Radar at PING HQ: Episode 1 – Born in the Proving Grounds
Aloha! No, it’s not ‘A Round with Radar’ but it is a walk around with Radar. I’ve come to Phoenix, Arizona. Why? Because I’m at the PING factory. I’m where it’s all done. Where all your golf clubs are made. It’s just the most incredible place. You’re going to see some really special things and I’m going to show them to you. It’s like me going into a sweetie shop. I hope you have great fun because one thing’s for certain. I’m gonna have a blast… John used to be on the European Tour, so many years ago and now he’s done well. He’s one of the bosses here.
Back in the day. Now over here, John Souza is going to put in a code. Now I’m not allowed to look. I am not allowed to look because it is top secret in here. New innovations that PING introduce to the game. Even staff. A lot of staff can’t go in here, so it’s top secret. I wasn’t allowed to look at that but thank you John you’ve got me in here, and you come into the engine room. It’s like a laboratory. It really is. It’s like, people in here are doing things with equipment that makes PING stand out by itself. It’s just proper golf equipment. They go home and they’re not allowed to tell their wives anything are you? You’re not allowed to say anything to your wife, at all about what’s happening here in the laboratory. But over here. We have a look here, and this is A new set of clubs here that Brandon Stone, South African, whose done ‘A Round with Radar’, on the European Tour. These clubs are made here. Okay they’ve got a factory over at Gainsborough but most of the stuff, they can do stuff with the truck on the European Tour, but these clubs are made right here. He’ll have them within a week. I mean I used to order a sand iron or a driver or a putter and it’s bang, it’s done. It’s not super fast because obviously being a laboratory they take their time and they make it properly and these clubs right here are for Brandon Stone. I wonder, Brandon, if this baby’s going to work for you. I imagine it will. You almost shot 59, didn’t you? Up there at Gullane, Scottish Open champion. Let’s go to the loft and lie machine. Now they were unbelievably good, PING. Well, they are unbelievably good at this. I was always red which was flat because I’ve got seriously long arms and that’s what PING pride themselves on. If you’ve got long arms you’re going to have clubs clubs that sit flatter. If you have short arms they’re going to be more upright. Kurt?
Yes? What are you doing here? You’ve got black which is standard
Yes. and the reds and the orange is flat. So this set right here is red colour code. It’s 1 degree flat. On the loft it’s also power spec’d so we’re making the lofts a little bit stronger for this person.
Right, okay. So this is just an ordinary man who’s ordered himself… Yeah, this is a junior sponsored person that is getting this set of clubs here. Yeah! PING has sponsored this person as a junior, so… As a junior? So junior programme? That’s very very good, so. You make these clubs good. You sort this out because this kid could be another Bubba Watson, you know that?
That’s right! Two Masters jackets, and I don’t want it on you Kurt! That’s right!
Okay. They’ve got to start young and, you know… Over here in a special corner we are looking at a privileged few. It doesn’t make any difference. The clubs are the same so whatever you buy, you amateurs, you’re going to get the same stuff but they might want something really different. Some red little men there and, just something different. A lot of players when I’m out doing my job, on-course commentary, you’ll see a lot of players have their kids on their clubs, on their putters. And it’s a great idea, if you’ve had a bad hole or whatever, you look there and you grab a club and golf’s not the be all and end all of anything, and you look down and you see your kids it’s going to make you smile. So this is where we put the grips on, so why the laser down there, down the grip. The laser ensures that we have the grip on straight, okay.
Yeah. So in terms of Bubba Watson’s club here you can see how open that is and it’s just his personal way of wanting the grips on there to help him move the ball the way he likes to move it.
That’s right. He wants the grip on straight but the club face will be open, so basically he goes in there and when he sets up the club face is open. And all his clubs are like that, so not just the wedges but all through his irons and woods are the same.
They are very thick. Very thick.
So I used to have one paper. Just one paper because I haven’t got big hands. Small fingers, really, and I used to have one, so I liked thin grips.
Right. They’re like a cricket bat handle. Yeah, I mean it’s just a matter of how he likes to hold the club and what it feels like and how he likes to move the ball. How many papers are incorporated into this one? He doesn’t want tapered grips so he wants it more parallel.
So in his left hand, behind left-handed. He’s left-handed so down here on the bottom we have 14 wraps. Wow.
And twelve here. So he likes it thin at the top?
