TrackMan is proving a big hit for Culford School’s golfers – and former European Tour player Lawrence Dodd
Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds, is leading the way in golf technology being taught to its scholars.
An investment in TrackMan - a £20,000 piece of golfing technology you are more likely to find on the practice range at the Open, than in a school, has proved a big hit.
Scholars are benefitting from TrackMan’s superb attention to detail and accuracy, while the school’s golfing Head Coach, Lawrence Dodd, 34, a former European Tour player, is revelling in his job role and what it is able to bring to the pupils.
“TrackMan is an incredibly advanced piece of kit that the best players in the world are using,” Dodd said.
“So, pupils here at Culford are using the same equipment in practice that Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson are using to improve their game.
“It’s incredible for me as a coach to think that.
“TrackMan shows you so much you just can’t see with the naked eye. It allows pupils to learn better, they have grown up with technology, so probably understand it better than me to be honest.”
The TrackMan device at Culford is set up in a former squash court at the school, its big screen displaying a large fairway as a yellow curve shows the trajectory of the ball.
Young pupil Henry Meadows is banging balls for fun with his pitching wedge, trying to get exact distances with different striking forces. Figures along the bottom of the screen show how he is getting on.
I observe with interest, feeling my 18 handicap swing would benefit incredibly from such technology – or is it too late?
Indeed, could I justify £20k to spend on TrackMan for my ‘man cave’?
“I must admit teaching in a room like this one takes a bit of getting used to,” Dodd said.
“In fact it is mostly for the pupil’s benefit. But in saying that it is a wonderful environment to be teaching.”
And practice, of course, makes perfect.
With TrackMan, scholars can practice and practice, retain their enthusiasm and remain positive. There are no range balls to go and pick up afterwards, while being indoors means young people have no excuse to complain it’s ‘too cold’.
The technology has enabled Culford to attract more pupils to it’s golf programme.
“Yes, we are recruiting pupils because of the golf,” Dodd said.
“We have pupils already at school who either wanted to get started at the game because they see the activities, or they play a bit but now have access to more frequent lessons – growing the game at younger age group.
“Scholars on the programme will have roughly 10 hours a week, which is part of their time-table.
“It can take the place of various subjects. Some might not do music, but golf instead. Some will come out of games’ lessons to do more golf.
“It’s a flexible timetable to facilitate, in this case golf, or whatever sport or interest they have at the school.”
Born in Bury St Edmunds, Dodd is the ideal man to coach at a school and in a county, he knows well.
Having made the European Tour in 2008 after qualifying from Q-School (14 rounds of golf), he never managed to hit the heights to earn enough to keep his European Tour card.
After four years doing his PGA training at Bury Golf Range, he moved to Culford, where he is clearly enjoying life.
“We have seven scholars this year, 25 competitive golfers and about 40 who take part in some level of golf lessons,” he said.
“It’s not bad, seeing as just a few years ago when we started we had just three golfers.”
Dodd went to university in Tennessee, in the States, where large budgets mean golf is a big deal across The Pond.
He admits that while there it was a programme he enjoyed and would like to see mimicked at Culford.
“Maybe some pupils will progress to the States to continue their golf. If they do, this type of technology will be like water off a duck’s back to them,” he admits.
So, after asking all the questions, I decided it was time for me to take on the TrackMan challenge.
After a few words of encouragement from Lawrence I felt confident, looking forward to impressing a former European Tour player with my dynamic swing.
I can’t pretend it went well.
A couple of pitches ‘topped’ into the large screen didn’t impress the Head Coach, young Henry, or me. Even my photographer Gregg laughed!
And I can’t even blame the weather!`