Review: SkyPro

This is not your typical review. Instead of having a brief period to use the product I have had months with the SkyPro from late in the 2013 season.

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

In 2013

I was initially very excited about using the SkyPro. I took it to the range the afternoon that I bought it. At the time I didn’t have an iPhone but I did have an iPad. Actually it was an iPad 2 with a somewhat bulky case.

One of the first things that you need to do whenever you start or switch clubs is to calibrate the device. This involves putting your phone or iPad on the club face, touching and holding the sides of the screen and then rotating it around you. Even with an iPad 2 and a bulky case the calibration worked flawlessly correctly identifying my club every time.

I then started to hit shots with it. It was very exciting to see the data coming back. There were all these new things to look at. Club shaft lean at address, etc. my swings typically had a couple if warnings and I started to address them I saw things happening. Ball flight started changing, distance, contact etc. It was pretty exciting.

But there was a downside. I didn’t really know how to change certain things or really understand waft they meant. I had no drills or resources to dig deeper. Overall though the device worked as advertised.

Later on there was a glitch. I got an iPod Touch (5th generation). This thing had trouble even connecting to the sky pro at all. In the end I stopped using it with the iPod and just stuck to the iPad.

Fast forward

to now. I have an iPhone 5s and it works great with it. But until recently I still had the same issues regarding really knowing what the different things meant. I didn’t want to create bad habits but I did want to make the right kind of changes.

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An update changes everything

It’s really amazing what an update can do. And the latest update to SkyPro app really makes things great. Along with some new practice modes and tools, the best thing is clear explanations of what each thing being tracked is, what different numbers mean and video explanations from Michael Breed.

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The result is a true SkyPro. It’s feedback that really helps you improve and change your swing for the better. As we all know Michael us an exceptional teacher on the Golf Fix. But he makes each element of the swing that SkyPro measures, not only understandable, but allows to see how and why to change.

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And this is what SkyPro really needed. This is what separates it from everything else. At the end of the day we want to get better. Understanding what to do and why in a clear way makes all the difference. Based on this latest update SkyPro has become my go to practice, training and learning aid. I have not yet tried the new putting feature, but that will come in a future review.

Zen Chili Rating for Sky Pro

5 Zens out of 5

• Immediate feedback you can use
• Groove make practice easy
• Michael Breed explains things clearly

5 Chilis out of 5

• Light, it does not affect club weight
• Easy to charge
• Connects to iPhone easily
• Calibration is easy on iPhone, but a little challenging on iPad
• Useful for full swing, and putting (to be reviewed later)

To learn more about the rating system click here.

Reducing Driver Spin

Golf ball on Tee

Photo by North Charleston via Flickr

My recent experience with the SLDR, got me thinking about driver spin.  Now obviously since the northeast is still wicked cold, I can’t really practice much yet, but I wanted to know from you, what are some of your best tips for reducing driver spin.

This is something I’ve been fighting with for the better part of my golf career.  I’ve gone with the lowest spinning driver and shaft combinations that I can find, and yet it still plagues.  I’ve got a golf coach voice in my head telling me to hit up on the ball (or at the very least level), and too not be “handsy”.

Do you have any good drills, swing thoughts, or visualizations that have helped you?  Let me know. See you on the range.

TaylorMade SLDR. Will lofting up work for me?

Loft up tshirt and hat

All across the country today, TaylorMade and Golfsmith have teamed up to provide golfers an opportunity to compare their current drivers to the TaylorMade’s flagship driver the SLDR.  Their claim is that the low and forward CG promotes a high launch and low spin and fast ball speed.  Certainly those things sound like they would make for some long driving. But will it work for me?

I wanted to see for myself whether they’re new driver performed for me, so I header to the closest Golfsmith with my trusty gamer.  My driver is a Ping G25 9.5 degrees with the Ping TFC 189 Tour X-Flex shaft.  When I’m swinging well I can bomb this thing.  For me a bomb is hitting out there 295 – 310, depending on course conditions.  But, that’s not my typical drive.  I would say my normal drives are from 250 to 270.

At Golfsmith I was led to the hitting bay where they took a look at my club, then brought out an SLDR at 12 degrees, stock shaft at X-Flex to match, assuring me that I should expect to see higher launches, lower spin, and longer carries.

I started warming up, and I wasn’t hitting anything too well. I went through a few rounds switching between both drivers before switching to an iron, just to get my tempo and rhythm more in sync.  Finally I was ready to do the real comparison.

Results

So did I hit it higher, with less spin and more ball speed? Not entirely.

Launch angle

Launch angle: Taylormade SLDR – 12.2, Ping G25 10.8.

TaylorMade wins the launch angle.

Spin

Spin: Taylormade SLDR – 3299, Ping G25 – 3044.

Ping wins the spin battle. Granted this is a high number regardless of which driver.  I really need to work on my swing to lower this. Some additional morsels of information.  Highest spin with SLDR was 4293 and lowest was 2384.  Highest with Ping was 3613 and lowest was 2499.  So even though one shot with the TM had lower spin than the lowest of the Ping it didn’t beat it by much, but that high spin shot was crazy high.  Again, I really need to work on my swing to lower my spin in general.

