Sonic Golf System-1 Audio Swing Trainer.

September 21, 2009 11:19:32 AM PDT
Whenever someone touts a fix-your-swing aid, my mind drifts to Kevin Costner as Roy McAvoy in Tin Cup. Perhaps you remember the scene in which, after his swing goes away, Renee Russo finds him in his trailer, practically dripping with ridiculous looking golf placebo adornments. "I like to think of the golf swing as a poem," McAvoy had said to her earlier in the movie.

So, how about music? The Sonic Golf System-1 comes close to making that happen.

"We tried to make it as simple as possible," said Dr. Robert Grober, a professor of physics at Yale University, who has played the game most of his life at or near scratch. He even teaches a physics class that applies all of its theories to golf.

For more than a decade, Grober has measured club movement, and turned it into sound for use in biofeedback. "There are many forms of motion we could measure," he told us, "but we found swing speed works the best."

Dr. Grober's device turns a golf swing's speed and rhythm into a sweet, tonal, sound space. The slower your swing, the lower the musical tones. When your swing pauses at the top, that sound stops. The faster the club moves, the higher the pitch. It is fairly remarkable---a golf swing converted into music, with the player as conductor.

"First, we experimented with a feedback tone, but that wasn't pleasing to the ears," said Grober. "We tried a metronome, but that didn't work, either. Golfers need to find their own rhythms."

Dr. Grober's device requires a bit of effort to set up. It can be a somewhat intimidating, but just follow the directions. You will need to remove the grip from an iron, replace it with one of several capped ones from the kit, and then insert an accelerometer transmitter into the butt end. Everything you will need, except for the glue, comes with the kit. When not using the trainer, pull it out, cap the grip, and you will never know the difference.

Once you click the transmitter into butt end of your club, synchronize it with a receiver that you clip to your belt, or in your pocket. Plug in the lightweight headphones, put them lightly in your ears, and begin hitting balls. This may seem unnerving, at first, but you will get used to it as your golf club becomes a musical instrument. Swings with good rhythm, tempo, and speed make sweet tunes. When your swing speed reaches its highest point, the music reaches a crescendo. Change your release point, and the crescendo moves with it.

"Then what?" I asked Dr. Grober.

"Just keep swinging it."

Beginning golfers, especially, will find Sonic Golf's System-1 to be useful as they work to develop their cadence. Several high profile teachers, including Hank Haney, have endorsed the product. And, some very serious PGA players use it. Dr. Gober brought a demo unit to Vijay Singh, and left with a check.

It even helped me. Dr. Grober's demonstrator arrived the week before our club championship. Imagining the music helped me through some otherwise jumpy, dicey moments.

"You need to develop this concept for putting," I suggested to Dr. Grober.

"We're working on it."

For a better demonstration of the Sonic Golf System-1 swing trainer, visit Dr. Grober's Web site, and watch the video. It is not likely to win an Emmy award, or even a Grammy, but this device may help you shoot lower scores.

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