My 3 Months With Mr. Trackman: A Coach’s Prespective

Mr. Trackman

Technology has become a huge part of golf instruction in the last 10 to 15 years. First it was high-speed video and the ability to slow down professional golfers swings and compare them to the average golfer for a comparison. Now it is sophisticated launch monitors for full swing and putting that have taken the analysis to a whole new level for the student and the teacher. Recently on the Golf Channel, Frank Nobilo and Brandel Chamblee were discussing what they called the “New Age” or “The Modern Teacher.” Mr. Nobilo said that these coaches were now using devices such as “Trackman”, “SAMPutt Lab” and “AimpointTrackman Adam style Green Reading“. He brought up names such as Sean Foley, David Orr and my good friend John Graham which was nice of him because these guys need to get credit for bringing these technologies to forefront. I actually had a few of my members email or contact me after they saw this segment to mention to me that they thought that I would fall under this category which was pretty cool. Since I have been using the SAM Putt Lab and teaching AimPoint for almost 2 years, I would have to say that I fall under this “Modern Teacher” category even though I still consider myself old school in many ways as I will explain. Even though I have educated myself on understanding “correct” ball flight, the D Plane and trackman numbers, I have only recently been fortunate enough to actually teach with one. Thanks to Cobra/Puma Golf for allowing us to borrow a Trackman as a promotion for the last couple of months and it has been very educational for sure. I will attempt to put into words some of the things that I have learned while using trackman and give you my thoughts on this old school vs. new school teacher idea that has been thrown around by many of you as well as our friend Mr. Chamblee who has proclaimed that technology such as Trackman is hurting the game.

There has been alot of discussion amongst my fellow teaching professionals on twitter and some facebook forums of the importance of being able to get and ultimately deliver “accurate information” to the golfer. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment but it still remains that the teacher is still responsible for interpreting the information and ultimately communicating it to the laymen golfer for them to improve. I have many of my students that I work with today that could interpret trackman and SAM Putt Lab numbers but wouldn’t have the first idea about giving a quality golf lesson. Are you with me so far?

Using Trackman (Old School meets New School)

After teaching with Trackman for almost 3 months, I have to remind myself and and my trackman with groupstaff that standing behind the machine and barking out numbers and telling them to move the numbers is not teaching golf! This is where the old school meets the new school in my opinion. Trackman is merely a great device to give us the information on what the club is doing that we may not be able to see with the naked eye. It has allowed me to 1) Bring the D Plane to life for my students with a definitive ball flight explanation 2) Given me a quicker solution to the problem and 3) Given my student some measurement to the change that we are making in the lesson. Trackman is not method biased. It is still up to the teacher to 1) interpret the numbers 2) communicate the important piece to the student that needs to change and 3) GIVE THE STUDENT THE FEEL AND/OR DRILL TO MAKE THE CHANGE. #3 is where I feel that alot of new teachers fall short and don’t know how to help the student move the numbers or make the long lasting change. This is where my old school meets new school (did I say that already?)


For those who have watched me teach or have followed me in the past know that I am very big on manipulating the student. This means getting in there and moving the club and307368_2312140281042_1175444144_32381510_1363374772_n or body in an exaggerated fasion in order to create a feel for the opposite move in order to make a change. This is an acquired skill that has to be practiced.  After you have decided on what you are working on with your student, you can’t rely on them to just do it without you creating a feel through moving them or giving them the appropriate drill. Because if you tell the student that you need the path number to move from -6 guru manipulatingdegrees to plus 2 and can’t make it happen, then you have a very frustrated student on your hands and trackman has done nothing but expose you as a coach who can’t get results, so be careful. Once the student sees the numbers change and the desired results they can use it to create a repeatable pattern. This is the feedback that I have received from my students about their experience on trackman.

Key Things That I Have Learned On Trackman

For those of you who have been using Trackman this will be remedial but I am just giving you my thoughts on using trackman the last few months.

