ORLANDO — Heidi Hanna did not learn how to play golf on a golf course. Instead, she learned the game while wearing pajamas in the comfort of her living room.
Hanna is the marketing coordinator at ShadowChaser 3D, which has developed software to help golfers perfect their swing and learn the proper fundamentals.
Hanna says the software is perfect for people who have always wanted to play golf but were too embarrassed to get out on the greens. “Now they have their very own instructor at home,” she says.
The golf program is pretty simple to use. All you need to get started is a computer, digital camera or scanner, software and a picture of yourself demonstrating your swing or stance.
Once golfers download their pictures, they are able to visualize their mistakes and bad habits with the help of a computer-generated model.
With the click of a button, golfers can see their swing in a head-on, horizontal, vertical or side view. They can superimpose the perfect “shadow” model onto their image and instantly see the differences.
“With the software, we can put a person’s image within the model and repeat the motion over and over again to breed correct technique,” says David Leadbetter, a golf instructor involved in ShadowChaser 3D.
The model can be in a solid color or translucent, which enables the golfer to see where to put their hands or how to bend their elbows.
“It allows you to jump into the model and see the fundamentals being done correctly,” says Hanna.
The idea for the program was created by Donald Armour and Arno Hovius, both professional golfers from Europe. Hovius’ knowledge of body motion has helped develop the individualized golf swing. His extensive background in physical therapy and his work with top European athletes inspired him to develop the perfect swing.
Armour is a former player on the European Tour. His career included victories at the Dutch National Open Championship and the European PGA Club Professional Championship. He also founded his own company, Friends of Golf N.V., in Nunspeet, Netherlands.
His specific expertise in the project has been the commercial and business sides of golf. Once the two men came together, they incorporated other American golf professionals and businessmen in their plans.
With the help of professional golfers, Armour and Hovius have been able to create a fundamentally sound model for golfers to follow.
“ShadowChaser 3D gives people the opportunity to mimic and copy the correct model for their best swing,” says Leadbetter, who has extensive experience in golfing and golf instruction.
After all, he was voted “No. 1 golf instructor in America” in 2000 by his peers for Golf Digest magazine and already has produced five best-selling golf books, eight instructional videos and instructed players in the PGA, LPGA and the Senior PGA.
What makes the ShadowChaser product unique, according to Greg Dietrich, the company’s executive vice president, is because it allows the golfer to move the “perfect” shadow model anywhere on the screen.
The shadow model then adjusts to fit the height of the golfer, and the golfer is able to watch the model taking its swing frame by frame.
“Golfers are able to follow the model and feel the swing,” says Dietrich. “There are also other benefits such as the instant feedback the golfer gets from the model and how user-friendly the software is for people.”
Dietrich is quick to point out that there is no perfect swing, but golfers can find an ideal fundamental swing with this software.
But make no mistake, Dietrich says: The software does not elminate the need for a golf instructor. Instead, he says, it enables the instructor to spend more time on golf strategies.
“Instructors can spend up to a half-hour trying to put students in the proper position,” says Dietrich. “Now instructors can use this software as a teaching tool, and students can practice at home without the instructor.”
The company currently is working on adjusting the software to fit special needs and specfic body types. Dietrich says they are trying to find a swing model for people with bad knees or arthritis. He also says they are working with professionals in other sports fields in developing software for their specialties.
While it will still be awhile before the software is available at retail outlets, customers can buy the program online and either download it off the site or pay for it and have it delivered. Or if you just want a chance to try out the program, there is a free trial tutorial online at www.shadowchaser3d.com that allows users to play with the shadow model and get some tips for their swing.
“We think this software will help all kinds of people, from professionals to first-timers,” says Dietrich.