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Bridgestone Invitational Golf Tournament

Physiology of golf swing is serious business

By jim Published: August 3, 2010

By Jonas Fortune
Beacon Journal sports writer

It was an odd sight Monday at Firestone Country Club's South Course.

Plenty of golfers were arriving, preparing and practicing for this weekend's Bridgestone Invitational.

But the group at the end of the practice range was taking it to the extreme.

Gray wires lined the back of a test subject like an artificial spine.

Sensors reached out to hands and legs, ruffling pant legs and forcing the man to wear gloves on both hands. Black straps across his shoulders, chest and head held all the wires together. A wire snaked out to the shaft of the club, too.

No, it wasn't EA Sports capturing motion for next year's version of the popular Tiger Woods video game, but it wasn't far off.

This was motion capturing for science, for a healthy golf swing.

''Do you know how many degrees your golf swing is off each time?'' asked Marc Wahl, a sports physiotherapist with Pro-Golf Health.

''I do,'' Wahl said before showing the three-dimensional swing rendering he recorded on his test subject a few minutes earlier.

Each rendering is connected to graphs showcasing the motion of the arms, legs, pelvis, shoulders, head and club throughout the swing. The data showcase when a shoulder, hip or arm is just off slightly, something the eye itself would probably never notice.

''The money is the graphs,'' he said. ''That's the best stuff.''

The technology allows for small tinkering and documentation for when a swing is going well — or badly — for a stable of clients that includes Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Ross Fisher.

It is primarily used at World Golf Championships Events, and has been for three years now. It is easier to reach all 11 of the company's mostly European clients, he said.

''That's a bit extreme for me,'' Ben Curtis said of all the wires dangling all over the golfer.

Curtis, a Kent State graduate, was being monitored by computer equipment, too, as he tried out his new Titlest 910 D2 prototype driver. Curtis said he has used the club the past few months, but Monday he was monitoring the spin, loft, line and face angle of the club. The driver, which features detachable heads, is not available commercially yet.

Another in field

Jeff Overton was barely edged by Stuart Appleby — and his 11-under-par 59 — in the Greenbrier Classic Sunday at the Old White Course in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

But Overton still got a nice consolation prize. The high finish propelled him into the top 50 of the official world golf rankings, securing a last-second spot in the Bridgestone Invitational field. Overton is ranked No. 47.

Tiger Woods, defending champion and seven-time winner, has been ranked No. 1 for 270 consecutive weeks and 612 weeks overall through his career.

Ticket clarification

The price of Bridgestone tickets was incorrect recently in the Beacon Journal. Tickets are $40 at the gate for the Thursday- through-Sunday competition. Fans can save $10 when they buy tickets in advance.

The $95 four-day tickets are no longer available.

Today's and Wednesday's practice rounds are $15 in advance and $25 at the gate.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at http://worldgolfchampionships.com, by calling 330-644-2299 or at the gate. Children 18 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult. Active and retired military and their dependents are admitted free.


Jonas Fortune can be reached at jfortune@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Varsity Letters high school sports blog at http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/varsity_letters/. Also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ABJVarsity.
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