Sunday, August 25, 2013

Swingbyte: Putting Bite into Your Swing

Small, neat packaging
(pens not included!)
There are two things you need to know about Swingbyte 2.0: it is an excellent piece of kit and it’s excellent value for money… which leaves one simple question: is it for you?

It’s not hard to see why this was voted ‘One of the 12 coolest items at the PGA Show’ by Golf Digest. Swingbyte 2.0 is a Mobile Golf Swing Analyzer (that’s what it says on the box) which shows you, on screen, the path, angle, shape and speed of your swing.

So what is it? you ask.
It’s a piece of technology little bigger than a cigarette lighter. Swingbyte slips over the shaft of your club (from putter to driver), just below the grip, and then records 17 factors about your swing, from the speed, tempo and angle of the clubface to the attack angle and shaft lean. It takes all of this information and, thanks to a handy App you have already downloaded, displays your swing on your mobile device (from an iPad to an Android to any number of other devices). You can play it back instantly and/or wait till later and review your performance then.

Two of my swings, viewed from behind, with various stats in the left hand column.
Pitching Wedge used for the top image; Driver for the lower one.
Take a look at the above graphic and you’ll get the general idea of what you’ll see. You can view your swing from behind, face-on and above. You can also compare your swings (two at a time), or compare them with a ‘Pro’ golfer’s swing (see image below).

My swing (left) with a 'Pro' swing next to it.
Have to confess, mine looks better.

Is it easy to use?
I’m a technophobe and I was able to figure it all out pretty quickly, so yes, it’s easy to use.

There’s some ‘exploring’ to do on the App to get to grips with what you have to do (enter your name, height, club data) and you may need to go to the Swingbyte site to resolve an issue not covered by the App’s FAQs, but this is straightforward… and for anyone who uses Apps on a regular basis it will be a doddle.

One issue I hope will be resolved is that the App I downloaded still has the 1st generation device ‘Pair Swingbyte’ instructions – i.e. connecting it to your iPad etc., so that may cause a little confusion.

In terms of fitting it to and positioning it on the club – it’s intuitive. Yes, it might be a bit fiddly because it has to stay so snug to the shaft and you have to position it accurately, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s easy.

Once you start swinging, you can decide for yourself how you want to look at the results on screen. There are multiple angles of your swing plane, there are reams of data (swing speed, etc.) to assess and you can look at one or both after every swing. You can look at and compare history (very useful after several sessions on the Range) and you can compare two swings at once. Finding which one you prefer will simply take a little bit of time. The swing is also available in 3D and you can video yourself, too.

What will it do for my game?
The Swingbyte likes to say that it will save shots off your game? The question is, will it? I’d have to be using this for a few months to give you a definitive answer on that, but what it definitely helps you with is consistency and confidence… and in golf those are two essential elements.

What you need to bear in mind?
There are a few caveats that you’ll need to consider in advance:
1.     How useful some of the data will be to you will depend on how in tune you are with your game/swing.

I’m fairly ignorant of many of the criteria listed on the stats. For my 6 iron, my ‘Average Path’ is +9 degrees (see image below). Is that good? I have no idea. My ‘Shaft Lean’ was 10 degrees for some shots, 17 degrees for others… which is better or are they both terrible? In other words, some of the stats are completely over my head. And, to be honest, I’m not that bothered about finding out because I benefitted in other ways.

My 'Path to Average Enlightenment' is +9 degrees... apparently

If you know all about these things, then chances are you will benefit even more.

2.     If you don’t know what you’re doing wrong, or why, then the Swingbyte is unlikely to help you.

There is a ‘Pro Tips’ section, which analyses your swing and makes observations, but Swingbyte doesn’t assess if you’re moving your legs too much or if your grip is wrong. This is all about your swing. I’m not presenting this as a negative, just as a word of warning. Where the Swingbyte comes into its own is once you’ve had, or are having, golf lessons.

I had lessons last year. I was bringing the club back inside the line leading to a big loop at the top of my swing to compensate… the Swingbyte is perfect for helping me to correct this. I have been to the Range twice this week and I can see a difference in the swing already. Perhaps, more importantly, it gives me the belief and confidence to do something that feels strange – I’ve been swinging the same way for 20 years plus, so having that confidence is essential.

3.     Accuracy. The data the Swingbyte delivers will be exceptionally good. I couldn’t dispute any of the physical data about swing speed etc., but the Swingbyte would occasionally tell me I’d hit a fade when it had been a draw. For me this isn’t an issue, but bear it in mind when you start looking back through your data.

You can show all your shots in a list format so you can assess speed, tempo etc.
of one shot after another. The green 'thumbs-up' indicate swings/shots
I was very happy with.

Are there any negatives?
That depends on what you're hoping the Swingbyte will help you to achieve, and what devices you're using the App on. On the iPad it was really easy to use, and obviously the bigger screen is of great benefit, but on my Samsung Galaxy 2 the App was more restricted and not as flexible. 

Swingbyte will not fix your errors simply through repetition - not unless you know what they are in the first place... and I don't mean reading about them in a magazine and then assuming they apply to you. 

I found the Swingbyte unit moved on the shaft so it will need to be realigned as you use it... I noticed this when the data reported that the angle of my clubface at address was closed 49 degrees. It's not surprising given the impact and speed the club goes through, but it's frustrating when you hit a peach and the data records a 49 degree anomaly. The closer you can get it to the grip, the better.

My only other suggestion is that it would be great if the FAQs, or another section on the APP, told you what the 17 criteria meant and whether there's an optimal range.

How much is it and where can I get it?
The cost is €149 and it is available exclusively in Ireland through

For a non-techy person, who wouldn’t normally see the benefits of a gizmo like this, I found the Swingbyte 2.0 a brilliant piece of kit. I doubt I was using much more that 30% of its capabilities and functionality, but I genuinely believe that it will build confidence in my swing.

For more info and to see the Swingbyte in situ, check out this YouTube video 

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