The movie "The Matrix" suggests that we are all living in a simulation. For Penn golf, that hypothesis may not be far from the truth.
Technology has played a major role for the Quakers over the last few years, namely a pair of golf simulators and the Trackman swing and ball tracking system. Both teams get so much use out of these resources, in fact, that it’s difficult to imagine life without them.
Playing golf indoors might seem like a difficult way to improve one's game, but with all of the technology at their disposal, Penn’s golf teams often prefer to practice inside when the weather is less than ideal. Early season cold weather, snow, or rain no longer prevent the Quakers from putting in solid work.
“In the practice rounds for the Match Madness tournament, it was going to be really cold, rainy, and windy, so we just decided to stay inside and get some good practice in the simulator room,” women's golf coach Mark Anderson said. “That’s so much better than going out and freezing.”
Even though the Trackman machine is portable and is used when the teams are out on the course, the golf simulators are strictly for indoor practice.
A golf simulator is a sophisticated piece of technology, enabling athletes to play actual courses. There are around 70 of these courses available for Penn golf, most of which are famous courses around the country that host high profile professional tournaments.
None of the courses the Red and Blue play on throughout the season are available in the simulator’s library. Regardless, the most important aspect of the simulator is the feedback it provides.
“You could hit balls all winter and have some type of flaw with your club face, and the balls could be going off line and you wouldn’t know it,” Anderson said.
The Trackman Launch Monitor gives detailed feedback, including metrics such as club and ball speed, carry distance, spin rate, and more. The newest model utilizes two radar systems working in tandem instead of one in order to increase the accuracy of its measurements.
There are a number of other similar technologies available on the market, but Trackman has become the go-to option for many professional golfers. For Anderson, the decision to purchase this specific technology was easy.
“There are so many tour players that have Trackman. Every time you go to a tournament and look on the range, there are tons of Trackman units there,” Anderson said. “If the best players in the world are using it, there’s a reason.”
Anderson also tested other tracking systems against Trackman, but none was able to match its accuracy.
“We did a lot of research. We went to a couple of simulator companies and I actually brought my [personal] Trackman with me, and there were just too many discrepancies with some of the numbers [the other tracking systems] were getting,” Anderson said.
Ultimately, all of this technology and the data it provides is meant to give the Quakers an edge. With the season ending for both teams last weekend, their focus will shift to making use of their technology throughout the offseason to make a run at an Ivy League Championship next year.
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