In 2006, a Chicago-area attorney, Angelo Papadourakis, attended the PGA Championship at Medinah and noticed Thomas Bjorn, after a particularly poor round, working with his instructor, who was taking his club and phsyically maneuvering it into the proper positions, "like the first time he was playing the game," Papadourakis said.
"I thought, 'if he needs instruction like this, how is it that we as amateurs think we can go out to the range and hit 50 buckets of balls and get better?' We amateurs needed a feedback loop."
So he went to work on a device that evolved into the SwingSmart, a small lightweight (19 grams) sensor that attaches to the shaft just below the grip and provides instant feedback to your iPhone or iPad via a Bluetooth connection. Swing speed, tempo, face angle, angle of attack and a 3-D swing view are all provided.
The SwingSmart was developed with input from noted instructor Peter Kostis, who also is a spokesman for the product.
"Our original concept is, we measure the club," Papadourakis said. 'We wanted to find somebody I considered a proponent of golf motion and the motion of the club. Peter was the number one guy. I see his analysis every week on CBS. I like the fact that he's a neutral observer of the golf swing, that he wasn't necessarily a system guy. Peter saw the value in it immediately, which is great."
Kostis was helpful in the SwingSmart containing only the most useful information to keep it simplified. "He really narrowed it down for us, to keep it simple for everybody," Papadourakis said. "We made sure that as a golfer you want to be able to set your iPhone on your bag, look up and see the information. We don't want you to have to play with it. We made it simple on purpose."
One of its features is the ability to use what you would consider your best swing as the model with which to compare the rest of your swings.
"What you can do with this is use your own best swing as your swing model to pursue," Kostis said in a promotional video. "If you hit one just the way you'd like to hit it the rest of your life you push save on your [iPhone or iPad] and that swing now becomes your swing model."
The SwingSmart ($299) will be available later this spring through its website. The company also will have an infomercial with Kostis airing on the Golf Channel.
-- John Strege
Follow me on Twitter @JohnStrege