
More information can be found on the Trackman website