Golfers will try anything to take a few shots off their handicap, which explains the immense popularity of the latest golf tech.
From GPS watches to swing analysers golf is big business, and Garmin has become the biggest player in the market for watches and distance devices.
Now comes the TruSwing, its first swing analyser, which goes head to head with Zepp 2 to help users unlock the secrets of their swing with a bevy of connected sensors.
But is the Garmin TruSwing a miracle cure for a snap hook or mega slice, or is it a confusing data overload? We took it to the range to find out.
Garmin TruSwing: Design
Unlike Zepp 2, which fixes to the back of your glove, the TruSwing attaches to the club shaft and needs to be clipped just below the grip. You then press the solitary button to turn on Bluetooth and pair it with the Garmin Connect app.
The design is curious with obvious positives and negatives. The static, secure clamping onto the club shaft feels more accurate than Zepp's glove placement and there's a guide line to make sure you've got it placed properly.
The white mark on the TruSwing unit sits at the top, and helps you line it up with the club head before tightening the screw.
However, when you're at the range, changing the sensor between clubs is a faff. Having to unscrew the clip and change it over feels like a hassle, especially if you swap between clubs regularly as part of your training.
The key thing here though is the weight. The sensor only weighs 28g, and is genuinely unnoticeable through the shot. When we first screwed on the TruSwing we have to admit to being a little skeptical – the club felt unbalanced as we dismissively whooshed it around it front of us. But as we addressed the ball and swung through the shot, it disappeared.
So far so good with a lightweight design and a secure fit – but how easy is it to improve with? Read on to find out.
Garmin TruSwing: Data
So what data does the Garmin TruSwing capture about your swing? Well, a hell of a lot actually. The complete list includes club head speed, tempo, club path at impact, face to target angle, shaft lean at address, shaft lean at impact, shaft angle at address, shaft angle at impact and finally, dynamic loft.
You also get a 3D recording of each swing, which you can play back and compare to previous swings. It's a fairly complete set of data, and all the key information about your swing is contained within this range of numbers.
It's a slightly different data set to Zepp, which captures club speed, club plane, hand plane (not covered by Garmin), backswing angle, hip rotation and hand speed. However, both focus on the key aspects of your swing plane and club head angle, which are essentially the important bits for hitting the ball where it needs to go.
The only data we miss from the Zepp is on hip rotation, which it delivers from sensors in your smartphone, which work when it's placed in your pocket. However, Zepp doesn't place that much importance on hip rotation and doesn't colour code it with the rest of your swing, so no great loss.
Where Zepp has the run on Garmin is in the way it treats the data. Zepp's strength is the app – more on that later. Garmin's data feels confusing and a little impenetrable. There's no question that it's useful, but there's a technical aspect to the naming and labelling that makes getting an explanation from a professional almost essential.
Garmin TruSwing: Swing analysis and app
So let's run through the shot experience.
You get to the range and pull the Garmin TruSwing out of your bag, then attach it to your first chosen club. You press the button to turn on the Bluetooth and open the Garmin Connect. There should be loads of battery – we got four range sessions out of the TruSwing. It also charges by Micro USB, which is nice and easy.
Once it's paired you head into Garmin Connect and choose Swing Analysis from the list. You can then hit Record New Swing and you're good to go.
Now this is where things get a little clunky. Hit some balls and head into the app to review them. The TruSwing will automatically upload your shots into the Swing Analysis section, the latest one added to the bottom of the list.
Zepp shows your last shot immediately, so there's no navigation required, but with Garmin you have to go find that last 6 iron shot, which will be at the bottom of the list. That generally means backing out of the last viewed shot, scrolling down, and then tapping into the new shot. Every time you want to study a swing. It's really repetitive.
When you study a shot you get the 3D swing at the top, and the detailed data below – you just need to swipe up to view. That caught us out the first time, as it's not obvious that you need to swipe up.
If viewing on your phone, the viewing window for the 3D swing is also very small, and it's difficult to get your full avatar in view. That gets even more difficult when comparing two swings, which we found nigh-on impossible to manage on our iPhone 6S. A tablet obviously works much better.
There is an answer, however. Pairing the TruSwing to a Garmin golf watch – the Approach S20 and Approach X40 are both compatible – delivers stats straight to the wrist after every shot. There are pages of different stats to flick through, and you can focus on one set, and keep an eye on the numbers as you strike your practice shots. This makes it really easy to practice with, and totally transforms the experience.
So you're a golf improver who's not having lessons. You take TruSwing to the range to look at your swing and make some tweaks. Unfortunately, we can't understand how anyone could make head-nor-tail of the data in the Garmin app without professional help.
Unlike Zepp 2 where each metric in every shot is colour coded (red, amber and green) to show you where your swing needs work, Garmin Connect is just a muddled list of angles and numbers, and it's unclear how well you're performing.
But this actually plays into a weakness of Zepp, which we highlighted in its review. Despite Zepp's user friendly app and the wealth of content, if you're having lessons it can be counter productive to start tweaking your swing without instruction.
With TruSwing things are even more extreme. If you're solo on the range, we think it would be almost impossible to make it work for your game. However, take it to your coach and it can be an extremely powerful tool.
- Good placement for accuracy
- Great data
- Tough to understand
- App isn't under-friendly
- Swapping clubs isn't easy