How does a top Chicago golf swing instructor use technology to help his students improve? In this interview excerpt with top local PGA Professional Greg Baresel, we learn what types of new technology he uses at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, and how he applies that information to create better golfers. You can learn more about Greg, along with his ground-breaking products, ebooks and online educational tools on his website.
WL: One of the things I think some of our readers may have seen you recently on WGN TV and you were kind of going through a couple of different scenarios. Can you talk a little bit about some of the technology that you presented.
GB: Yeah, I actually just received a TrackMan, which is a 3-D Doppler radar system that measures what the golf ball is doing but it also tells us what the golf club is doing. And what I have found using that is how I can help people be more consistent and know and have actual readings on what the club is doing. So often times people hit it to the left and the right and straight and they feel like they’re very inconsistent because the ball’s going all different directions. And really it could be just one element of the golf swing that affects that whether it’s the club face pointing in a different direction or the club path and things like that.
So now I’m able to measure where the inconsistency is and what might just have to be fixing one element versus multiple elements in the golf swing to make them more consistent. And one thing that’s really nice about TrackMan is it’s not just a teaching tool. It’s also a training tool as well. So they have the TrackMan Combine, which is a sixty shot skills test. So we’re able to see what people’s strengths and weakness are within their whole game. So whether it’s driving, long irons, mid irons, short irons and we’re hitting to different targets during that sixty shot test to see where their strengths and weakness are. Then there’s mini-tests too that we’re able to do through that.
So that’s definitely the way teaching is going is more of a coaching aspect along with teaching. And that’s how then can start to shoot lower scores. And it’s not just constantly working on the golf swing but also working on the whole game. And really trying to make them into a better player instead of just a better swinger of the golf club.
In addition to TrackMan I always use video too. So, we’re able to see what’s actually happening in the golf swing, what might be throwing off the different elements of the club through impact. And that’s when we can really start to develop into a better player.
WL: So, the TrackMan Combine that you talked about, do you use that with your students or is that kind of an isolated sort of lesson tool? I’m interested in finding out, understanding how you would kind of use that.
GB: Right. So, with the Combine, it takes about 45 minutes to go through the test. And what that is, is people might think what their strengths and weakness are but I really want to pinpoint down what that area may be and what club or what distance are they struggling with and which ones they feel more comfortable with. Because then we can talk about a game plan for when they approach a hole and what yardages to hit to or what yardages to avoid. And that gives us an area to work on.
So that is part of all my lesson packages is to at least do one TrackMan Combine so we have a good baseline of their whole game. Then we can develop a plan around that Combine to try to make them into a better player. So, it’s also an individual service that I offer, too. So if somebody just wants to come and take a Combine Test that’s something they can do so they have an idea where they’re at within their game.
At the end of it they get a score. And it’s all basically based on tour average and how far the tour professional hit it away from their target line and their distance. So, they get a score that’s based on their handicap, their age and they’re able to break it down to see how other people do at their skill level.
WL: So based upon the technology used in your kind of whole methodology that you go about teaching people, do you think you’re somewhat unique or do you think you kind of follow a sort of a strict regimented style of teaching or how would you categorize yourself?
GB: I would like to think I’m more unique. You know, I try to base my teaching—and I really like to say coaching—just like any other sport and how people would develop in a different sport. And if you look at basketball and baseball and football and softball and tennis really what makes them into better players is more game like situations. So by going through the Combine and going through different tests that’s where they’re going to develop their golf skills.
The only time I really stress hitting balls, you know, ball after ball at the range is when they’re trying to develop more of a technique. Otherwise I love to see people practice more varying clubs, switching off every other club, hitting drives, hitting an iron and trying to treat it more like a game like situation instead of just hitting the same club over and over again on the driving range. Because that’s just going to make you really a better golf swinger instead of a golf player.