Ever wondered how Darth Vader hones his golf swing? Probably the same way Vijay Singh works on his, with the Sonic Golf S1 swing trainer. Old Darth would feel right at home with the high-tech marvel--it converts the player's swing into audio feedback that sounds exactly like a light saber. Vijay, who would probably wear a black helmet and cape to the course if he thought it would cut a stroke off his score, was an early adapter, using the device to create a more consistent tempo for his swing.
Dr. Robert Grober, inventor of the system, says that's what a good golf swing is all about--tempo. Solid takeaways, smooth transitions at the top, and acceleration through the ball all occur when the player's motion is rhythmic and fluid. The device he created provides biofeedback to help you find that rhythm and build it into your muscle memory.
The system begins with a sensor inserted inside the shaft of your club fitted with a custom Golf Pride grip. Your swing motion is transmitted wirelessly to a belt-worn receiver that converts it to continuous musical tones you hear on a headset as you swing. Slow swings produce a low pitch and quiet tones while fast ones increase the pitch and volume. The idea is to build a relaxed move that produces maximum speed at the bottom of the swing arc.
The demo I saw was impressive. Players with jerky, stiff swings created some terrible noise. Those who swung from the top invariably decelerated at the point of impact despite their efforts to muscle the ball down the fairway. Only a smooth, rhythmic swing produced pleasing harmonic sounds from beginning to end. This video has a good explanation by Grober.
Grober, by the way, knows whereof he speaks on both the golf swing and biofeedback. He's the Frederick Phineas Rose Professor of Applied Physics at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo