GOLF EQUIPMENT

The Coach
lives up to high expectations

By Patrick Jones,
Senior Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. (Feb. 22, 2003) -- The likelihood of ever playing golf at the skill level of superstars Ernie Els or Greg Norman, or accomplished Tour players like Tom Pernice, Frank Nobilo or Greg Kraft, is a pipe dream for recreational golfers. The top professionals in the world have the benefit of perfecting their swings under the tutelage of the game's best coaches.

Many weekend and amateur golfers who aspire to make improvements can't swing the luxury of compensating a golf coach. But they do have the option of making an investment in their scoring futures by purchasing The Coach, a swing training and fitness device designed to teach golfers proper mechanics, improve stamina and increase distance.

Robert Baker, one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers, calls The Coach "the best training aid in the golf industry."

According to Baker, among the pros he has worked with who have spent time training their swings on The Coach have been, you guessed it, Els, Norman, Pernice, Nobilo, Kraft and about a dozen other Tour players.

"I put one in Greg Norman's hands last year," said Baker. "The Shark has one in his gym that he trains on."

Baker, founder of the Logical Golf teaching methodology, makes it clear that he's not on The Coach's payroll, nor does he get paid a commission per unit sold. But, based on his fervor for the product, he is definitely one of its most devoted disciples, remuneration or not.

"I'm not with them, but if I had to choose one product to align myself with I would choose The Coach," said Baker. "It's the best training aid there is. You learn how to swing the club, how to swing with speed, how to swing with balance. It improves your technique.

"It shows you the timing of the elements required to make the swing, when they should kick in," Baker continued. "It teaches you exactly which muscles to use and when. That's the beauty of it."

The Coach originally was developed in the late 1960s by Robert Fitch, the golf coach at Indiana University and a Ph.D. in physiology, for the benefit of his players in practice sessions and during the off-season. In the early 1990s, Fitch and teaching guru David Leadbetter collaborated on an updated version of The Coach. In the ensuing years, it has undergone several additional evolutions to produce the latest model.

"The premise behind The Coach was to develop a machine that would help golfers develop a solid, powerful, repeatable swing," said Ross Humphreys, a spokesman for The GolfCoach Inc., based in the Atlanta area. "To help golfers develop a swing that they can take out on the course under any conditions and depend on it to be consistent. Once you develop a consistent swing, you're going to be able to hit better golf shots, you're going to be able to shoot lower scores and you're going to become a better player."

A main difference between The Coach and most other training aids is that the machine provides different levels of resistance (depending on which of the three models you buy) and turns the learning of a correct golf swing into an isometric exercise.

"It's very hard with a golf club to feel the correct positions, the proper moves away from the ball and toward the ball," said Humphreys. "When you add resistance to the equation, now you're better able to feel where you need to be. Resistance helps you feel the correct positions that the machine promotes. It helps you ingrain positions and motions into your muscle memory. Using just a shaft, it's hard to feel the movements. Resistance provides that feel.

"The resistance should be secondary," added Humphreys. "The least resistance that you will feel is by using the proper swing, when your body, arms and hands are in perfect balance and harmony in a true one-piece swing."

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John Bell is a PGA instructor at the Canyon Ranch health resort and spa in Tucson, Ariz. He is one of The Coach's early converts and uses the machine for instruction and conditioning inside his state-of-the-art 3,500-square foot training and fitness facility.

"I ran into The Coach many years ago," said Bell. "I saw it. I liked it. I got it. Many instructors buy training aids like The Coach for selfish reasons: To help their own game along, but also to help their students. That's my mindset. I'm never going to get a training aid I don't believe in.

"It's been a home run for me," said Baker. "If someone is having trouble taking the club away from the ball, I immediately walk them over to The Coach. I can convey a correct takeaway with the machine faster than with any other teaching aid out there. It is also a great tool to develop a correct weight shift and fix the problem of a reverse pivot."

The suggested initial training schedule for The Coach is to use it three times a week in sessions lasting 10 to 15 minutes. Humphreys said it was beneficial to only use the machine for the first three weeks before going back out on the course.

"The reason why we want them to do that," said Humphreys, "is so that the new correct movements can become natural so that when they do get on the course they don't quickly revert back to what's feels natural, especially if what feels comfortable is wrong, which is frequently the case."

The Coach is not an inexpensive swing training device. It retails for $499. But carding better scores, most golfers intent on making significant improvements would agree, is priceless. If your logical reasoning dictates spending discretionary golf bucks on a training device with a track record of helping some of the game's best, getting your own The Coach might be the way to go.

Baker would certainly concur.

"It's an incredible teaching aid," said the man responsible for placing one in The Shark's personal gym. "If you use it correctly, you can feel the plane, you can feel the release, you can feel the coil, you can feel your trunk, you can feel all these things.

"At the same time you can work on your strength with The Golf Coach," Baker added. "You work out with it a few minutes and you're flat exhausted if you do it properly. If definitely improves your stamina, strength and flexibility. It's a great machine."

How to order

The Coach comes in three models: Red tension for ladies, juniors and seniors; Blue for men, strong women and strong seniors; and Black for strong men and low handicappers. For more information, visit www.golfcoachinc.com or call (800) 772-3813.

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