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A Quick 9 With: Dr. Jim Suttie, Swingbyte Ambassador and Golf Digest Top 20 Instructor

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1. What do like the most about using Swingbyte?

DS: I like the fact that is small and portable. The numbers and data I get back are similar to Trackman. I really like the side-by-side comparison with the video on one side and the 3-D image of the swing path on the other side. Awesome!

2. How do you typically use Swingbyte when you’re teaching a student?

DS: When I teach a student, I ask a lot of questions. I will put Swingbyte on the student’s club as I video them. Swingbyte gives me an accurate idea of the student’s swing pattern and his or her impact before I start teaching.

3. What type of drills do you do with Swingbyte?

DS: Like to have the student swing without a ball and compare it to when using a ball.  I also like to focus on swing path but it really depends on the student’s present error.

4. Which Swingbyte features do you find most helpful in your teaching?

DS: Clubhead speed is most helpful because it tells you the overall efficiency of the swing. I like angle of attack also as most amateurs are too narrow and too steep.

5. How do you use the Swingbyte video and ITR features?

DS: I use the video in side by side comparison. It’s a great tool and very powerful visual tool. Research has shown that the more immediate the feedback, the greater the learning. Additionally, research has shown that 80 percent of learning a “closed” motor skill like the golf swing is VISUAL.

6. What clubs do you typically have students swing with?

DS: I use a 7 iron, a 4 iron and a driver as I want to see the difference between a driver and an iron.

7. What other technologies have you used in conjunction with Swingbyte?

DS: Sometimes I will have Trackman right next to it in order to compare the numbers. Swingbyte has about a 2 percent difference. But costs $169 where as Trackman cost $25k.

8. What advice do you have for anyone looking to take their golf game to the next level?

DS: If a golfer wants to take his or her game to the next level, they need objectivity. Swingbyte provides this. Work on one thing at a time and find out where you lose your strokes. Work on that part of the game. Swingbyte works great with the putting stroke. You can’t wish your way to the next level, you have to practice with a plan. Swingbyte provides that plan.

9. What is the most common challenge amateur golfers face?

DS: The most common challenge the average golfer faces is tension. Tension restricts the body movement and gives you skewed numbers. For example, when there is no golf ball present the numbers are usually much better than when a golf ball is present. This is a result of tension.

BONUS QUESTION: What are some of the biggest changes/trends you’ve witnessed in the world of golf training and instruction over the last 10-15 years?

DS: Obviously, the biggest and newest trend in golf instruction is the use of technologies like Swingbyte that can accurately analyze the swing. It has made the teacher’s job much easier as we are now working on the causes of a bad swing and not the results of a bad swing. Also, the idea of coaching vs teaching has entered the picture. Lastly, focus on the mental aspect of the game has been stepped up quite a bit with the use of heart monitors and relaxation techniques.

About Dr. Jim Suttie: 

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Dr. Jim Suttie, simply known as “Doc” by many of his students is one of the world’s most respected golf teachers and among Golf Digest’s top 20 instructors.  He has worked with many of the top players but still loves working with players of all abilities.

Doc graduated from Northern Illinois University where he played golf, completed his Master’s in kinesiology and coached. He later completed his doctorate in Biomechanics at Middle Tennessee University. Over his career, Doc has coached at Eastern Kentucky University where he won two OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) Championships, Brevard Community College, where he coached Paul Azinger who went on to 12 PGA victories, Northwestern University and Florida Gulf Coast University.

Dr. Suttie has conducted instructional programs at Medinah Country Club (Chicago, Illinois), Pine Needles Golf Club (Southern Pines, North Carolina), and Tamarask C.C. (Palm Springs, CA). He is currently at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, IL during the summer and TwinEagles Country Club in Naples, Florida during the winter.

Swingbyte Spotlight: Attack Angle

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With all the data Swingbyte provides, we often find our users asking, “what does this all mean and which data points should I focus on?” Attack Angle is also one of the data points that we get asked about the most. So, instead of having our CTO give you the physics book definition, we asked Swingbyte user and experienced LPGA Pro, Kris Hogan, "is attack angle important?" Here’s what she had to say…

Yes! Attack angle affects the loft of your club head, which affects the trajectory of the ball flight, which in turn affects the distance that the ball flies. It can affect the feel of your shot and how solid you perceive the shot to be. It can affect the way your putt rolls on the green and the amount of spin on your chips. In short, it’s every bit as important as your clubface and path if you want your ball to get as close to the hole (or as far down the fairway) as possible.