That’s what makes Bubba so different. Yeah, bend it like Bubba! Well I’m in here in the net area, it’s called ENSO and I’m with a fellow Australian, Jonathan Shepherd a long way from home. The Southern Highlands. Right, show people Jonathan, what this is. This is a PING driver with all sorts of gadgets on top. Yes, so we’ve got the G410 markered up. So this is our motion capture system, ENSO, so 720 times a second we can capture where this club is in space and time. Digitally record the athlete’s movements and understand how they’re loading the club to make use of their biomechanics to ensure that they’re hitting it the furthest and playing their best. So you can tell their muscles, their speed, the whole lot with this connected to this up here. Yeah exactly. So it uses these infrared cameras on the wall here to project light to bounce of these reflective sensors to give us a really good picture of where they are in 3D time and space. So here’s an example, Jonathan. You’ve got Cameron Champ up there on the screen. Yeah so we have Cameron swinging at 131 miles an hour of clubbed speed so to generate this speed we can see his max handle speed is 29 miles an hour, and then when he’s at impact, so he’s breaking to 19.5 miles an hour, so there’s a massive delta here when the club’s transitioning and that energy’s being loaded on the shaft, here, all the way through to release. And that’s the secret for how Cameron can swing so fast because he’s just so efficient at generating force throughout the swing. He’s the longest, it’s amazing. And he uses PING.
And he uses PING. Do you think ENSO’s ready for the Radar power? I don’t know if it can capture how fast you are, but we’ll give it a go. What would be good for a man of my age? Would 120? I’d love to see 120 from you Radar… I’ve nailed it with a little bit of fade, Jonathan. That’s about as hard as I can hit it. I was out of my boots. Slightly high. Half an inch high. A little towards the heel but a pretty centrere strike. We can really see your ENSO here. That signature trace that you’re drawing. We’ve got 101.6 miles an hour as the clubhead speed.
So Cameron Champ is 30 miles an hour faster? Just a little bitof work to do, Radar.
That is… That’s serious speed. He has serious power and serious speed.
Yeah.a He’s a great athlete.
Yes, absolutely he is. But I’m quite happy with that swing. I only had a couple of goes, and… But right down the middle of the fairway. Very playable.
Ah yes, straight. Yes. The 180 straight.
Perfect! Well Jonathan, thanks very much.
Yes, thank you. And you must say, you’ve done well. It’s a pretty cool place to work right here in this room. Well if you couldn’t be happy here, you wouldn’t be happy anywhere.
You wouldn’t be happy! Do you clip a few away each day? I try to, I try to. Try to improve my swing and maybe one day I’ll be beating Cameron Champ. The swing guru! This right here is the indoor, outdoor hitting area. Okay, the balls are all here. You’ve got the little PINGman there. You can hit, as we do at the driving range, off this synthetic mat if you like. Or if you’re really special they will bring you in some turf to hit off. Voila! They will even bring in real grass. This is the real McCoy. This is beautiful Bermuda grass. It’s lush and it’s been brought inside. They bring it in on the forklift and place it in this square. So when you’re testing if you want to hit off the real stuff this is what you get, and that’s the treatment I get here in Arizona off PING. Stand here and flush a few, but it’s so good I really wouldn’t want to take a divot out of it! Well, I haven’t got a bad setup PINGman! The famous PINGman. This is a machine that tests all sorts of clubs. From a 50 yard wedge shot, 30 yard wedge shot, PINGman can play all the shots. Just a machine. Just an arm. And here’s its operator, Doug. Thanks very much. Welcome to our show. Tell us all about it. Well what we have here is the fifth generation of PINGman. The first one was built in the mid-seventies There are a couple of things that make him different than most of the other golfing robots, and they were all designed with the goal of better representing the way that a person actually swings a club. So one of the big features is the fact that we have a free wrist through impact. So the only thing that’s going to bring the club through is the rotation of the arm and the centrifugal forces acting on the club. So that way you’re letting the club rotate naturally. You’re not trying to force it into an unnatural position. Yeah, it’s unbelievable. Let’s give the viewer at home a look! Okay! This is a G410 driver setup to swing 105 miles an hour. 105 miles an hour, five mile an hour faster than I am. This is cool. And then the tee actually picks up the ball for us and moves it into the hitting position.
Yeah it does! The whole thing is just incredible. Up on a nice tee. And here we go! That is just flushed, dead straight. So you can control that, Doug, you were telling me before we went on, you’ve seen one go over the fence? You’ve set it to a speed where it turns into a gorilla… Yes we can swing it much faster than we would ever really actually test clubs at, and we have hit it over the fence on the end of our range which is probably about a 370 yard carry. Swinging at 155 miles an hour. Well that’s just, unreal. Let’s see if that first one with PINGman was a fluke. That was flushed straight as an arrow. Down the conveyor belt the ball comes. Little gadget stops it. Tee comes up through there, look at that. My job would be easy as an on-course commentator if I could watch this thing hit golf balls all day! No wind, at all. Alright, here we go! Flush. Dead same. Dead same spot. Do you want to know something Doug? Don’t tell anyone but I think I’m in love!