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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.
October 6, 2010
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, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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