In last week's column on golf practice facilities, I mentioned Fred Shriner's Brandywine Valley Golf Improvement Center and Fred's ability to analyze your swing, provide golf instruction, and fit your clubs to your unique swing. This week, I want to scratch the surface of this complex analysis and instructions process - as practiced by Fred Shriner - and share with you my observations of a very short but meaningful swing analysis and instruction session.Shriner states his belief simply: "The lack of golf equipment knowledge results in millions of golfers attempting to play an already difficult game with clubs that not only don't, but cannot possibly meet their needs." Shriner combines proven instruction methods with new video and high-speed camera technology to overcome golfers' lack of knowledge and put the best fitting equipment in their hands.

Shriner's instruction and fitting program is obviously tailored to a golfer's experience and skill level, and he might spend more or less time in a given segment of instruction, depending on the golfer. The first phase involves the basics: the grip, alignment, ball position, posture, and various physical fundamentals about how golf clubs impact the ball and how the ball travels through the air.

Once Shriner believes a student has a good grasp, both physically and mentally, of the basics and can hit golf balls with some consistency, phase II begins. In this phase, Shriner has two goals. First, he wants to ensure that a player's equipment most accurately complements his unique biomechanics. This is called club fitting, and it's crucial to successfully meeting his second goal of helping - through coaching and instruction - a player achieve the best golf swing he or she is capable of making. And this is where the new technology comes into play.

With club fitting, Shriner can either make from scratch a customized set of clubs for a player, or he can make a player's clubs fit him better.

In either case, Shriner collects actual ball-striking data from a player by using pressure sensitive tape on the clubface sole so he has a record of where the club meets the ball and the turf. He also uses a ball launch monitor to obtain club head speed, swing duration (tempo), ball launch angle, ball spin rate, and ball carry distance. He uses swing analyzer software to get club head path and impact angle. Perhaps the most important part of the fitting process is the ability of the player to hit different club head and shaft combinations with the use Shriner's interchangeable club-head-shaft system.

Although the fitting process could take an afternoon, once it's complete Shriner has the necessary data to select the best club head, shaft, grip, and swing weight to make a customized set of clubs that takes into account an individual player's skill, swing mechanics, and unique biomechanics.

But what if you already have a set of expensive golf clubs and don't need or want to invest in a new customized set? No problem. Shriner can still help with two things: with his certified Mitchell Golf Partner repair shop he can physically optimize (alter through slight bending) your clubs to your swing and body. And because he is a Certified Golf Teaching Professional, he can use the launch monitor equipment and his teaching credentials to work with you on improving the efficiency and ball striking quality of your swing.

While I was at Shriner's golf center (at the Tee Time at Ten Driving Range, on Rt. 10 across from Wyncote Golf Club, near Rt. 1 in Oxford), he spent about 30 minutes working with Pete Torras, a local golfer from the Kennett Square Golf and Country Club. After Torras hit 10 balls, Shriner had enough data. He said, "Based on what we have here, I am sure I can get you at least 10 more yards I'm just not sure you will want to make the necessary changes to your swing." Torras said, "Go ahead, Fred, hit me with your best shot."

Shriner said, "Pete, for starters your launch angle is too low, your clubhead is in a toe-up position at impact. This should cause you to hit the ball to the right, but your over-the-top swing motion often creates a compensating pulled shot. And your grip is too strong." Shriner added, "Your club-head speed of 80 miles an hour is great and it should get you 150 yards with that 7-iron, but your best shot flew only 136 yards. Some of this loss is because your power transfer ratio (a measure of how square the club face is at impact) is around 128 and should be nearer to 150."

After a few minutes of further coaching, Torras began hitting his 7-iron over 150 yards and believed Shriner had accurately analyzed his problem.

Shriner's rates seem reasonable, given all that he can offer. A 1-hour session with the V1 Pro Video Swing Analysis software is $100, and 3-and 5-hour packages are available, as are group lessons. You can contact Fred Shriner at 484-356-3569 or fshriner@golfforme.com.

o Rick Marts is a golf enthusiast who lives in East Marlborough Township.

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