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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hope springs eternal with swing of club

By WAYNE MILLS

Putting Around

It’s another year, another spring and another golf season. Finally golfers and golf courses got a break with the weather this year that led to some of the earliest course openings in history.

Every golfer believes, at this point, that this will be the year they move to a new level whether it’s breaking 100, 90 or 80.

Maybe those off-season workouts, new irons, new driver or new putter will do the trick. What I’ve found is those things might help for a while but if you keep putting the same old swing on it, the odds of improving substantially are pretty small.

The greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, always started his season the same way and if it was good enough for him, it is good enough for any other golfer. Jack used to go see his instructor, the late Jack Grout in Columbus, Ohio, the same man that taught him since he was a boy.

They went right back to the beginning working on the fundamentals of grip, setup, stance, takeaway and turn. Jack felt that would set him up for the season and avoid having bad habits become ingrained as they often do. Getting set up the right way at the beginning of the season will afford the greatest chance of improvement.

Going to see a golf teaching pro who you’ve worked with in the past and someone who you are comfortable with is most likely the best move, but if you are open to trying some of the new technology then I would recommend getting a lesson or series of lessons with a certified K-Vest teacher.

I’ve been hitting golf balls for 32 years now and taken my share of lessons from pros but it wasn’t until last fall when I got introduced to the K-Vest that I truly understood what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. I went to see local teaching guru Seth Dichard at his indoor studio in Tyngsborough, Mass., looking for some of his fine insight into the golf swing. After the usual few swings and a few comments about grip and stance Seth asked if I might want to go on the K-Vest system. Being somewhat desperate, I said sure.

K-Vest, whose headquarters are right here in Manchester is a revolutionary wireless biofeedback kinetic swing efficiency analyzer that was designed in conjunction with the highly-regarded Titleist Performance Institute, a biomechanics golf fitness based company.

The golfer is outfitted with three Bluetooth wireless sensors; one on the lead hand, one on the pelvis and one on the upper chest. After a brief stance set up and baseline calibration, the golfer takes a few swings that are recorded by the instructor on a laptop computer. The K-Vest captures 3D motion and high speed video simultaneously.

There are multiple screens that offer analysis of the swing. The first one is a bar graph that shows in color coded lines the hands, chest and hips in the sequence that they took place. It then can be compared to the swing sequences of tour level golfers to show the comparison. There is a proper sequence going back and a proper sequence going through. It will point out immediately where your deficiencies lie.

Another screen will show, in degrees, how open or shut you are during the swing and yet another will show, in color coded images, the proper posture and alignment. There is a biofeedback screen with audio that makes a certain noise when you are in sync with the proper motion and another when you are not.

From all this analysis it is possible to see the areas needed for improvement and create a program to get there. The data can be saved for baseline comparison in the future.

Since the program was created in partnership with the Titleist Performance Institute whose focus is on golf fitness, the integrated K-Trainer will produce a program of drills and exercises that can used independently.

The K-Vest is used by many touring professionals including Yani Tseng, the dominant woman’s golfer in the world and Mark Wilson and Heath Slocum on the PGA Tour as well teaching professionals around the country.

In New Hampshire the certified K-Vest instructors are Seth Dichard at the World Golf Center in Hudson, 860-9893, Mike Ryan at Derryfield Country Club in Manchester 669-0235, Rich Thiebault at Concord Country Club in Concord 228-8936, and Geoffrey Williams at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands in Salem 833-0084. For info on K-Vest log onto www.k-vest.com.

Wayne Mills can be reached at sports@nashuatelegraph.com.