Through the lenses of a machine vision camera might be the last place you'd look to improve your golf swing but don't tell that to Dietmar Erhardt, owner of Classic Club Repair.
Located near Nuremberg, Germany, Classic Club Repair is a custom golf club manufacturer that relies on Mikrotron cameras to measure the swing of top golf professionals from the Europen tour, as well as amateur players. By using the cameras, Erhardt's team can evaluate the ball flight data in detail and, after the fitting, produce a complete set of clubs that is perfectly matched to the swing of the player. Over the past 30 years Classic Club Repair has measured over 20,000 players and adapted clubs customized for them. Besides in his shop, Erhardt travels with a mobile fitting lab, complete with Mikrotron cameras, to visit golf clubs and sporting events.
At first glimpse, swinging a golf club looks easy. However, it requires a high level of precision, physical control and coordination and is among the most technically challenging motion sequences in sport. The ball lies just above the ground and has to be hit accurately with a club head measuring just ten by five centimetres. On impact, the golfer must hit the face of the club at a precise right angle and while doing so, take the ground conditions, distances, wind strength and gradients into account.
Selecting the right club is crucial to the perfect golf swing. The club must be tailored to the individual measurements of the player as well as his or her unique requirements. If, for example, the club is too long, it becomes difficult to control. On the other hand, if it is too short, the player has to stoop, and achieving the correct shoulder turn from such a stance is challenging.
In golf stores, clubs tend to come in standard versions. These naturally suit players who match standard measurements. However, the majority of players don't fit the norm and require clubs that are custom-made.
This is where Erhardt brings his fitting service into play. The first step is to measure his customers. The ideal club length can be determined by using body height, distance from hand to floor and other factors. Then an analysis is performed of body movements. To do so, Mr. Erhardt uses the MotionBLITZ high-speed camera.
On average, a golf stroke is executed in just 0.8 - 1.5 seconds. The club head can reach a speed of up to 200 km/h when wielded by an experienced player. But such details of a swing can't be picked up with the naked eye. The MotionBLITZ EoSens mini1 provides detailed slow-motion recordings, which Dietmar Erhardt analyses. In addition to the Mikrotron cameras, Doppler radar systems are used to determine all relevant parameters such as departure angle, spin rate, club head and ball speed, flight length, landing angle and pitch length. After an extensive fitting, the player receives a video with his swing analysis. Two weeks later the clubs are ready for a successful round on the course.
The recordings provide important findings relating to the best material to choose for the shaft. For example, the greater the club head speed in relation to timing, the more the shaft is inclined to bend out of shape. For players with a fast, powerful swing, a less flexible shaft is therefore recommended. This allows the player to have increased control over the stroke. For older players or beginners with a slower, weaker swing, a shaft made from a more supple material is advised. With a shaft made from graphite, the weight shifts to the club head and the total weight is reduced, enabling improved acceleration.