Finally, Ball Speed

Taylormade SLDR – 138.3, Ping G25 142.2.

Again not my best ball striking session but the Ping clearly beat the SLDR in terms of ball speed  Those 5 miles can make a big difference the total distance numbers bear that out.

Distance

The ping averaged 13 yards longer than the SLDR. The SLDR never came close.  The higher launch, combined with more spin. never made up for the ball speed difference for me.

Conclusion

Ping wins this round.  TaylorMade certainly is an innovative golf company.  That said, no one product can fit everybody.  This session was fairly short, and not as thorough as a real driver fitting, so with a little bit more attention and trying some different shaft combinations, results might have been very different.  However it’s certainly possible this is a great driver for you.  I would encourage you to get fitted with a PGA pro who will take the time to look at your swing characteristics and put together the combination that works best for you.  In the end I got a new t-shirt, a new TaylorMade hat, and some experience with the latest technology from TaylorMade.

Word game for Golfer

If you love golf, then you love everything golf.  If you’re a reader of my blog, you know how much I love golf.  Well I’m also an iPhone/iPad developer and I’ve developed a word game, and a good chunk of that word game is devoted to golf.

The game is called 2WordsJumble and it’s available on the App Store. I’m very proud of this game, but fair warning, just like golf this game is not easy.  It will test you, it will challenge you, but it is fun.  It’s also free so please try it and let me know what you think.  I’m always looking for feedback to improve it.

Here are some screen shots.

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New Year, New Golf Season

So we’re more than halfway through January.  The weather here in the Northeast has been brutal.  I’ve been away from blogging, but I’m back.  Over the last year I’ve played some great golf and some lousy golf, I’ve graduated from graduate school and changed jobs.  All of this has made it difficult to practice even with an Optishot and some of the other awesome training aids I have.

A few bright spots during the year.  Even though I wasn’t able to practice very much, my handicap hardly changed.  Sure I lost a shot and half, but considering the lack of practice that is actually pretty decent.  I also picked up a new training aid that I will post a review of soon.

We’ve also seen some interesting changes in the game.  Technology is really moving. How much is your smart phone part of your game?  I know mine is now playing a big role, more on this to come later.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hi again, and you can look forward to some new posts from me.  The goal/mission is still the same, to become a scratch golfer.  Now that school is finished and I’m settled in at the new position, I’ll be able to put some practice time in.  Now if only the cold would go away and the snow would melt.

Amazing distance gains – without switching clubs

Things continue to go well on the range.  Today I was simply shocked at how long (for me) I was hitting the ball, and at times I just to had to laugh, I couldn’t believe it.

I’ve got two 3 woods and I’ve been trying to decide which to keep in the bag.  I though today might be a fun day do that test.  I must say I’ve also been tempted by the distance claims from TaylorMade golf for the Rocketballz line.  The two 3 woods are an Adams 15 degree superfast from 2 years ago, and a nike VR pro from last year at 13 degrees.  The Adams has an X-Stiff shaft, while the Nike has Porject X 6.0.

Amazingly the both had similar launch angles, with the Nike actually launching slightly higher.  How was the distance?  Normally, the range I go to has a high fence that starts at about the 240 yard line.  My typical 3 wood would carry just short of that and hit the fence on one bounce, or maybe reach the start of the fence.  Today, I had a number of shots that struck the middle of the fence, normally a place reserved for my driver.  I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced 3 woods that solid.

I credit the work I’ve put in this winter on my fundamentals.  Namely I’ve been working with the Powerchute to improve my timing, sequencing, and fitness.  I can’t say enough about it.

Interestingly I’ve been considering getting fit for new clubs.  Not sure I need to do that for my 3 wood.  I did manage to find a winner, the Nike VR Pro 13 degree outperformed the Adams and I’m happy to say that it’s going to take its rightful place in my bag.  In addition, I was hitting all my irons incredibly solid.  It was a phenomenal practice session and I hope things continue well.

New Season Excitement – Off season work paying off

The warm winter provided something we don’t get to see often in the northeast, year round golf in decent conditions.  I’ve spoken with golfers who did not stop playing at all this winter.  Although I took a break from playing, I spent a lot of time working on fundamentals, golf fitness and putting.  All indications are that it’s going to be a great season and I’m looking to get into the low single digits, 5 or below.

My range sessions have shown me that the things I’ve worked on this “off-season”, are beginning to pay off.  Ball striking feels great, and I love the ball flight I’m getting.  I’m launching my irons super high without getting any ballooning.  And my drives feel incredible.  A lot of it has to do with the work that I put in using the Powerchute.  It’s not just a training aid, it’s a real golf fitness tool, and it’s become the main training aid I use.  It has really solidified my swing fundamentals and it’s been incredibly exciting.

What kinds of things you have done this off-season to get ready, and how are they paying off for you?

Review: Powerchute

Powerchute

Powerchute

For the past month I’ve worked with a swing trainer called the Powerchute. I’ve given it an extensive test and the results are in.

What is the Powerchute?

