Golf: New TOURAcademy, TaylorMade Performance Lab open at Tiburon Golf Club

2003 Masters champion Mike Weir showcases the sensors attached to his body at the TaylorMade Performance Lab at Tiburon on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Weir also used a special club with a sensor on the shaft and clubhead. The sensors then created data when he swung the club.  Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo

2003 Masters champion Mike Weir showcases the sensors attached to his body at the TaylorMade Performance Lab at Tiburon on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Weir also used a special club with a sensor on the shaft and clubhead. The sensors then created data when he swung the club. Courtesy photo.

Mike Weir at TaylorMade Performance Lab

The TaylorMade Performance Lab at Tiburon's MATT system measures anything and everything about a golfer's swing.  Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo

The TaylorMade Performance Lab at Tiburon's MATT system measures anything and everything about a golfer's swing. Courtesy photo.

TOURAcademy

Where: Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort

Info: Instructors offer two- to five-day schools, corporate group clinics, new golfer and specialty programs, junior camps. DVD-based Home Edition $199.

Contact: 593-1111

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TaylorMade Performance Lab

Where: Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort

Info: State-of-the-art club-fitting system. Two-and-a-half-hour session includes club and golf ball recommendations, take-home CD with all captured swings, analysis and recommendations. Cost, for nonmembers, $300 for full fitting, $150 for woods or irons, $125 for putter. Members receive $50 savings.

Contact: 593-1111

Ever since it opened back in 1998, Tiburon Golf Club had a Rick Smith Golf Academy, featuring one of the top instructors in the country.

Now, though, the facility has quite the combination of instruction and club fitting. The new TOURAcademy and a TaylorMade Performance Lab now call Tiburon home. Both celebrated openings earlier this month during the Franklin Templeton Shootout.

"It's a perfect fit," said Travis Fulton, director of instruction of the TOURAcademy, which is part of PGA TOUR Experiences that operates golf academies, leisure group outings and more.

"It's a phenomenal facility," said Tom Fisher, the manager of TaylorMade Performance Labs. "The TOURAcademy with the TaylorMade Performance Labs, the Ritz-Carlton, two phenomenal golf courses ... we're really excited to be here."

This is the third Florida location for the TOURAcademy, whose others are at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, and the World Golf Village in St. Augustine. There also is a TaylorMade Performance Lab at TPC Sawgrass, so Tiburon is just the second to have both in the entire country. This is the 12th TaylorMade Performance Lab in the U.S.

"Our golfers know that this is a major addition to the Tiburon experience," Tiburon general manager Rick Rainvlle said.

Fisher went through the Performance Lab with 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, who looked like he was being readied to have his motions replicated in a video game. He donned a vest with sensors, as well as ones that wrapped around his knees and feet, during an hourlong session in a small room with a vault-like door. Sensors also are on the shaft and club head.

Weir was trying to verify details in his swing that he was feeling out on the range. The TMPL session did that.

"That was the big thing for me," he said.

That was the case as well for his swing coach, former tour player Grant Waite.

"I'm a big believer in measuring rather than guessing," said Waite, who has been working with Weir for five months. "If we can say that the difference of two or three degrees in a clubface alignment or path alignment can be the difference of a tour player, for example, being a consistent winner or not being on the tour, then a tool like this can help us get more precise. It's not going to tell you how to swing, but it's going to measure actually how you are swinging.

"There's not a profession in the world if you were more informed about doing that you wouldn't be better. ... Any tool that provides that information, I believe in."

Weir had an inkling based on how he was swinging on the range what was going on, and he was happy the data backed that up. Weir's numbers — he also had data from 2005 and 2009 in the system — were all within small differences of one another.

"Mike's a great player so he feels it," Fisher said. "Unfortunately, the amateurs, the general public don't have quite that feel, that awareness, so he just validated what Mike was feeling."

The MAT-T (Motion-Analysis Technology by TaylorMade) system includes a launch monitor, six high-speed video cameras and a computer to capture the golfer's swing in 3-D animation. Fisher said all of this still is useful for amateurs, even higher-handicap ones who may not believe their swings are that consistent.

"The two differences mainly are where they hit the ball on the face, which will affect then how the club actually twists through impact, and how they return that clubface back to the ball as well," Fisher said. "Through technology, we found out that the ball reacts four times greater to the clubface than anything else."

Meanwhile, the TOURAcademy has programs that include two- to five-day golf schools, corporate group clinics, new golfer and specialty programs, and junior camps. Fulton said the corporate aspect has really grown.

"We're bringing companies not only to our locations, but we're traveling around with them," he said.

And they're doing more than that. The TOURAcademy has unveiled a home edition that includes 10 DVDs, an instruction booklet, a practice guide, alignment sticks, and contact mat as part of an eight-week training program for $199. The series took two years of development, and also includes two different "tracks" for golfers to follow, based on their preference or ability.

"This is the P90X for golf," said Fulton, comparing it to the popular, 90-day fitness regimen. "It's the only training program for golf. There's a lot of content out there, but this is very unique because we tell them exactly what we want them to do."

Many of the instructors from the former Smith Academy have stayed on. That includes head instructor Trevor Gliwski, Tom O'Brien, Kathy Padgett, and T.J. Shelton.

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