When it comes to practising, you will hear many of the top players using the old saying that it's about 'quality, not quantity'. Whilst it's undeniably good fun to stand on the driving range and try to blast drivers over the back net 350 yards away, is it really helping you improve?
Well, Toptracer thinks that they have come up with a method to improve your golf with target-based scenarios which are also said to be lots of fun. The bit we're most interested in though - does it offer non-golfers an easy introduction to the game?
Our resident Professional Golfer Sophie Walker met up with Paul Williams, General Manager of Toptracer Europe, at Trafford Golf Centre to find out more...
Toptracer has been around on television coverage since the mid-2000s, but only made the switch onto the driving range in 2012. The idea is to give golfers real-time feedback on the shots they're hitting on the range for more entertaining and productive sessions, and its working. There are already 50 driving ranges using Toptracer technology throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
Paul Williams, General Manager of Toptracer Europe spoke of the influence Toptracer is having:
We're really seeing this wave of Toptracer technology expanding through Europe. The driving range experience has been the same for so long that people are ready for a change now, and we're certainly seeing that.
Toptracer also works alongside an app which allows golfers to create a profile and simply use the embedded QR scanner to load your profile straight on to the screen at the range. This way you can keep track of your data and even challenge your friends to compete against you.
The state-of-the-art cameras installed at Trafford Golf Centre capture every shot you hit across the different modes on the range, tracking the initial movement of the ball off the face and then using that to accurately predict the overall performance of the shot.
The advantage of this kind of information is that you can really learn exactly how far you hit each of your clubs and what your overall tendencies are. Gone are the days of just just hitting ball after ball into a 'field' and not actually knowing how far you're hitting it. More importantly, this kind of technology is prepping golfers for the course.
There are six different game modes, including enough space for up to four players per bay:
Launch Monitor - A comprehensive training mode allowing you to hone your skills by offering carry distance, total distance, spin rates, launch angle, height and dispersion.
What's In My Bag - Learn your patterns and numbers with every club in the bag, and store your stats on the Toptracer Network to track your improvement over time.
Virtual Golf - Play some of the best golf courses in the world directly from your bay, either on your own or in a group.
Closest To Pin - Compete with your friends and improve your game at the same time with this exciting mode. Set your target and get some friendly competition going!
Long Drive - Everyone's favourite game - compete for bragging rights among your friends with a proper long drive grid with space for multiple players.
Points Game - Perfect for beginners up to elite players, gain points based on distance to targets and watch out for the in-air bonus rings for an extra challenge.
It's clear to see that at Trafford Golf Centre, Toptracer technology is definitely working. Golfers of all types and ability levels are getting out there, picking up golf clubs, playing and most of all enjoying it! You can be a complete beginner or a seasoned pro and you will still be able to get something from Toptracer.
The technology itself is also very impressive. Once it is explained as Paul did, then you begin to see just how many great features Toptracer has included.
Finally, the availability of this kind of technology to the general public means it is a great transition tool between beginning the game, to taking to the course (and hopefully then getting golf club membership!). Being able to add target-oriented scenarios, with point-scoring, along with some statistics on your own performance, are the first steps towards getting out and playing for real.
Pizza and beer at the driving range? What's not to like...
What do you think of technology like Toptracer becoming more and more prominent at driving ranges? Are they a great way to get people into the game or do you worry that they will take people away from the course itself?
As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts, comment below and let us know.