1) Impact Location is crucial – Especially with hitting the driver, unerstanding gear trackman gurueffect is huge. It make the D Plane numbers look silly and you have to explain this to your students. I use Dr. Sholls powder and video replay to figure out the impact location on every shot.

2) Golfer Alignment and Trackman Callibration Is Important – Trackman only knows the target line that you callibrated it to. It doesn’t know where the golfer is aiming or how they are standing relative to the target. Similar to camera angles in video, the target line is important in how the numbers are interpreted.

3) Angle Of Attack – This Is the most difficult dimension to calculate if you don’t have trackman. I am pretty good at guessing path and face numbers (it is a fun game to play during a lesson) but AoA is difficult. Using video is helpful to diagnose why someone hits down too much or up too much depending on the club your are working on. Some pieces that I look at regarding AoA are: 1. handle location 2. the distance from the front shoulder and the ground (Thank you James Ridyard) which is a direct reflection of how bent the knees are at impact and for how long.

Its All About Spin Loft – The Angle between Club Orientation and Club Direction. (Not really just had to put that in there for my boy Ryan Cheney) (@oraclerio) follow him on twitter, you won’t be disappointed.

The main numbers that I use when teaching (not fitting) is: Face, Path, Angle of Attack, Swing Plane, Dynamic Loft, Spin Loft, Axis Tilt. – With Driver I would add: Smash factor (ball speed/clubhead speed), Launch angle and spin rate.

Path vs. Face debate

There has been several threads and conversations over the last several months with teaching pros about what to fix first…..swing path or club face. I will say that in the past (before I fully understood D Plane) I tended to fix the face first with OK results. Now that I understand starting direction and curve, I would say it has evened out and probably work on path more than ever but I don’t neglect the fact that golfers do respond a face change that will change the path. My point is that it a subjective change depending on the characteristics of the students pattern you are working with. A lot of time I will make a grip change (face) and work on path without even mentioning the face but I did change it. The genius still lies upon the expert teacher that will make the appropriate correction to create the desired ball flight of the STUDENTS GOALS! I use video to look at positions and how they relate to the numbers on trackman to get to the quickest solution. If you are only fixing one side of the equation then I think you are short siding the student.

When To Use Technology

Every student will not benefit from Trackman all of the time. You have to be able to read the student and tell whether they need to feedback. I typically keep it running but don’t show them the numbers unless they ask or I want to show them the change, not unlike video analysis. Listening and reading the students learning style is crucial in using it effectively.


Overall I have been very pleased with the results and the feedback from my students about using trackman. The students experience is the ultimate feedback and it has been overwhelmingly positive which improves our chances of getting our own orange box. The thing that I hope you got out of this piece is that Trackman is simply a measuring tool for the teacher and student but it does not take the place of the expert coach that has to guide the learning experience and change for the pupil.

I have alot to learn but now I feel like I have the device to give me the answers……..

Thanks for reading and feel free to share if you deem worthy. As the season winds down, i will start to write again and continue to do what I love……gather, share and mentor other teachers to help us all grow the game.

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Mastermind Skill #5 (D-Plane Knowledge)

I do a weekly tip for my members at Carmel CC that I only share with them but I thought that this tip is what I would consider “The Most Important Golf Lesson” that you may get so I wanted to share it with you. In my 5 Mastermind Skills or the framework of success that I teach at the Academy, this is #5 but it probably should be #1. I assume that all teachers know and understand about the D Plane but it is amazing to me how many times I run into what I consider top teachers, watch videos or read articles that get this wrong which is amazing to me. So in order for us to make sure everyone in our industry is at least agreeing with something that has to do with helping our students get better……This may be the one undisputable fact! Ball Flight Creation. I don’t give a lesson without making sure my student understands the basics of this concept because I want them to be able to somewhat diagnose their ball flight correctly. So here is just a very basic video of the D Plane. I know there are other factors such as A o A and friction etc. but this is a great place to start for the average golfer. At the bottom I will describe 2 scenarios where your ball flight can fake you out so make sure you read the bottom.


