Can Simulators Help Your College Team Win a NCAA Tournament? The Answer is Clearly YES!
Posted on July 9th, 2020 by Herb Rubenstein
Dan Rodgers’ Carnegie Mellon Golf Teams, men and women, each won the Savannah Invitational on March 8, 9 and 10, 2020 of this covid shortened season. I interviewed him because before this tournament, his teams in 2020 had not walked on a golf course and had only practiced in simulators. Here is what he said:
In a simulator, “time” goes by faster than on a golf course for practice, for drills, for playing simulated rounds, and for playing “pressure packed games with scoring systems developed by the coach and the golf simulator industry (to be discussed below).
Consistency is easier to achieve in a simulator than practicing at a driving range or on a course as one can have precise goals and have precise feedback from each shot on the simulator screen, and recorded for future analysis, for such things as:
- Carry distance for each club.
- Setting a range of, for example, “X” yards from one’s average distance for say a 7 iron as the measure of “excellent,” “good,” “acceptable”, “not good,” and “terrible.”
- Setting precise targets for maximum acceptable distance left or right of the target for each club and measuring each shot, with each club and understanding your tendencies to miss right or left more often (acceptable dispersion as measured in “yards off line”). Note, it is also good feedback to learn the full width of the dispersion of 20 shots with a club so you learn something about how one should approach and aim regarding the target landing area, especially one with penalty areas near the target landing area.
- Understanding which clubs a golfer is more likely to miss right or miss left in order to help develop proper alignment on a golf course (note there is more on alignment below).
- Measure and seek to achieve an optimal launch angle for each club and for each type of shot with each club (full shot, low or high trajectory, draw, fade, punch shot, etc.
- Measure and seek to achieve an optimal spin rate for the ball with each club (backspin and sidespin) for each type of shot
- Assess centeredness of contact and exact location of contact on your club (of course, one can use face tape to do this in rudimentary manner, but no permanent record is kept by face tape and it is more difficult to assess this in a rigorous way for each “type of golf shot” on the range or on the course.
- Measure and seek to achieve an optimal swing path for each club for each type of golf shot
- Measure and seek to achieve an optimal angle of attack for each club for each type of golf shot
- Measure and seek to achieve an optimal maximum height or trajectory for ball flight with each club for each type of golf shot
Simulators can also help a coach/golfer identify how to learn the best approaches for each player when dealing with a front left, front right, back left, back right pin or a pin near a hazard, given the player’s “miss tendencies” with the club the player would use with that specific approach shot.
Simulators can also help a coach/golfer become more mechanically correct as so many things about the swing (input) and the ball flight (results) are measured instantly, with exact feedback to the coach/player.
Simulators promote experimenting by a golfer with immediate feedback on whether the “change” in the swing, posture, weight distribution, or any other variable in the golf swing the player was “trying” to change had the desired effect or did not.
Simulators can also help a golfer achieve better emotional control in the learning process for three reasons. First, on the course a “quick hook” or any terrible shot is often emotionally draining and deflating, and can even tire out or discourage a golfer. In the simulator it is easy to respond to such a shot as just another data point to analyze and figure out quickly why the quick hook occurred. (HR note: A simulator promotes what Dr. Bob Rotella recommends as “reacting indifferently” to every shot, good or bad, as the emotionally most superior way to respond immediately to a golf shot).
Simulated golf courses that one can “see” on the screen provide an easy opportunity to repeat “shots” over and over which is not allowed on golf courses. Thus, while attempting a shot to a golf hole in a simulator, it is easier to try many different types of golf shots (different clubs, trajectories, different swings) to see how each different shot works or does not work in that exact situation offered by the golf course on the simulator.
There is more from the Dan Rodgers interview that I will post in Future Blogs. All comments welcome.