I decided to run myself through a TrackMan Combine test the other day.
A “What” Test?
TrackMan Combine. It’s a standardized test that involves hitting a series of shots to nine different targets set at 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140, 160 and 180 yards, plus an additional series with the driver. Players hit two sets of three shots to each of these targets, for a total of 60 shots in all. It’s a thorough examination of your ability to control shot distances, not to mention the fact that it really helps you bear down and focus, particularly beneficial when practicing indoors. Upon completion of the test, the results are uploaded to mytrackman.com, where players can log in to view indoor and/or outdoor leaderboads and compare their results to other combine participants worldwide.
Since the introduction of the Combine test a couple of years ago, thousands of golfers worldwide have taken a combine test. European Tour Pro Chris Paisley recently recorded the highest-ever combine score of 90.4 out of a possible 100 points. For male touring professionals, the average score is about 84. For an 18 handicapper, that number drops to 46.7. My score was 73.4, about average for a scratch player. I’ll spare you any lame excuses, but I will tell you that I’ll be taking every possible opportunity to improve my performance – because I know I can do better (plus the test is a little bit addictive). That’s one of the neat things I experienced during the test – I could feel those competitive juices flowing and it was much more intense than normal practice.
When your test is completed, the TrackMan software produces an 11-page summary. The first page includes the shot dispersion pattern as shown at left, followed by a shot-by-shot analysis for each target. There are distinct correlations between a player’s handicap and their combine scores, as shown on the chart below. My own results very closely matched the strengths and weaknesses that I exhibit when playing in “real life”. For sample purposes… here are My Complete Results (pdf)
Hcp Average Score
+5 – 0 74.4
1 – 4 69.6
5 – 9 63.4
10 – 12 57.9
13 – 16 54.2
17 – 20 49.7
Source: TrackMan January 2013 Newsletter
As I review my dispersion summary, I can see right off the top that my tower of circles has a definite tilt to the right. In fact, of the 60 shots I hit, 50 of them landed to the right of target. On the course, when I am off-target with my short iron approach shots, I most often miss to the right side. There will be some work on alignment and club face control in my future.
See that overlapping of the circles in my dispersion summary? It’s particularly evident in the 80 to 120 yard range, where there is a fair bit of inconsistency in terms of distance – which mirrors my on-course performances. My best scores came at 140 and 160 yards, and that’s the yardage where I feel the most confident on the course. Ideally, each circle of shots would be it’s own island, but realistically, some overlap is to be expected. All the same, it’s clear that I would benefit from some work on distance control and perhaps a review of my wedge lofts.
My worst results – by far – were with my driver. Overall, my test score was at the level of a scratch player, but with the driver, my results more closely matched those of a 20-handicapper. Driving has traditionally been one of the strengths of my game, but over the past couple of seasons, I have struggled off the tee. Coincidentally, I have practiced very little with my driver over the past couple of years. A simple equation reveals itself: less practice = less performance. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway you slice it, the Combine test is a pretty powerful training tool.
- Highlights the strengths in your game, giving you information you can use to make better shot selections on the course
- Identifies your weaknesses and helps you create an action plan to address them either through supplemental golf lessons or self-guided practice
- Because it gives the feeling of actual game play, TrackMan Combine is the kind of practice that translates to the course
- Takes indoor practice to a whole new level
I plan to practice hard on the weaknesses that the Combine Test identified in my game and repeat the Combine Test on a regular basis to chart my progress and keep my practice regimen on task.
About the Author
I’m Bill Dreger, a Member of the Professional Golfers Association of Canada and the owner/operator of nonstopGOLF. I’m a certified golf geek with more than 15 years experience in coaching, instruction and program development. I help new golfers and experienced players alike get their games in tune with golf lessons featuring the TrackMan Golf launch monitor system. My approach is relaxed and conversational, promoting intuitive learning through skill development and guided discovery. TrackMan training sessions are available year-round at Calgary’s Riverside Golf Centre and in-season at the Wintergreen G&CC, located in Bragg Creek.