It’s a swing training aid that aims to increase clubhead speed and lag, and improve timing and lag. In addition it strengthens the fast twitch muscles.

You attach the powerchute to your club and it becomes a small sail, that uses the wind created by your swing as the resistance you swing against. I was skeptical at first. I watched the videos on the website and Jack Nicklaus using it and I was still skeptical. It wasn’t until I took my first few swings with the powerchute, and then without it, that the wow factor hit me.

The first swing after you take the powerchute off your club is an amazing. The club feels lighter. The backswing feels normal, and then you start your downswing. My first swing without the Powerchute was so fast that it threw me almost off balance.

After using the Powerchute for a few months now, my old weakness: driving, has turned into a strength. Working with the powerchute daily has really helped with that trouble spot for me. I find that I’ve developed much better sequencing, even better lag, but more importantly I am able to use that lag properly. The resitance from the Powerchute has forced me to use my body and my hands properly to finish the swing correctly.

Over the last few months, the Powerchute has become my favorite swing trainer. I really enjoy heading down to the basement, where I have my golf practice area setup, to make some Powerchute swings. I feel that not only am I practicing solid fundamentals, but I am developing good golf fitness, and in the right muscles.

I can honestly say that the more I use the Powerchute, the more I want to use it. I’ve found new uses for it to help my game overall. It really is the only swing trainer I use now.

Golf Fitness

Now, to the fitness part of the powerchute. I’ve been told that the Powerchute, strengthens the fast twitch muscles that you use in the golf swing. These are the muscles needed to generate speed and power. The Powerchute achieves this by providing a plyometric workout. What are plyometrics? The following is from Wikipedia.

“Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric exercises may also be referred to as explosive exercises.”

The golf swing is all about controlled explosive power. It requires finesse, touch, feel, and power. Plyometric training is a perfect fit for golf. A friend of mine trains using Kettle Bells to achieve this, and he happens to be a director of golf so I know that those are great exercies for golf.

I do find that the Powerchute provides a plyometric workout and a very good one at that. The faster you can swing with the powerchute, the more resistance you create, and the more you work out those fast twitch muscles.

Zen Chili Rating for Powerchute

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves power, lag. sequencing and fitness virtually automatically
•No need to think about it, swing it, feel it

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well made product that can take a beating. Ingeniously designed.

At first I found I struggled when I switched from Powerchute swings, to iron swings. They felt too fast. Over the past few months everything that’s gone into the driver has also gone in to improve my iron play.

Conclusion

The Powerchute has been amazing to work with. I was so skeptical at first, but it has improved my power with all clubs, my balance, and my fitness. I have zero hesitations about recommending it. It is worth every penny.  Check it out at: http://www.powerchutegolf.com/

New DVD available with the Taly Mindset

There’s a new video that now comes with the Taly Mindset.  The opening credits, certainly set the stage.

The Taly Mindset is a device that challenges conventional thinking in golf.  It was invented by an engineer who loved the game of golf and wanted to play better. You can read my full review here. The device is now used by many touring pros and teaching pros across the country.  One of the most famous teachers who routinely uses the Mindset to teach is Lynn Blake.

The DVD is a big improvement over what used to come with the Mindset.  Although the pamphlet the came with it before gave some indication as to how it should be used, it really was not detailed enough and left questions unanswered.  It left it up to the golfer through trial and error to figure out what to actually do and how to do it.

The new DVD answers the questions that every golfer needs answered when using the Taly Mindset.   If you can understand the thought that went into the development of the Taly Mindset then you can learn to use it effectively.  And it will change the way you approach golf.

I found the DVD gave me new insights to really understand how to use the mindset.  There is a lot more to it than the pamphlet covers the DVD is an excellent complement to the device.

The new DVD comes with purchases of the Taly Mindset for $89.99 or can be ordered from the Taly Store for $49.99. If you have a a Taly Mindset, I highly recommend the video.  Taly Williams is offering a discount to Taly Mindset owners.  They can use the coupon code “MYDVD” when checking out at the Taly Store.

Tour Striker gets me back on track

If you’ve played golf with me in the past month you would have known that my ball striking has put me in a bit of a slump.  My distance control was off, and my shots were coming up short.

In a few minutes the Tour Striker brought my ball striking back.  An hour and half and two buckets of balls later, I’m feeling much better about my ball striking.  The difference is dramatic.

Sadly, before this session I was having trouble hitting my 8 iron 150 yards.  It was extremely frustrating.  This afternoon, my 8 iron was a much more respectable 165-170 average carry, with several carrying 175-180.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.

I knew I was on the right track when I started to hit what some low bullets with the Tour Striker.  These bullets went no higher than about 30 feet, but they carried about 200 yards.  The Tour Striker pro that I use is the equivalent of an 8 iron, so that’s some serious contact.  In an earlier conversation I had with Martin Chuck, the inventor of the Tour Striker, he assured me that when I’m hitting those low bullets, it means I’m very close to excellent contact, just millimeters away from perfection.  He’s right.

Shortly after the those low bullets, with a minor adjustment I began to hit them high, super high and solid, and they just carried forever.  It felt so good after this past month of less than perfect ball striking.