Optimotion

CBS's new tech is helping explode 3 golf swing myths—and mainstreaming these good ideas instead

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They were called Konica Minolta Swing Vision. You probably remember them, too. And they were my favorite part of golf broadcasts growing up.

These sub-90 second segments narrated by Peter Kostis gave a drive-by analysis on a relevant player’s golf swing. What they do well; what in their move is unique. It helped me understand what I was watching a little better, and fueled my budding golf swing nerdom.

Then, as everything in life does, things change. The technology coaches used grew more advanced, and so did our understanding of the golf swing. It was time for something new, but it remained unclear what, exactly, that something should be.

At the time, 3D golf swing systems—which can specifically measure even the smallest body movements as you swing a golf club—were extremely expensive and cumbersome. Often, players would need to wear a specific suit, or markers on their body. Not something you could ask a contender to do during the final round of a tournament.

But in recent years a more nimble version of the technology began sprouting. It began showing up on phones, it meant that for the first time, advanced golf swing data could be folded into broadcasts easier than ever before.

So starting in 2024, as part of a broader push incorporating more technology into its golf broadcasts, CBS partnered with GolfTec, and began measuring swings using the company's OptiMotion technology.

"We're not looking to add technology for technology's sake. We want to make sure the technology is additive to the viewer's experience," says Ross Molloy, senior vice president for talent, production planning, and technology development for CBS Sports. "Does it help them understand the action? Does it contextualize what they're seeing? Can they learn something to help their own game? That's what made this a great fit."

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Chris Condon

The process starts with a conversation between Golf Digest Top 50 coach Nick Clearwater and CBS analyst Trevor Immelman about which player, and what move in their golf swing they want to discuss. Clearwater runs the system in a CBS production truck then delivers the results to Immelman, who analyzes them on air during broadcasts.

"When I was playing, all we had were video cameras, and when you asked great players about their swing, they'll start talking about their feels, which don't necessarily match up with the data," Immelman explains. "That's fine, because great players feel what they need to feel, but with this technology you can see the data, and learn from it."

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It's music to the golf nerd's ears, and along the way, Immelman, Clearwater, and the CBS team have succeeded in mainstreaming some good, data-driven golf swing ideas we can learn from.

Yes, more turn is more powerful

There was once a school of thought that making a big backswing turn was important, sure, but perhaps a little overrated. Some thinking even insisted that shorter backswings could actually help you hit the ball longer, because it would prevent wasted energy.

But as Immelman and OptiMotion highlights often during these broadcasts: Pros make a huge shoulder turn, with both their hips and their shoulders.

"The flexibility and strength of these athletes is very impressive," Immelman says.

"That's probably the thing that I appreciate the most, seeing how big a shoulder turn those guys make," adds Molloy, an avid 6-handicap.

In this clip, you can see Immelman highlighting how Jason Day's hip turn has increased over the years as a way of preventing injury.

"How cool would it have been to run this on someone like Ben Hogan's golf swing?" said Immelman before the Memorial. Later that tournament, he decided to make good on that idea with golf's all-time major winner, Jack Nicklaus, to highlight how big a turn he made on the backswing.

"He makes a massive hip and shoulder turn," Immelman says. "More than 100 degrees of shoulder turn. And look at how his left knee works back away from the target on the backswing.”

No, you shouldn't have all your weight on your back leg

Another common idea of the past was that golfers needed to have nearly all their weight on their trail leg at the top of the backswing. As technology like this began taking a deeper look at the golf swing, they found that wasn't true: If you had that much weight on your trail leg at the top of the backswing, you wouldn't be able to get back to the golf ball in time.

Instead, as you can see in OptiMotion's clip of Scottie Scheffler below at the Masters, his weight is closer to 50-50 at the top of the backswing.

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Through a move called “re-centering,” players begin moving to their left side before the club has started down.

"His hips begin to sway towards the target in transition," Immelman explains in the clip of Ludvig Aberg below.

By impact, players’ hips have moved aggressively towards the target—more than six inches, in Scheffler's case.

"You've got to give them a little head start if you want to get them that far ahead of the ball by impact," Clearwater says.

Yes, your head does move

It's quite rare that you'll see a head stay perfectly still during their downswing. Look closely, and you'll see it tilt and turn, either to the left or right of the target.

As Golf Digest Top 50 coach Michael Breed explains in the video below, Rory McIlroy is able to swing out to the right and hit a draw because he tilts his head in a way that his eyes are pointing out to the right—he creates a "draw eyeline." A fade eyeline is the opposite: When your head is tilting so your eyes are pointing out to the left.

"Typically, the club will follow the eyes," Breed says.

Scheffler does an interesting variation of this: He creates a draw eyeline with a fade body shape, Breed says, and the result is the Scheffler' shuffle that we've all come to know so well.

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Clearly, it works.

"He has such an exceptional sense of clubface awareness," Immelman says. "He knows exactly where that thing is pointing."

There'll be more revelations to come, but a few months in, and golfers are starting to get their feed populated with some refreshingly good ideas. Maybe, they’ll even start seeing the results in their own games, too.