It is hard to believe today that there was a world of golf instruction, club fitting and TV viewing before Trackman! It was a pioneering device which changed the world of golf forever. But where did it all start, how did it revolutionise golf and what developments went into the latest Trackman 4? Let us rewind…
The first trackman was launched in 2004 and was the first unit in the world to track the full flight of the golf ball. Danish brothers Klaus and Morton Eldrup-Jørgensen came up with the idea of tracking golf ball flight through a radar system, which would revolutionise practice, club fitting and our understanding of ball flights. They met with Denmark’s leading radar company who specialised in tracking missiles, to pitch the idea of a golf system. The defence contractor was not interested, however one of the radar scientists in the meeting, Fredrik Tuxen (a keen, 5 handicap golfer) saw something in the idea. He quit 2 weeks later, and they began brainstorming ideas of how they could make this idea a reality.
Two years after Fredrik joined the brothers, a working model was finally ready to present to golf’s major manufacturers. The best part, each manufacturer they presented too had a team of engineers trying to develop a golf ball tracking technology… and had come nowhere! So, when presented with a working model, they were astounded.
The first Trackman model cost was rumoured to be 6 figures.
Prior to trackman’s tracking technology, most of golf’s major manufacturers would use a “spotter” who would be on the range and would laser back to the hitting area and tell the engineers how far the ball had gone. One of the manufacturers had even installed a microphone system under the same to try and detect the balls first bounce through sound.
2 years after the first working models of Trackman, Fredrick believed the radar system could also track the club. Tracking the club was also a gamechanger in the golf world and would later disprove theories of coaching manuals and PGA guidelines for years to come. Prior to club and ball tracking, coaching manuals were devised from tour players and observers of the game who would see or feel what was happening when they swing. However, we know that feel does not always relate to what is happening!
Now Trackman was tracking the club through impact and the subsequent ball flight, the ball flight laws that were traditionally taught turned out to be wrong. The previous belief was the path of the club (in to out, out to in) dictated were the ball started and the face at impact dictated the curvature. However, this was disproved through super slow-motion cameras and Trackman’s technology, it was exactly the opposite of what was previously thought and taught!
Other popular club tracking stats were proven wrong and contrary to previous teaching methods. The relationship between angle of attack (the upward or downward attack of the club head at impact) and dynamic loft (loft at impact) was found to increase or reduce back spin, which changed the way we thought about the driver swing.
Hitting up on driver does not mean you add more loft and if you could achieve a higher angle of attack with less dynamic loft, would equal less spin and further drives.
These findings had a hugely significant impact on the next generation of teachers and golfers in how we could not just understand why the ball flight was like it was, but also, we could finally measure it and go about fixing it!
The latest model of Trackman4 has a dual radar system, which can track the club head and ball independently with much more accuracy. In the latest firmware updates, the radars can be paired with the internal camera to further enhance club head tracking and provide more parameters such as impact location.
Where will it go next?
If we knew the answer to this question, we would be selling it for a lot of money! Time will tell and we wait the next pioneering machine…