Hands-on: GolfSense iPhone and Android swing tracker review
Golf is a beast of game to get right. Even after countless hours of practice on a range and years of games on a course, you can still end up shanking a ball into someone's back garden, with little understanding of what went wrong.
So anything that can help you visualise how you hit a ball is of great help. Especially something that can show comparisons of swings to give you an indication of whether you're getting closer or further away from correct positioning.
GolfSense is a gadget that has helped us after only a brief amount of use, and with its use we fully believe that our golf swing will improve dramatically. Everything else will still be as flaky as it was, but hey, that's golf for you.
The GolfSense kit is made up of a lightweight tracking device that fixes on to the back of any regular golf glove, a charger and a free app that you install on an iPhone or Android smartphone. There is a free iPad app too, but you'll have to take your tablet down to the range with you, and tracking hip movement will not be possible. But you can sync to multiple devices, so you could have your phone as the main tracking device and see live results on a separate tablet.
The device hooks up to your smartphone via Bluetooth and then it's the app that does all the hard work. It tracks your hand speed, wrist rotation, club head speed, club shaft position both on the back and front swing, and shows the results in a visual representation. It is easy, for example, to see whether you are a single or two-plane swinger. Does the head of the club go back and forward on the same plane, or does it whip around on a different path?
Hip rotation is also trackable if you keep your phone in your pocket, as it uses the smartphone's own sensors combined with the GolfSense device. Hip rotation is a vital element in achieving a good golf swing, so this feature is a great addition.
The app itself is a doddle to use. Once it's paired with the tracker, you simply choose which club you're hitting with. After calibration - which is only necessary once - you get a spoken cue to address the ball and then you can hit away. Repeat shots will be registered automatically, so you won't have to take the phone back out of your pocket until you want to change clubs.
This is ideal for when you're at the driving range. If you're using the GolfSense during an actual game, you'll be fiddling with the app a lot, we feel.
Further use for the app comes after you've packed away your clubs, as every shot is saved. You can compare speeds, accuracy, plane comparison and much more - even to comparing your efforts to those made with the same length clubs by a PGA Tour pro. It can make for uncomfortable reading, but remember, it's the first step to being able to win a tenner off your boss.
As GolfSense tracks just about every aspect of a swing, it also offers guidance on what particular areas you need to improve. And the swing is shown as a 3D render, so you can spin round it and reverse/forward the point in time to see exactly the club's path at any particular moment.
In short, it's an awesome piece of tech for the amateur golfer; one that will help immeasurably given enough time with it. It won't take your shots for you. And isn't really a replacement for a pro teacher. But it will show you exactly what you are doing wrong, and that's exactly what you need to get things right in the future.
The GolfSense app is a free download for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android. The motion sensor is available in white or black for $129.99 from golfsense.me, or around £100 in the UK from retailers such as Amazon.co.uk.