Attack angle is the vertical angle with which club approaches the ball, with the horizon as the point of reference. The club can be ascending, descending, or level as it strikes the ball.  

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Since the golf swing is neither entirely horizontal nor entirely vertical, we need a way to distinguish between the two when measuring our golf swings. Angle of attack is the angle at which the club head vertically (up-down) approaches the ball, while the angle at which the club head horizontally approaches the ball is otherwise known as “path” (reference point is the target line). The two combine to create the diagonal golf swing plane. If the swing is close to being round, it will have one point in its arc that comes closest to the ground before ascending away from the ground again.

Attack Angle and Your Irons
When we hear that we should “hit down on the ball”, what does that mean? It means that the ball should be struck before the club reaches the bottom of the arc. According to Trackman, the average PGA Tour player hits his irons with a 3.1°- 5.0° downward blow (approximately 9°- 11° downward on Swingbyte). The LPGA average is 1.7°- 3.1° downward blow (approximately 8°- 9° downward on Swingbyte), with the longer irons more shallow for both groups.

Note: Trackman and other radar-based systems (RBS) use a point or points forward of impact to determine Attack Angle. Swingbyte uses the point of impact and one millisecond before impact. Therefore, Attack Angle is not an apples-to-apples comparison between technologies and will typically be a minute or so steeper on Swingbyte than RBS (1 minute = 6 degrees ). 

After using my Swingbyte with my students I’ve noticed that most people hit down on the ball TOO MUCH.  If you hit down on the ball too much with your shaft leaning forward along with this descending attack angle, you may:

  • Lose quite a bit of loft, thus making the ball fly lower and shorter.
  • Hit chunky or fat shots with very deep divots.
  • Or if your shaft is leaning backward with a descending attack angle, the difference between the loft and the attack angle will actually make the ball spin backwards more, which is sometimes desirable and sometimes not.

Very few of my students actually hit their irons with an ascending angle but of you do hit your irons with an ascending attack angle, you will likely experience one of the following: 

  • A thin shot because the leading edge is striking the ball on the way up.
  • A chunky shot because the club hit the ground before ascending up into the ball.
  • A decent-feeling shot that flies higher and shorter because there was more loft added to the club when struck.

You should ask your local teaching professional about when to use one over the other. Use your Swingbyte to experiment with different shaft leans as you strike the ball with a slightly descending blow to see what works best for the ball flight you are trying to achieve.

Below is a before and after of a student who was hitting her 5 iron hybrid very low and couldn’t rely on it as her “go-to” club anymore. We discussed nothing more in her lesson than the angle of attack and the forward lean of the shaft at impact. Shocking improvement in 15 minutes!

Before:

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After:image

Attack Angle and Your Putter
Here’s a student who came to his putting lesson complaining about his lack of distance control on longer putts (35’+). The general rule of thumb for well-struck putts that roll well is to hit them with 3° of loft. His Odyssey two-ball putter has a standard 3°of loft, while his angle of attack was 2° down with 8° of forward shaft lean. His ball was literally bouncing its way toward the hole for the first twenty feet of the putt! In order to strike the ball with 3° of loft, his angle of attack needed to be be level without any forward lean, 1° of forward lean with 1° of ascending attack angle, or 2° of forward lean with 2° of ascending attack angle.

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Attack Angle and Your Driver
In the case of your driver, attack angle is a little different because the club should never touch the ground. The average PGA Tour player swings his driver 1° down, while the ladies swing theirs with a 3° ascending attack angle. Why the difference? The men want to hit the ball with a little more backspin to control the forward roll of the shot when it lands. The ladies need the extra height that an upward angle of attack gives them to hit the ball farther because their average swing speed is nearly 20 mph slower than the men’s. An interesting finding is that the ball will go farther if it is struck with an ascending angle of attack and a forward leaning shaft, thus resulting in a more stable and penetrating ball flight. For example, Bubba Watson swings his 7.5° driver with a 5° ascending angle of attack and we all know how far he bombs that!

