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Staying sharp in the offseason: "My Personal Golf Trainer" with David Leadbetter for the Wii

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
David Leadbetter's My Personal Golf Trainer
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Don't let the Wii name fool you. David Leadbetter has put together a serious instruction program with "My Personal Golf Trainer." (Courtesy of "My Personal Golf Trainer")

As autumn's chill settles over the Midwest, I'm frantically trying to get in all the golf I possibly can -- shirking my other responsibilities by rationalizing that once winter is here, I won't be able to work on my golf game at all.

And as always at this time of year, I feel so close to breaking through to a new level of consistency. (But then again, I am also certain that Scarlett Johansson is going to call me up any day now and tell me that she cannot live without me.)

Given that there are no indoor golf centers near where I live, I am limited in what I can do during the winter months, aside from a few rounds of Tiger Woods golf on the Wii with my 7-year-old son. But that game does nothing for my real golf game. The fact that my son holes it out from the fairway regularly for eagle on par 5s and beats me most of the time suggests to me that it's not quite realistic.

Of course, if I had lots of extra money, I could buy an indoor golf simulator. But my family would probably like to keep eating and avoid foreclosure on our home, so that's out.

Happily, golf instruction guru David Leadbetter has teamed with IMG Academies and some very clever softwear designers at XS Games. Their combined efforts have produced "My Personal Golf Trainer" for the Wii, which is probably the best option available for folks like me over the winter months.

The trainer is not -- I repeat not -- a game. It's a thorough step-by-step instructional series that takes you from the very basics of the grip and posture to actually playing a round of golf.

It works on any Wii system, but requires the Wii MotionPlus add-on for the controller. It's also beneficial to have a Wii Balance Board for some of the drills.

The instruction starts out fitting a golf grip onto the somewhat differently shaped Wii controller. It's sort of an awkward feeling at first, but it's relatively easy to get used to fairly quickly. Somewhat more irritatingly, though, is the video of Leadbetter talking between drills for several minutes. Then the drill lasts 20 seconds, followed by more talking. For all but a rank beginner, this initial part of the instruction will get tedious pretty fast.

As for actual practice, more advanced players can jump ahead to various drills or practice on the virtual driving range. I must admit that I could never get used to the difference in weight and kinetic feedback between a real golf club and the Wii controller. No matter how much I tried to let the Golf Trainer provide feedback as to club position, swing plane, face angle, etc., I just could not feel any of it; consequently, it all felt like guesswork.

On the range, I found it very interesting that no matter how hard I swung (or how easy), my ball flight was straight down the middle, but my distance was pretty short. In fact, I was consistently "driving" the ball 225-240 dead straight. Anyone who has played with me knows that this is nothing like my game (I'm more of a 300 yards down the middle of the next fairway sort of player.)

Apparently, however, I am in the minority on this point. I have been told by some of those associated with the development and marketing of the game that at demos at the PGA Equipment Show and other events, people have been "amazed at how the trainer picks up on exactly their predominant ball flight."

Nevertheless, the extensive feedback that the system provides is certainly better than no practice at all for people in my situation. In fact, this is precisely the motivation for designing the system.

According to David Leadbetter:

"Ideally, you'll be going out and hitting a lot of balls because golf is about feel and you lose that feel unless you're actually doing something constructively. Unfortunately, today people have a lack of time to go and practice. With "My Personal Golf Trainer," in just a few minutes you are able to spend some quality time practicing and really making each swing, and knowing you are doing it correctly. A few minutes at home is a great way of maintaining that feel and allowing yourself to swing consistently. Because it's all about consistency, and if you're not playing a lot or not practicing a lot, you lose that consistency."

Truer words were never spoken. And short of moving to a warmer climate or risking penury, "My Personal Golf Trainer" is the best option for many golfers seeking some quality practice during the winter months.

The system comes in both NTSC and PAL formats, and retails in the U.S. and Canada for $99. For more information, visit www.mypersonalgolftrainer.com.

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.

 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • "My Personal Golf Trainer"

    http://www.worldofgolftips.com wrote on: Apr 1, 2011

    I have a golf buddy who has the David Ledbetter "My Personal Golf Trainer" on his Wii and I have used it several times on some rainy days. I would have to say that it is better than no practice but, I found it to not be very accurate. I know that I drive a ball a lot further than it says but, it is indeed, the best option for many golfers seeking some quality practice during the winter months or on rainy days. I reccomend giving it a shot.

