If you spent much time involved with golf instruction over the last few years you’ll be familiar with the force plate. Used indoors as part of a teaching system, the force plate allows the student and golf coach to see the placement of body pressure in the feet for the golfer at the address and throughout the golf swing. Professionals use it to point out balance issues and swing flaws and it is quickly becoming a more common accessory at teaching labs and coaching studios throughout the world.
The problem, up until now at least, is that such systems, as beneficial as they are, are limited to use in an indoor or very stationary setting. Yes, some force plates are used outside but the size and scale of the systems makes them far from portable. They are also prohibitively expensive.
Those are all real issues. It’s especially so as the numbers and feedback that force plates provide would be helpful for coaches in diagnosing student’s issues in multiple outdoor situations. For example, on the putting green, on a sidehill or downhill lie, or even in playing a bunker shot.
The Vista BodiTrak SHIFT system aims to change the landscape of pressure mats in golf as it can handle the above tasks. It’s the world’s first portable golf pressure mat, costs way less than most force plate systems, and remarkably, is being made in Canada.
The company behind Boditrak, VISTA, is owned by PatienTech, a leading manufacturer of pressure mapping systems in the medical field. Mr Robert Golden is the principal leading the project. He acquired VISTA several years ago.
Robert founded the first company in the field of pressure mapping in the 1980’s – Tekscan – an industry leader in pressure sensitive films in Boston.
Tekscan, under Roberts direction, developed a prototype golf system in 1992 that was featured on the cover of Golf Digest. The system was well received, but at a $10,000+ price point, an in-sole-only form factor and no wireless capability, it lacked the attributes needed for long-term success.
The BodiTrak system takes all the benefits of that decades-0ld technology and matches it with a new lightweight smart material used in the mat. Embedded in the material are all the sensors necessary to transmit the data used to provide a 3D map of how your feet interact (on a linked computer) as they rest and move on the surface of the mat. You can actually roll it up and carry it around in a tube. It can also be linked to camera and other Inertial Motion Units or Radar Systems for complete Swing Metrics and Digital Analysis.
Of course, taking this technology from the medical field to golf is ideally led by somebody connected to the business and that “somebody” is a familiar face in the world of Canadian golf, Terry Hashimoto.
Recently Hashimito, who rose to prominence as the founder of Canadian golf equipment company Jazz Golf, has been on the road promoting the new system. It has included successful visits to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando and stops at several leading club fitting and teaching facilities in Ontario and Florida. (He’ll also be at the Toronto Golf Show in a few weeks)
The member of the Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame is more than excited about the potential of BodiTrak for golf coaches worldwide.
“The BODITRAK SHIFT SYSTEM does for Teaching Golf what GPS did for Navigation – it completely changes the game.”
Hashimoto says the goal for the business is to deliver 300 units to key customers and using feedback from that community they will make regular updates to the user interface as they receive requests.
At $2950 it is not a small investment but compared to the alternatives it looks pretty attractive. The price includes a WiFi connectivity upgrade, carrying case and free programming updates as they become available.
A website exclusive to the system is yet to be established but you can see more on the technology used at the Vista Medical website.
You can also search for the word “BODITRAK” on YouTube for some various clips that Hashimoto has posted.