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In this photo above, a junior player hit a great drive in large because her angle of attack was 3° up with 2° of forward shaft lean. (Accounting for the 6* adjustment in attack angle when comparing to Trackman data).

About the author:

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Kris Hogan is a Class A LPGA instructor at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club and a certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Golf Fitness Instructor. She has over 15 years of teaching experience and 25 years of competitive tournament experience, including the University of Arizona’s Golf Team and three years on the Futures, Ladies European, and Players West Tours. She has won three professional tour events, played in the 2001 Women’s U.S. Open, and was the Arizona Junior State Champion. In 2007 she was selected as the Assistant Coach of the NCAA Women’s All-Star Team.

Kris also serves as a LPGA Global Education Team Member, assisting in the evaluation of members as they test toward their Class A Status. She is a TPI Certified Junior golf coach and enjoys working with students of all ages and skill levels.

A Quick 9 with: Kris Hogan, LPGA Class A Instructor

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1. What do like the most about using Swingbyte?
KH: I love that it gives me specific information about my students’ (and my own) swings. I’ve found that this device makes the d-plane and “club-face override” more easily understood, and that we haven’t been giving angle of attack the attention it deserves until now.

2. How do you typically use Swingbyte when you’re teaching a student?
KH: Oh, how do I count the ways? I’ve used it to focus on direction (face, path, angle of attack), contact and trajectory (shaft lean, angle of attack), distance (club head speed, angle of attack, shaft lean), club fitting (club head speed, lie angle), chipping, and putting.

I stress to each student that there is no one perfect way to swing the club, but that there is a general range that works for each person depending on desired ball flight. It’s our job to capture the data for those good shots to establish a pattern to focus on. Students love the overhead display when discovering what kind of motion affects their path. The “red laser line” is an analogy that has been used for ages and it’s wonderful to actually see it!

3. Which data points do you usually focus on?
KH: Path, face to path, angle of attack, speed, shaft lean and tempo. I’ll focus on one or two numbers per student, depending on their needs.

4. What type of drills do you do with Swingbyte?
KH: I’ll do the same drills as I did before, except now we get to measure how effective the drill was! My favorite drill for angle of attack (most people surprisingly come in too steep!) is to hover an alignment stick covered with a foam pool noodle over the ball and about 8” behind it at a right angle to the target line. I’ll ask the students to swing under it on the way back and through, touching the ground only where the ball would be. Then we’ll measure the angle of attack again. This works especially well for drivers and fairway woods.

5. Which Swingbyte features do you find most helpful in your teaching?
KH: All of the measurements I work with are great. I’ve been teaching my students who have a Swingbyte of their own how to use the "dial it in" feature. When they know what range will produce the best shot, and when they can hear an audible confirmation, their practice gets so much more purposeful and productive. The best students are the ones who can attach a feeling to the desired number range, thus coming up with their own analogy or swing thought. This is the best feeling as a teacher because I know the student will remember that analogy - s/he was the one who thought of it!

6. What clubs do you typically have students swing with?
KH: Whichever ones they need help with. I’ve used wedges for chipping and pitching, mid irons, fairway woods, drivers, and putters. I plan to hit some bunker shots shortly and see what the data set is for those.

7. What advice do you have for anyone looking to take their golf game to the next level?
KH: Make a list of measurable goals, short term and long term. Be honest. Then find a teacher in your area who you think will be able to work with you in your own style to help you achieve those goals. Then learn how to make the most out of each practice session by engaging in “Deliberate/Purposeful Practice”.

8. What is the most common challenge amateur golfers face?
KH: Most amateur golfers can’t devote enough time to good practice, so they play golf with their friends without truly training their bodies to make better swings. I think Swingbyte will help the average amateur make the most out of his/her practice sessions between rounds, especially since it can be used at home.

