Move Over Tiger Woods: Big Data Helps Discover The Perfect Golf Swing

Here's how big data can help us improve the game of golf with the perfect swing.
perfect golf swing
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Many years ago, Tiger Woods said “The More I Practice, the luckier I get!” While the general sentiment behind his statement is understandable, it has been shown that more informed golfers benefit the most from practicing. Advances in data analytics have offered tremendous benefits to astute golfers and other athletes.

Within the next five years, the global market for sports analytics is expected to reach $4.3 billion. Basketball, baseball and football have all gained a lot of publicity for discussing their utilization of big data. However, golfers can use big data as well.

Big data is a term that has been thrown around quite a lot in the last few years. More recently, we have heard about how it applies to sports, including golf. While businesses have been praising the benefits of big data on their enterprises, we are really only just learning about how much it can benefit the world of golf.

Data Analytics is Driving the Field of Golf

The term big data might still be relatively new, but data analytics has been in play with golf for years. We talked about the benefits of big data in sports like basketball. But what about golf?

In 2003, the PGA created a ball-tracking system called ShotLink. With ShotLink, the PGA was able to track every player’s stroke and the ball information, including speed, distance, spin, and many other pieces of information that are crucial.

All sports have been moving the direction of technological advancement as younger players continually enter sports. When data analytics hit the scene, it brought a place where both older golfers and younger golfers can come together to use this kind of data to become better golfers and improve the sport.

Naturally, as 2003 was already so long ago, the technology for ShotLink has further evolved into something even more advanced. The modern analytics uses high-resolution cameras, tracking apps, and other forms of technology that improves the information that the PGA is able to collect. This is where big data comes in.

Data Unlocked

Big data really came onto the golf scene in 2016 when a study was held, involving golfers at all levels, from pros all the way down to amateur golfers who operate with a handicap. This study used 225 terabytes of swing data, analyzing over 13,000 golf swings. This helped show the wonders of using big data in golf.

From this information, there were several conclusions drawn as to what makes one golfer better than another. The information unlocked six differences between the best and worst golfers. These differences include:

  • Shoulder bend at the finish of every swing
  • Shoulder tilt at the top of every swing
  • Shoulder tilt when the club connects with the ball
  • Hip turn when the club connects with the ball
  • Hip sway when the club connects with the ball
  • Hip sway at the top of every swing

The PGA then was able to take that information and break it down even further, discovering that they should aim their shots from 30 feet away, but putt at least 11 (but less than 20) feet from the hole.

Really, there is so much more information still out there. The study collected a lot of data, all of which unlocked how to become a better golfer and improve your swing.

How You Can Use It

Of course, this information might seem great in theory, but you might be hesitant about how to use it it in practice. Do not worry. You can actually use this information to help your golf game, even if it seems overwhelming. The best thing would be to have a golf coach guide you through where your game is at and what you might be able to do to become a better golfer in the future.

A coach might be out of the price range for many players, however. You can make up for this by buying a golf simulator. If you are worried about the golf simulator cost, do not worry. Golf simulators come in many different prices, going from the most affordable, all the way up to very expensive.

Big Data is Permanently Changing the Field of Golf

Using a golf simulator, you can see how your ball moves or where your swing is angled and use that information to further improve your golf swing, proving that big data can really help anyone.

Sean Mallon
Sean is a freelance writer and big data expert. He loves to write on big data, analytics and predictive analytics.