Hi-tech Banting chips in to aid major swing

Billy Mckenzie with the Spanish Amateur trophy. Picture: Adolfo Luna, Spanish Golf Federation

Mckenzie in dreamland after ‘unbelievable’ win

Technology in golf has never been so advanced.

Clubs have never been better. Balls have never been better. Even the courses have never been in such good condition.

So why has the handicap of the average player not got better?

The average club handicap is somewhere between 16 and 18.

But it has been like that for years.

So why haven't the longer, straighter, most forgiving, slice-eradicating woods, irons and putters helped us club players like they have the pros?

The answer may not be difficult to fathom out.

We may use the same clubs as Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood but there's one crucial difference.

Every club the pros pick up and play with has been tailored to their exact needs.

It's the right club for their height, their stance and their swing.

What do we do?

We think nothing of using a friend's old clubs, hoping they'll weave their magic for us, too.

It doesn't matter if the friend is 6ft 3in tall and we're 5ft 8in – a club's a club, right? Wrong.

And there lies the big problem.

To get the best out of golf, we should use the clubs which suit us.

And that's where technology can help us, too.

Don't take my word for it – listen to Jason Banting.

He's an experienced golf coach – he was The News' On the Green coaching guru for years, when he worked at Crookhorn and Quindell – and is now working at Silvermere.

It's in Cobham, Surrey, and is the busiest retail outlet on any golf complex in Europe.

And Banting says it's the club that matters, not the name on the sole.

'I see a lot of people using clubs that just don't work for them,' he said. 'It makes sense that a club that is ideal for someone who is 6ft with massive hands won't be ideal for someone who is 5ft 8in wi-th small hands.

'The shaft and its flex, clubhead speed, the launch angle, loft and the thickness of the grip are all vital if a player wants to get the best out of their clubs.'

And, like the clubs themselves, technology has come a long, long way.

Every player can have their swing and shots analysed by a powerful computer system which ensures they use the club which suits them.

Banting – who coaches European Tour winners Steve Richardson and Phil Golding, as well as former Pompey player Peter Crouch – said: 'As we analyse the swing, we can match the player to the club which will work best for them.

'It doesn't matter which make it is – we have the lot here.

'They can try them all to get the one they like, and which the computer says hits the ball better than the others.'

The computer system is called FlightScope.

It's a radar tracking system that records players' swings and translates them into easy-to-understand data on a computer screen.

By looking at the data, Banting can see where the club is helping – and where it's not.

'A player will usually start with their own club, and when they have taken a few shots we'll look at the results,' he said.

'Then we may look at a new club, perhaps from a manufacturer they are comfortable with or have used before.

'They hit a few balls, can watch the ball fly and we'll look at the data together.

'It may be that after seeing the results, I can suggest a different club with a different shaft with a different flex.

'I might suggest another make of club that I think will benefit their swing. They can try that, see how they get on, and then we'll look again at the results.

'We can put the results into a table and see how the clubs perform against each other and which statistically is the best one.

'We can together find the club that works for them.

'Just because a TaylorMade or a Yonex works for one person, it doesn't mean it'll work for everyone.

'Some people will come here and know they want a certain make of club – they have always used Ping, for example, and want to be fitted to the new Ping clubs. That's fine.

'The computer is great – it shows how the ball reacts when the player hits it.

'It doesn't lie. It shows what club is ideal for the individual.

'We don't want to generate too much backspin, and we want the player to find the middle of the club regularly.

'Some people are just unaware the clubs they are using are hindering them, not helping. We can help sort that out.

'If someone has a handicap and they want to improve, I think feedback like this is vital.

'There's no guesswork any more.

'We can get real in-depth analysis.

'Amateurs can have the same assistance as the pros to get clubs that suit them and help them improve.'

And if the new custom-fitted clubs don't work, then it's back to see the pro. This time for lessons…

Anyone can book a club-fitting session with Jason Banting, whether they are buying a new set or not.

The cost of an hour-long session is 40, but 20 is refunded if a new set of clubs is bought at Silvermere.

Call 01932 584325 for details.