Kingsmill Golf Academy Takes Golf Instruction to Next Level
The Kingsmill Golf Academy uses technology for better instructionKingsmill Resort,
Golf instruction has traditionally involved a lot of guesswork on both sides of the aisle. Students describe their strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and goals, often erroneously, and instructors try to analyze by eye, which can overlook subtle biomechanical causes.
For both teacher and pupil, technology has come to the rescue, and is proving instrumental in the more efficient way the game is being taught today. But technology costs money, and many facilities have been slow to adopt it. Not the highly ranked Golf Academy at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., which has doubled down with a plethora of best-in-class devices for every aspect of the game. Home of the LPGA Kingsmill Championship, the AAA Four Diamond condo resort boasts two 18-hole courses.
“Technology has helped us as instructors, and it has helped our students as they progress,” says Chris George, head instructor for the academy, which was ranked among the Top 25 Golf Schools in America by Golf magazine. George was ranked the Number One golf pro in Virginia by Golf Digest magazine’s 50 Best Teachers in America. “It is especially good at assessing skills,” he adds. “In our golf schools the best thing is that it eliminates all guesswork — it’s all data.”
For example, Trackman is a highly accurate ball flight and swing monitor that uses technology from the defense and missile industries. It tracks swing details such as attack angle, club path, and face angle at impact, and what the ball does after leaving the club, such as flight path, speed, spin, and distance. There is more than one reason golfers slice, but to golfers slices all look the same. Trackman allows instructors to see what is really going on. Likewise, the swing itself is ultra-complicated, with hundreds of muscles loading and unloading in a rapid-fire sequence, involving the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, legs, and hips. By wearing K-Vest, a three-dimensional biomechanics analysis system, all of this can be immediately quantified.
“Let’s say a student comes in and wants to drive it farther,” says George, describing a common goal among experienced golfers. “We put them on the Trackman, we see that their path and ball flight is good, so the question becomes how can we get more ball speed without losing consistency? We move onto the K-Vest and see if they have a good kinetic sequence, and how we can improve it.”
Technology covers the entire litany of instructional sectors, from full swing to short game to putting to practice and even “continuing education.” Kingsmill uses the Cleveland Golf Wedge Analyzer powered by Swingbyte to help students get the correctly fit wedges, with the correct bounce and sole design. A tiny device called a SkyPro clips onto the club shaft and records precise data. For chipping, players should ideally have a slight forward lean in their shaft but many do the reverse. SkyPro can recognize tiny flaws, like 1-degree of negative lean, and then help students learn what the correct stroke feels like. Ditto for putting.
“We set their correct parameters and it is tied to their phone by Bluetooth, so they get audible instant feedback every time, which lets them quickly learn what the right and wrong ways feel like,” says George. “We’ve found this greatly speeds up improvement time.”
SkyPro is an inexpensive aid a student might go home with to continue practicing. But the big post-academy benefit comes from video. George and his staff show students how to have a partner film them on the course and upload it. Using the V1 sports analysis video software, instructors can immediately comment and download videos of specific drills to fix the problem.
“We want to see on course, real life footage, and today players are used to technology and it’s easier than ever to get that with a smartphone,” says George. “It’s easy to upload, and we have different drills prepared we can voice over comments and drop in instantly. We use all these avenues to maximize practice and make it more efficient, but it is also keeps students more engaged. They may only be here for three days, but we want them to keep in touch afterwards, and through video, we can work on drills the rest of the year.”
For more information and reservations, visit kingsmill.com or call 800-832-5665.