2 Ball Flight Fake Outs

#1 The Pull Slice – As I described in the video, if your ball is starting left or straight and curving too much to the right, you must get the club swinging more inside to out and shallower (especially with the driver) in order to get a playable ball flight. If you try to close the face and don’t fix the path, you will hit LOW PULL HOOKS!

#2 The Pull Hook or Draw – One of the most difficult ball flights to diagnose is when you are swinging the club from inside-out or to the right and the ball is starting left and curving more left. Without a trackman or video, this is a tough one because the same ball flight can be created by a left path with a face angle that is in the same direction. So if you find that your path is to the right, then you have to get the club face pointing to the right of target line but left of the path in order to hit a very playable….Push Draw. This often happens because you are trying to flip your hands and wrists through impact or square the clubface too soon which you now know that you shouldn’t do. (that’s for another blog)

Feel free to share this blog and video and leave questions or comments in the comment section. Lets grow the game with the correct information, One golfer at a time.

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D-Plane with Trackman Maestro and John Graham

One of my 5 Mastermind Skills is educating my students on how and why the ball flies the way it does. I call it (D-Plane Knowledge) I talk about D Plane in just about every lesson because I want my students to armed with the correct information that will help them diagnose their ball flight and ultimately help understand why I choose the order of change that we are working on. Coaches and players alike, if you don’t understand the concept then you just aren’t looking hard enough or you probably won’t be reading this blog because the information is out there. I pride myself on trying to share the information that I have acquired from top coaches such as John Graham (and many others) with other teachers that will benefit and ultimately help grow this game of golf. Recently there have been a couple of great video explaining D Plane that will help answer some questions and also dispel myths about spin axis and why 2 D video can be misleading by John Graham and by Joseph Mayo. John has partnered with  Mark Strong to produce an excellent 3D video presentation that will be very insightful and informative. Go to to download for only 10.00. It will be the best 10 dollars that you will ever spend on your golf game or your coaching career. Here is an intro video:

I hope you find these videos helpful and let me know if you have any questions. Thank you to John and Joseph for taking the time to do these wonderful videos.

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See on the lesson tee at Americas best club,


Guru on Tip It Up Blog Radio with Jason Helman

Here is a radio show that I did with Jason Helman along with special guest John Graham. John discussed Aimpoint and I talked about D Plane, social media and the presidents cup.

To schedule a lesson with me at Carmel CC, please call the golf shop at 704-945-3300

See you on the lesson tee,


D Plane Montage: The Best of the Best

I know many of my students have heard me talk about the D-Plane and why it is important. The cool thing is that many of you understand it. I had a 13-year-old junior that know how to work the ball now because of D Plane.  As a student you need to have a general understanding of why the ball flies the way it does. As an instructor my job is to help you change your pattern to get the desired ball flight that you want. Some of you have asked me what I need to do to work the ball in both directions and this usually opens up a discussion about “The Descriptive Plane” or 3D ball flight. I usually pull out a couple of sticks or my monster wedge and try to explain it in a fashion that anyone could understand. There is so much more to it than just the path and club face relationship that is hard to explain (angle of attack, friction, spin loft etc.) and also impossible to see without a trackman to give you the exact numbers. As coaches we do our best to read ball flight, match it up with what we see with our internal high-speed cameras (our eyes) and then look at it on camera in slow motion to decide where to start first. The understanding of D plane principles has helped me to read ball flight better, diagnose quicker and help my students faster by changing their ball flight in a positive way. I have to thank my good friend John Graham (check out his site for more info) for our many talks on the subject and his videos that help explain this. I also have run across some other great videos fromBrian Manzella and this one from James Leitz that I would like to share. I know most of you have seen this but I never assume anything and think it can be useful for coaches and students. Along with some of my favorite videos I have included some pictures that might help paint the picture of the DPlane as well. Enjoy my montage and I am so grateful to all the great coaches that have helped me with this subject as it has taken my teaching to a new level.

