Golf tech and wearables have always been happy bedfellows – partly because it's a sport that can boast demonstrable benefits of strapping sensors to your body, and partly because golfers will pay any money to improve.
Enter SwingLync, a new wearable golf coaching system that's hitting Kickstarter this week, looking for $50,000 to become a reality. It consists of three wearable elements: a wrist band, a belt clip and a shoulder harness, which all connect to a mobile app via Bluetooth, to report on the metrics of your swing.
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It's created by Nick Mahowald, a former mechanical engineer who – like most crowdfunding entrepreneurs – got bored of the 9 to 5. Being a passionate scratch golfer, who also taught golf lessons to beginners, he decided to fuse these two worlds together.
"Before SwingLync came to be, our CTO wanted to become an adult and learn to play golf – so I started to teach him over the phone," Mahowald told Wareable.
"I'd say, 'hey Billy, I want you to rotate your shoulders to 90 degrees' – and it started to work. If I could teach him over the phone, that's when we realised this could work in a more structured environment," he continued.
So how does it all work?
"We don't measure anything on the club, grip, hand pressure – but what it will measure is what, through my experience in the golf industry, are the four key elements of the golf swing: shoulder rotation, hip rotation, spine angle and pelvic angle," Mahowald explained.
"The conventional golf swing was created by Ben Hogan back in the 1950s and he introduced those concepts and told everyone about them. All we are doing is measuring the things that instructors have been teaching for years. Our sensors look at how your body is petitioned and what you need to do to position your body correctly."
But of course, measuring is different to teaching – and mastering minute differences in your swing is the key to becoming a good golfer. How does SwingLync turn someone into a better golfer, rather than a poor golfer who knows the angle of their spine?
"What we're able to do is provide feedback, and say you need to rotate X degrees more to be in your ideal target position. We haven't finalised how we're going to go about teaching, but we will have simple and achievable drills that we can do to improve your swing and get to those ideal spots," Mahowald said.
There's no doubting Mahowald and SwingLync's passion and seriousness around its product and campaign. The fact that it's chosen to work with Kickstarter exclusively, asked for a modest amount of cash, and has a working prototype makes us confident this is the real deal.
SwingLync is also developed with real golf mechanics in mind, and is based on sound teaching advice – but it remains to be seen how effective it is as a teacher. The app experience will be key here, something we've seen demonstrated in the differences between Zepp and Garmin TruSwing, for example.
It will also have to be clear about who it's aimed at. Personally, as an improving golfer, most of my problems (so my coach says) are about swing path and set up. Could I benefit from SwingLync? I'm genuinely not sure, and that might provide a barrier to adoption.
SwingLync hits Kickstarter today, and the company is looking for $50,000, which Mahowald says will generate enough orders to "purchase sensors and inventory at a sufficient price point to deliver the product and finalise all the product development."
It costs $179 for super early birds, and will eventually retail for $300.