With his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Vaughn Taylor overcame a six-shot advantage to Phil Mickelson to win his first PGA Tour event in 11 years. Taylor’s quest to find his game received a significant kick start a couple years ago from RoboGolfPro, a Chicago-based golf improvement product that is gaining the attention of the top players in the world.
The man behind the RoboGolfPro and the CEO and President of Tour Bound Golf Academy, Scott W. R. Nei talked with ChicagoGolfReport.com about his career as a golf professional from Chicago and the introduction of the revolutionary RoboGolfPro. In this excerpt, Nei talks about his first encounter with the RoboGolfPro and what makes it such a unique way of learning to swing a golf club.
WL: Scot, it’s almost had like dual careers paths going at the same time in parallel, as a player, as a coach, and then you decide to take on a third career path, and get involved in the RoboGolfPro. So why don’t you tell us the genesis of the RoboGolfPro, how you got involved and where it came from.
SN: I was trying to play golf for a living while was teaching, I was at the 2005 PGA show with the Director of Golf from White Pines Golf Course. And I had already looked at all the training dates for teaching, basically every day. It’s a small area, and it’s usually the same stuff. And Jason was looking at golf carts, and I was just kind of waiting for him and then we were leaving, and then I look over and I see this contraption.
So I go over there, and I meet the inventor, and one of the golf pros. And the robot was there, but it was a prototype and it wasn’t working. So, they invited me to Germany, so a month later I went to Germany, took at look at it, worked on it, and, you know, I mentioned to them, hey, it needs a little bit of this. We need some video, video feedback so people can see what they’re doing while they’re feeling what they’re doing.
And basically from there we’ve been partners working on it, but at that same time I was still just focused on playing. You know, I wanted to get the robot over to the states for teaching, but I also wanted to get it over so I can train on it to get on tour. But basically what I did every year was take students over to Germany, and I would go over there and train on it. The whole time working towards this new prototype that we have here at Pebble Beach.
So now we have robots in the states. I brought a robot through the Chicago Academy that you’ve been on, brought one there. It has to be going on three years now. So that’s the first robot in the states, and then from there I brought in our new prototype which has gone from, we had it at Hank Haney’s where we did a teach the teacher with it. We had it at the Ryder Cup at Medinah. We’ve had it at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am this year. We’ve had it at the Nature Valley First Tee Open here at Pebble Beach. Then I have another robot at Delmar Country Club in Carlsbad, California. I have a robot in Seattle at a golf pro’s, actually it’s at his house right now waiting to be moved to the academy. So where we are here, with the robots, we’re building 10 new style robots. We have five that are going to facilities, and five that are in negotiations.
WL: If we could take a step back then, for people who aren’t familiar with the robot, can you kind of give an overview of basically what it is, and, you know, how you use it to improve somebody’s golf playing?
SN: Okay, so the robotic swing trainer basically what we do, a typical lesson is you come in. We do some before video like the traditional lesson, and then we program the robot accordingly to fault correct your swing. So, let’s just take the normal student who, or the high handicapper, who’s over the top, which means they’re over the top of their swing. We would put them on a Jim Furyk type swing or some type of in to out swing for them to feel on the robot. So while they’re holding the golf club, the robot is moving them through positions, either step by step or in a full swing, and we can do super slow motion or we can do almost full speed.
Now we don’t teach in full speed until we’re getting to the point where we’re looking for distance, because the brain just can’t accept speed. It’d be like throwing somebody on the expressway who doesn’t know how to drive a car. But, so then it’s all about repetition. It’s perfect practice. You don’t need a ball for a perfect practice, because you’re doing exactly what we’re trying to get you to feel over and over again. So it’s a type of muscle memory.
So, you’re looking in the monitor, you’re getting affirmation that, hey yeah, this is perfect, or it’s not perfect, but it’s where I need to be in my swing. And then you do as many swings as your body will let you while the pros making sure that your body is moving properly, you’re maintaining your spine angle, shifting your weight, squaring up the club face. And then as soon as you get off the robot we don’t let you take any practice swings, set up right to the ball towards your target, and no swing thoughts, and you just swing.
So, at the beginning we just want people to swing at the target and play golf, and not think golf swing. Because on the robot that’s where they’re thinking golf swing, that’s their practice. It’s perfect practice, so eventually when they leave the lesson, that’s when we say, hey, this is what we want you to think of. You know, what were you thinking about on the robot? What did you feel? You know, okay. So, yes, some of that, what you felt on the robot is correct, but some is incorrect, because feel and real are two different things. Does that make sense?