James Leitz

Brian Manzella

John Graham

To understand your golf swing is to understand ball flight. I know your head is spinning right now so you must come to the lesson tee and I will explain it live.

Check out our website @ or call 704-542-7635 to book a lesson with the Guru.

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See you on the lesson tee,



D-Plane Makes It To Golf Illustrated: June Issue

It has been awhile since I have mentioned the D Plane for golf. Look into my archives to get the entire explanation but basically it is a three dimentional look at acutal ball flight. The D Plane was coined in Theo Jorgensen’s book “The Physics of Golf” which ultimately dispelled the belief of what created actual ball flight. It directly contradicts what we were originally taught about the correlation and the effects of path and club face. Recently I wrote an article in Golf Illustrated that referenced the D-Plane called “Same Swing, Different Ball Flight.” Trackman, which is the most accurate launch monitor on the market has brought true ball flight to the forefront and has educated many of us on how and what creates different ball flights. Thanks to John Graham, ,my twitter buddy from New York and one of the most underrated coaches in the business, have helped educate me on this subject of the D-Plane and I am a much better teacher/coach because of it. Here is an article from Trackman that is worth a read:          the secret of the straight shot, In the meantime check out my latest column in Golf Illustrated’s June Issue.  I have many great Guru TV ideas for the upcoming summer months so stay tuned. Federico Celano is starting to heat up and is very close to breaking through on the EGolf Tour, I appreciate all the kind remarks and encouragement that you have given him on the range as he is working very hard on his game. I will be doing more shows with Fed and other students in the Guru stable very soon.

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If you want to work with the Guru……….call 704-542-7635

See you on the lesson tee,



One of the most important thing that I do as a teacher is help my students understand why the flies the way it does or accurately read their ball flight. As a young (younger, haha) instructor, I was trained in the nine ball flights (possibilities)and the 5 ball flight laws. It stated that the a. path that the clubhead was traveling determined the starting direction and b. the face angle created the curve of the ball or deviation yet having a smaller influence on the flight pattern. This is NOT TRUE. Which brings us to the “D Plane“.

THE D PLANE FOR GOLF: This is a term that was coined by Theodore Jorgensen in his book “The Physics of Golf.” In his book he says something to the effect that two intersecting lines determine a plane. Basically this is where the(true) club face angle and the (true) path the club head is traveling create this plane. He calls it the D plane because of it is description of the collision between the club head and the golf ball. The D Plane shows that the ball almost starts where the club face is pointing (approximately 85% of the direction) and only curves if the path is going a different direction than the club face. In simpler terms, if the club face is a bigger influence on the starting direction than the path. The D plane also illustrates that the trajectory of the ball will be slightly lower than the true effective loft of the club. Have you ever hit a shot that started to the left of your target only to look down and see that your divot is pointing way to the right. You probably thought that you swung the club outside/in, right? The truth is, your d-plane was pointing too much to the left or your club face was pointing way to the left. This is what I have often called club face override. When the club face is closed or open approximately twice as much as the direction that you are swinging. So why is this so important? It explains true ball flight and this will help you to truly diagnose why you ball does what it does. Now you still will need an educated instructor to help to swing the club the way you need to and get you the ball flight you want. Check out the diagram below for further visual explanation.  Two things we are assuming are: 1) you are making solid contact and 2)you are hitting the ball at the bottom of your swing arc which is very difficult. Check out the illutration below. You see the target line, the true path(club head direction for a perfectly low point strike), club face normal(3 dimensional direction face is pointed) and initial ball directon(horizontal ball velocity direction). You can see that the true path(club head direction) is to the right of the club face and the initial ball direction is just right of the club face normal. This is a D Plane for a push draw. This is enough for you to chew on for now. Click to Enlarge for Better View

Here is a picture of Sergio Hitting a push draw and a great visual of the D Plane in action.

See you on the lesson tee,



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