Hitting a sweeter spot

1 min read

A Norwegian-designed system could help the world's estimated 61 million golfers improve their swing.

Golfers wanting to improve their skills often use video filming to study their balance and correct their movements. But there is more to an optimal stroke than just balance.

With this in mind Norway's Initial Force has developed a force platform custom-made for golf training, called the Swing Catalyst. The company is located in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Innovation Centre at Gloshaugen in Trondheim and co-operates closely with the university's programme in Human Movement Sciences. Designed specifically for professional instructors, the first prototype of the platform is now being tested in NTNU's movement analysis laboratory.

The system consists of two main components working together - the force platform and video analysis software.

The golfer enters the platform - which can be adjusted to suit the individual - and strikes the ball. The platform registers the golfer's every movement, and a camera films the swing of the stroke.

The platform contains multiple load cells - points that register all forces involved between the feet and the ground. It also registers the body's rotating movement in detail as the club is swung. The information is added to the video image as easily- understood colour markings.

'What the platform registers is impossible to see with the naked eye and cannot be caught using only a video camera,' explained Steinar Bråten, former trainer for Norway's national ski jumping team, and co-owner of the company.

'These details are important when creating the best starting point for the stroke. And if you manage a really good stroke you can store this movement and try to recreate it.'

The company has also received help with the commercialisation process from the NNTU's technology transfer fund. Swing Catalyst is, at first, set to retail at about £16,000, with the price gradually decreasing to about £8,000 as production is increased.

Although the system is expensive, Initial Force is confident that the price will not deter people, particularly as golf simulators used for entertainment often cost more than £40,000.