The 2016/2017 school year has been a good one for athletics at K, with the completion of the new Fitness and Wellness Center, tennis courts, and most recently, a golf lab. The new lab consists of a large, high-quality putting green that almost entirely covers the floor of the old dance studio in Anderson Athletic Center.
The green serves as a full chipping and putting complex, with fringe and rough around the edges. It also includes a virtual golf machine known as a TrackMan. The simulator will be set up in a hitting bay with a screen, allowing a golfer to hit into the screen and be provided with both an accurate ball flight and detailed game data. This is the same sort of data that PGA golfers rely on to improve their games—it includes information that includes attack angle, spin rate, and launch angle.
The golf team will be taking advantage of the lab over the winter months, which will help them to start future spring seasons in mid-season form. Men’s coach Mitch Wilson has already seen an improvement in his team’s play after only two weeks of an operational lab. “The lab will give players opportunities to practice on a year round basis.” Wilson said. “More practice means more repetitions, and more repetitions means more confidence and lower scoring on the course. That’s what it’s all about.”
While the numbers that the TrackMan provides will be invaluable to the Kalamazoo College golf team, the new equipment will also be open for use by faculty, staff, and the student body at large. “Golf is typically seen as a sport that is not very approachable—it has high start costs, green fees, and is time consuming,” Matt Holmes-Hackerd ’20 said. “The simulator can help make golf an approachable pastime for members of the K community.”
The simulator can help make golf an approachable pastime for members of the K community.
The lab is not yet entirely complete, with the installation of the hitting bay and TrackMan scheduled within the next few weeks. The lab was made possible through generous contributions to the golf program from an anonymous donor.
This lab shows the commitment to what we’re trying to get done as a program.
“In Michigan, where you can’t play six months out of the year, virtual golf is a real luxury. The TrackMan technology really creates realistic situations,” Wilson said. “This lab shows the commitment to what we’re trying to get done as a program.”