A long time in the making, the Men’s Golf Team finally has an indoor golf room in which to practice. In the past, when outside weather has not permitted play, the team has had to rely on a mat and net to practice. This has inhibited the team from reaching its potential over the years. Therefore, the plan to improve these indoor facilities by constructing a new indoor golf room with a cutting edge simulator was formulated many years ago. The money needed to fund it was likewise pledged long ago by generous alumni and donors connected to the team. However, Swarthmore College has been undertaking the construction of new facilities and the renovation of existing facilities in recent years, so the golf room kept being pushed further and further back in the queue. The school finally pledged to construct the room during the break, but team coaches and members were still unsure of whether it would happen.
Now, the room is a reality. It will be invaluable during the early spring months before the season commences at the end of March because golf courses and outdoor practice facilities are all closed due to the weather, rendering normal practice outside impossible. Even after the weather warms and the team is able to return to outside play at their home course (Springhaven Country Club), the new room will remain incredibly useful thanks to its quality and convenience. With the addition of the room, the long trips to the nearest driving range — thirty minutes away by team van — will become unnecessary. Swarthmore College now becomes one of only a few colleges in the Centennial Conference to have such a facility for their golf team.
Construction of the golf room was completed over the winter break, meaning it was ready for action as team members returned to campus. The room, located in the Mullan Tennis Center, features two parts: a short game area consisting of an artificial putting green as well as artificial rough and fairway surrounding it, and a long game area equipped with a TrackMan.
TrackMan is a state-of-the-art, yet extremely portable, golf radar system. The machine is about the size of a small laptop, and sits on a stand behind the hitting zone (where the player hits the ball). There are a multitude of sensors which track your club as you swing towards the ball and make impact. The TrackMan continues tracking the club as the swing completes, and tracks the path of the ball that has been hit. Based on measurements of the swing, the radar system predicts and shows the distance, direction, and trajectory of the shot, as well as offering up countless more statistics about the shot. The TrackMan machine pairs with a computer application, in which the shot visualization and statistics are displayed against a backdrop of a driving range or course. This is then projected onto a large screen covering the entire back wall (where the player hits towards), giving the impression that the player is hitting outside as normal. Essentially, the TrackMan is the closest thing you can get to actually hitting a shot on a real golf course or driving range. This makes it infinitely superior to the golf team’s previous setup, which was just a mat and a net. In that scenario, there was no way to know where the ball was going, but with the TrackMan, you can see the shot right in front of you.
The room also has a dozen large lockers, each with enough space to store a golf bag and a change of clothes. This way, team members can walk straight from the classroom to the golf room, without needing to stop by their dorms in between. Such convenience will allow the team to spend as much time in the room as possible over the coming months.
The TrackMan system — the centerpiece of the room — has three different modes: a range mode, course mode, and a combine mode. The range mode allows you to practice hitting shots, as if you were on a driving range. In course mode, you can pick a course from a selection of almost one hundred real-life courses, and play as many holes as you want to. This mode is certainly the most fun, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the two courses I have tried so far. The TrackMan visualizations of courses are stunningly accurate — it truly feels like you are playing these courses in real life! Combine mode is a testing mode where you hit to different sequences of targets on the range, aiming to get the highest score by hitting the ball as close to the targets as possible. This mode is particularly useful to use after you have been working on the technique of your swing, as it allows you to see if you are making tangible performance improvements.
Recently, three seniors on the team were interviewed by Brandon Hodnett, Director of Athletics Communications, on their thoughts of the new room and how they feel it can help improve the team’s performance this coming season. Dan Altieri ’19, one of the captains, was thrilled about the addition of the room.
“It’s more than we ever could have expected. I think this time last year we were chipping on the floor of the fieldhouse. Thanks to the hard work of the Athletics Department and our alumni, it’s been really special to have this [room].”
Nick DiMaio ’19 was very excited about the opportunities the room will bring for personal skill development of the team.
“This is going to take our games to a whole new level.”
Vamsi Damerla ’19 gave insight into how the room will help the team be much more prepared come the start of the spring season.
“Usually during the spring semester we’re not able to get going until our spring break trip, so now we can get a headstart starting in January,” Damerla said. “We have the ability to work on all parts of our game in this room, so I think it’ll be very helpful once the season starts and we’ll be able to hit the ground running.”
Three weeks of the semester have come and gone, and the room has already seen extensive use. The team is determined to make the most out of the new facilities, in an effort to build early momentum towards a concerted challenge to win the Centennial Conference championships in late April. The team has never achieved this feat before, but perhaps the new indoor room will provide the impetus needed to do so this year.