What if you could experience the exact same clubfitting system used by Sergio Garcia, Paula Creamer and other professional golfers? What if you could tap into the most advanced personal fitting technology in the world? What if you could have clubs affordably built to your personal specifications and delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days?
Well, at TaylorMade Performance Labs, what sounds like a dream is actually a reality.
Indeed, when you book a two-hour session for $400 at a TaylorMade Performance Lab, every facet of your game, including putting, is precisely analyzed by TaylorMade’s proprietary MATT imaging system.
But can the average golfer benefit from subjecting his or her swing to the unerring eye of such high technology? Following is PutterZone.com’s review of the TaylorMade Performance Lab experience at Aviara Golf Academy at the Four Seasons Resort in Carlsbad, California.
TaylorMade established its MATT (for Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade) system nine years ago, basing it on technology originally developed for the motion picture and video game industries.
Initially, the MATT system was accessible only to TaylorMade’s tour staff professionals. Four years ago, however, it was made available to the rest of us with the launch of the TaylorMade Performance Labs.
The TaylorMade Performance Lab in Carlsbad is one of seven locations in the nation, and one of 10 worldwide.
The TaylorMade MATT system consists of 28 reflective markers placed on the golfer and six reflective markers on the club, which are then captured by nine high-speed cameras. A computer crunches and quantifies the data in real time, immediately rendering a three-dimensional animation of the golfer’s swing. The system ultimately crunches a wealth of data, including ball position, posture lines, impact location, swing speed, club path, lie and face angles at impact.
A fitting professional analyzes the data and, along with the computer, makes specific equipment recommendations based on your swing and mechanics, including head type, shaft flex, shaft length, lie angle and face angle. Afterward, you have the option of purchasing custom-fit TaylorMade clubs built according to the recommendations at competitive prices. Included in the session price are printouts and a CD-Rom detailing your session and club recommendations.
The View from PutterZone.com
As an average recreational golfer, I had to face some common assumptions and hesitations before pursuing a personal fitting, such as: (1) it’s too expensive; (2) I should wait until I really improve my game before going to the trouble of a fitting; and (3) although I wouldn’t admit it out loud, do I really want to see all of my swing flaws laid bare on a computer screen?
Well, it turns out that it’s not too expensive, considering the return on investment. And waiting to improve your game before getting properly fitted equipment is doing things backwards, because you need the right equipment in order to maximize your potential. As for having all of your swing flaws laid bare, well, you’ll just have to get over it. I did. And so begins my story…
As instructed, I arrived 20 minutes before my session to loosen up on the range. I was greeted by the fitting professional, Robert Assman (pictured here), who set me up with balls and tees. Trust me, you want to warm up as much as possible before putting your swing under a microscope.
At the appointed time, Robert steered me into the “lab,” which is really a nondescript little structure that just happens to be loaded with high technology. After a brief questionnaire, Robert applied the MATT sensors to my body—white knobs protruding from black Velcro fittings around my waist, knees, elbows, shoes and hat.
If you ever get a bit nervous on the first tee with others watching you, then you’ll relate to the fact that it was initially a bit unnerving for me to be hitting balls into a net while a fitting professional and a computer performed real-time autopsies on my swing. Soon enough, however, I settled into a groove, assisted by Robert’s easygoing manner.
Robert started me with a six iron, followed by a wedge, driver and putter. Along the way, I was able to watch three-dimensional, 360-degree replays of my swing on an overhead monitor. It was rather mind boggling to see the MATT system in action, revealing every detail about how I was approaching and striking the ball. At one point, Robert played my swing next to Justin Rose’s swing (see image above). Talk about humbling.
Simply put, the technology was a marvel to behold. Better yet, however, was the fact that Robert truly brought the data to life, showing me how and why certain things were happening.
For example, the computer imaging revealed how I tend to throw my hands out on the downswing, forcing me to compensate by shortening my arms at impact. But it was Robert who explained that the casting of my arms is largely due to the fact that my torso has a tendency to drift right and away from the target, throwing my “stack and tilt”-inspired swing off kilter. That knowledge alone immediately made me a better golfer.
During the putter analysis, I was appalled to learn that with the Anser-style Daytona blade, I had the face several degrees closed at address. Oh well, it’s fairly common for the eyes to play tricks, which is why many amateurs are plagued by alignment issues. My setup alignment was improved when we switched to a center-shafted putter without offset. As a toe-flow blade fan, however, that’s a tough pill to swallow. Can I have a mulligan?
Ideally, I would have liked to see more time applied to the putting portion of the fitting session, including more insights into such facors as putter length, other hosel options and different grip sizes. But that’s just nitpicking, considering that there’s only so much you can do in a few hours.
After the fitting session, we returned to the range, where Robert had me test a variety of clubs reflecting the recommendations developed through the MATT analysis. These recommendations included a TaylorMade Burner Rescue #3 to replace my three iron, a set of TaylorMade Tour Burner irons (4 through SW) with an upright lie angle with regular flex Nippon steel shafts, two traditional blade wedges, and a TaylorMade R9 driver and R9 3 wood adjusted to two-degrees closed. The fitted irons, in particular, brought an immediate and noticeable improvement in my ball striking.
The great thing is that I can acquire the suggested clubs at my own pace. If I can’t afford the R9 driver at the moment, I can still get started by replacing my current irons and save up for the R9. The important thing is that I know what I need to purchase in order to raise my game, be it now or later. I will publish a follow-up review after I put the new clubs into play.
The Bottom Line
The TaylorMade Performance Lab experience is highly recommended for any golfer wishing to tap into the power of properly fitted equipment. The MATT session offers convenient and relatively affordable access to tour-level fitting technology amid a friendly, non-intimidating environment. It’s hard to imagine an easier way to immediately raise your game.
P.S. The best lodging option for a TaylorMade Performance Lab experience in Carlsbad is the adjacent Four Seasons Resort. It is by far the closest lodging option, just a two-minute drive from the lab. Also, it enables your family to enjoy some pampering while you’re off playing with TaylorMade’s high-tech toys. Click here to check out the resort.