9. What are some of the biggest changes/trends you’ve witnessed in the world of golf training and instruction over the last 10-15 years? 
KH: The development of the D-Plane was a huge advancement! I also love that golfers’ bodies have changed thanks to the research that Titleist and others have done on the topic of building a golf-ready body. Young players are stronger now than ever before, and more mature players recognize that their bodies have to be more flexible so they’re taking stretch and yoga classes.

About the author:image Kris Hogan is a Class A LPGA instructor at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club and a certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Golf Fitness Instructor. She has over 15 years of teaching experience and 25 years of competitive tournament experience, including the University of Arizona’s Golf Team and three years on the Futures, Ladies European, and Players West Tours. She has won three professional tour events, played in the 2001 Women’s U.S. Open, and was the Arizona Junior State Champion. In 2007 she was selected as the Assistant Coach of the NCAA Women’s All-Star Team.

Kris also serves as a LPGA Global Education Team Member, assisting in the evaluation of members as they test toward their Class A Status. She is a TPI Certified Junior golf coach and enjoys working with students of all ages and skill levels.

Android App Update v2.X: A Guide to What’s New for Android Phone Users

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Folks, it’s here! The long anticipated and often maligned Android phone app update has finally arrived and we are very excited!  Our developers logged long hours building, re-working and testing this update in order to get it ready for our Android users. The update has been in the works for a while and there are some significant changes to the user interface (most noticeably the switch to a vertical layout) so we felt it appropriate to highlight a few of those.  Additionally, there’s new walkthrough waiting for you in the FAQ section of the updated app. 

We’ll break these down into two categories: Updates to Existing App Features (Updates) and New Features.

As always, if you have any feedback or suggestions on this version, please email support@swingbyte.com and we’ll get working on it. Thank you! Click on the links below for more…

1. Getting to Know the Updated User Interface 

2. Connecting Swingbyte and Recording Swings

3. Setting Up Your Club Bag

4. Viewing Your Swings 

5. Viewing Your Swing Data

6. View Swing History

7. Record Video – NEW FEATURE!

8. Compare Swings – NEW FEATURE!

9. Dial-It-In – NEW FEATURE!

10. Share Swings - NEW FEATURE!

11. Accessing the App Menu: Edit Settings, Calibrate your Swingbyte, Edit your Club Bag, User Profile and FAQ

Getting to Know the New User Interface: Android Phone App Update 2.X

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Below are images of the new app with some helpful navigational overlays.  You can access these at anytime in your app by simply pressing on the ”?” icon in the lower right corner of your screen. 

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Accessing the Android App 2.X Menu: Edit Settings, Calibrate your Swingbyte, Edit your Club Bag, User Profile and FAQ: Android Phone App Update

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To access the app menu, just tap the three lines by the Swingbyte logo in the upper left corner.   

To calibrate your Swingbyte, tap the “Settings” button and choose Calibrate.

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Dial-It-In: New Feature for Android Phone App Update 2.X

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Want to work on a specific aspect of your swing? Dial-It-In allows you set a target range for any data point and lets you know if you’re swinging within those parameters. Just tap and hold on the desired data point, set your parameters and listen for Swingbyte to know how you’re doing!  
Tip: When working on a swing change, Dial-it-in can be a helpful way to engrain a new swing move into your muscle memory. 

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Share Swings: New Feature for Android Phone App Update

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You can now share swings via email or social media by simply tapping the three dots on the bottom right corner.

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Compare Swings: New Feature for Android Phone App Update 2.X

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To compare any two swings, tap the compare icon at the bottom left corner of the screen. Slide up on the swing label to choose a different swing. Your selected swings will be overlaid in different colors so you can compare.

Note: When comparing swings, Swingbyte will display two data points at a time. You can scroll through data points by swiping the data left or right. 

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Record Video: New Feature for Android Phone App Update 2.X

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You can now use the camera built into your phone to record and view a video of your swing that is automatically synced and trimmed to your Swingbyte club data. Just tap the red video camera icon at the top of the swing screen to begin recording. Once the video screen comes up, align your ball with the on-screen circle and swing! 

The app will beep twice to confirm that your swing data was captured, then twice more to confirm the video has processed. Note: Do NOT tap “Stop Video” until the swing has finished processing. 

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