Steamboat Springs girls golf team learns vital skills in indoor world
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The grass is always greener on the screen for spring golfers.
Entering Steamboat Springs High School head golf coach Shannon Hanley’s golf studio is like opening the door to Narnia.
Members of the Steamboat Springs High School girls golf team can escape the blizzard-like outdoors and experience the greens at Augusta National or Pebble Beach.
“I got the Trackman while living in Steamboat because trying to make a living as a golf pro is hard because the seasons are so short,” Hanley said of the golf-simulation application. “This studio has always been a dream of mine and obviously introducing this kind of technology, when there’s not many Trackman in the state, and to come in and use it for evaluation of swings, is an invaluable tool to help advance a player in their career.”
Hanley owns one of four Trackmans in the state. It’s a technology she became familiar with while spending time on the LPGA European and Asian tours.
The Trackman is a tablet that projects a virtual world on a screen. Steamboat Sailors golfers can practice using any club and evaluate the speed at which the ball travels as well as what angles and how far it carries in the air and rolls on the ground.
All of the data is collected and can be printed for reference. If Steamboat Springs senior Taylor Moore needs to hit a ball approximately 115 feet, she knows to reach for her seven iron.
Moore steps up to the screen to drive a few shots. Hanley places a small orange cone in her path and tells her to aim for it. Moore swings and waits a few seconds for the numbers to calibrate.
Hanley takes out an iPad and films Moore’s next swing from the side.
“I can watch the swing frame by frame, so you can see how, when she pulled back, she dropped her body. When she comes through, her head comes up, so she topped the ball,” Hanley said. “Now, I can show her that video and say, ‘Hey Taylor, watch how much your head goes up and down.'”
Measurements are extensive and detailed.
Carry is how far the ball travels through the air. The higher the glide, the more likely it is to stop on the green.
Total yardage is how far the ball rolled out since it hit the ground. The spin rate tells how high the ball is going to fly.
The launch angles vary with each club, but if you were to drop your club and step on its head, that should give you the launch angle of the ball you hit.
When Hanley didn’t have the golf studio, the girls would practice in the boys locker room at the school. Now, the girls also share time with other sports on the turf in the gym, hitting cork balls against the wall. They also enjoy weekly yoga sessions in the golf studio.
“The kids don’t have anywhere to practice,” Hanley said. “We don’t have a chance against the ladies in Grand Junction because they are out on the grass. It’s pretty impressive and comforting for me, as a coach, to see their growth.”
Hanley likes keeping the team small, it creates a strong bond and also allows her to develop each player.
The 2019 Sailors girls golf team has nine members, including seniors Moore and Althea Ort, who have been members of the team since its inception in 2016.
Last week, the team of Moore, sophomores Rylee Moore and Sophia Gowdy and freshmen Caroline Henninger and Grace Johnston took second place in a scramble tournament at Chipeta Golf Course in Grand Junction.
Hanley was thrilled to see her team podium, but more importantly, she hopes that she can make the most of this snowy golf season by providing instruction that transcends sports. She teaches the importance of nutrition by having them compete to make the best tasting protein shake while also varying workouts to include yoga to promote coordination and flexibility.
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