On New Year’s Day I wrote that the internet was opening up yet another avenue for golfers: the online video golf lesson.
I questioned the true value of such an experience as it lacks the instant feedback of one-on-one instruction and within two days I had received an invitation from WebGolfCoach to go through the process for myself.
I have finally done so.
WebGolfCoach is based in the U.K. They have three teaching pros involved and a customer can choose which pro he or she wants to use. Their bios are on the site and they have plenty of experience. My teaching pro was Garry Forrester who teaches at St. Andrews in Scotland. Not a bad place to start a lesson!
There were some steps I had to follow to get set up. First, I had to download the video software from WebGolfCoach’s site. They use V1 software which comes in two versions: basic, which is free and premium which costs you (all prices are in pounds sterling on the site).
I opted for the basic software which is just fine for most uses. It comes complete with the video of dozens of professional golf swings so there’s plenty to look at besides your own!
I’m fairly computer literate but the software is a little finicky to load. However, all was fine in the end.
My next step was to record my swing. I enrolled my teaching pro, Mark Greenwood, and off we went to a nearby golf dome here in Toronto.
Mark did the shooting. I used a tiny digital camera called The Flip. Very cute but the video quality could have been better. As it turned out, the digital recording was okay – but just.
WebGolfCoach’s site points out that the camera should be 6 megapixels or better. Follow that advice.
Anyway, Mark shot and I hit. The final step was uploading the video via the V1 software to Garry Forrester in Scotland. Here I had some niggling problems and issues with V1.
Each video file you send via V1 cannot exceed 10 seconds in length. My camera shot in AVI files. V1 didn’t like that very much so when I tried to reduce the files to 10 second lengths and re-save them, I couldn’t. Fortunately, Mark had shot enough “takes” that I found two versions that were under 10 seconds each: a down-the-line view and a face-on view.
I successfully sent each of them off to Garry for his opinion.
Within two days, he had replied and his analysis was thorough and detailed. I saw things in my swing that surprised me; Garry saw them, too and offered clear explanation and advice – his voice accompanied my swing images along with the neat little computer lines drawn here and there to illustrate his points.
In short, I was impressed. The cost is very reasonable and it’s a great use of the internet and video software technology.
It really is long-distance learning but is it better than working side by side with a pro?
No. However, it’s not trying to be.
Keep in mind that there is an extra demand placed on anyone who uses these services.
You have to record your swing and the better you do that, the better the quality. Think about where you shoot your swing, the lighting, the background and, of course, the camera itself. You also need someone who knows how to shoot properly. Jerky hand-held video won’t work! Brace that camera and steady it!!
And you need some computer savvy. Not a lot but you do need to know how to upload video files from camera to computer and from computer to teaching pro. If you can’t get past the table of contents in Computing for Dummies, then this isn’t for you.
Finally, some thoughts on internet golf swing analysis.
WebGolfCoach is one of a number of companies offering this kind of teaching. How do you assess them?
I would suggest you assess them as you would any golf school: who are the instructors, what’s their experience, what are the initial points of contact like (is the company prompt in replying, polite, does it go the extra mile, etc.) and finally, of course, is the swing analysis clear and helpful?
When I apply these points to WebGolfCoach, my conclusion is these guys are genuine and they’re good.