    Reply

  • Tiger Woods 2011

    Lou Clark wrote on: Dec 28, 2010

    In my previous comment I was using TW 2011 in the Tour
    In my previous comment on TW 2011, I was using the Tour Pro swing difficulty and normal gameplay difficulty which requires Wii Motion Plus.I would be surprised if your son could achieve 10 over par with these settings. There is a big jump in difficulty between swing difficulty steps. For example using the All-Play
    difficulty which is similar to Standard and Advanced; I play with no bogees,lots of birdies and an occas onal eagle say 14 below par for 18 holes.Using pro difficulty I would be 3-4 over par.At this setting in my opinion,this is a serious game with a lot of training features.

    Reply

  • Tiger golf 2011

    Lou Clark wrote on: Dec 25, 2010

    I am not very experienced having only hit wiffle balls in the back yard until they go straight and sort of long as these never go very far.
    I have been using Tiger 2011 with the Chicken Stick and with some players at some holes I can drive 305 yards in this game but usually about 270. I can get some pars and a few birdies so I would really like to know how your son does it.How long are your drives and can you get a lot of pars.This game also appears to be a trainer as it shows the in or out of swing,accuracy and % sweet spot.

    Reply

  • Market pricing

    Ian Burton wrote on: Oct 26, 2010

    At $100 in the US this is not cheap, but looks like a good market price. At $150 for the European version it looks like product marketing got it totally wrong. The only difference seems to be the NTSC driver has been replaced with a PAL driver. There's no language translation costs since it's just the same English version. There are no additional development costs (as there would be for a left-hander version) So why the $50 price hike?
    Global market forces work both ways. At the equivalent of $100 in any European currency, it would be still expensive but there would be buyers. At $150 (£99.99 in the UK) people will see that they're being abused since they will already know the US price.
    The golf equipment manufacturers already understood this years ago, so why don't the producers of this DVD/Wii product get the message? This is dumb marketing that failed 20 years ago.

    Reply

  • Real swing analyzer vs. a real swing analyzer

    Golfuncle wrote on: Oct 6, 2010

    @Monique: I think the point he was making is that his drives *should* be dead-on, however it was the yardage that was unexpectedly low.
    I raised this with the developer, and they had explained to me that the speed/distance is the one aspect that is less accurately estimated due to the necessity of using the Wii Remote's built in accelerometer which maxes out at 3.4G (and a real swing is obviously much more powerful). Given the variation of swings I have seen with My Personal Golf Trainer (my own, and many friends) I would say that the speed and distance is pretty damn accurate until players of a particularly high calibre try it out.
    I have to say, I've been pretty impressed up to now with using it as a swing analyzer. It picks up things that most expensive analyzers can't (i.e. your plane/angle during the entire swing, and your balance).

    Reply

  • Real swing analyzer vs. a toy

    Monique Gaudet wrote on: Oct 6, 2010

    I work for P3ProSwing golf simulators. If you're looking for a way to indoor golf with your own clubs and 99% accuracy, check us out. And we just lowered our prices, so you can get a golf simulator for $999.
    I understand if you don't publish this, but from your article it looked like you weren't fooled by the dead on drives you were making on the Wii. More times than not, personally I tend to hit a fade. I'm working on it though!
    Best Regards,
    Monique Gaudet

    Reply

      • RE: Real swing analyzer vs. a toy

        George wrote on: Jul 20, 2011

        @Monique: It's not actually a toy and works quite well especially less than for $99 now ($84.95). Not many people want to spend a grand on a simulator. Get it down to $300-$350 and people will look at you more seriously.

        Reply

  • Wii Golf Trainer

    Jim Faradey wrote on: Oct 6, 2010

    I bought this for my 8-year old son in hopes of getting him hooked on golf and I haven't let him play it yet. I've had a lot of fun analyzing my swing arc and figuring out my clubface position at impact. Very cool. I was able to get mine with free shipping from the leadbetter store at http://www.playbetterstore.com

    Reply

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