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The Challengers The Track Men

  • A gray-haired man wearing a knapsack walks along a tree-lined path.

    Man [off-screen]: One two-thousandths of a second. That's all the time it takes for the club to hit the ball and the ball to leave the club face again.

    Onscreen text: Charles Schwab Presents

    The gray-haired man, Klaus Eldrup-Jørgensen, talks in an office with large windows behind him.

    Klaus [onscreen]: My name is Klaus Eldrup-Jørgensen, and I founded TrackMan.

    A square orange device with the name TrackMan on it sits on green artificial grass.

    Onscreen text: The Challengers

    A series about people who question. Engage. Succeed.

    Dramatic drum music.

    A hand places a golf ball and tee in the ground. Klaus lines up a shot at a golf driving range and hits the ball.

    Onscreen text: The Track Men

    Mellow music.

    A white flag that reads "Rungsted Golf Klub" in black lettering flutters against a blue sky.

    Klaus talks in an office.

    Klaus [onscreen]: I'm definitely a golf lover. I was not a great player, but I was a good player. I love to practice.

    Klaus [off-screen]: When we started, the question we asked ourselves was, "Can we make it more fun, more efficient to practice, using technology?"

    Onscreen text: Can we make it more fun, more efficient to practice using technology?

    Klaus [onscreen]: In the beginning of 2003, there's a lot of technology around, but nothing has happened to golf for decades. So you still buy a bucket of balls and you hit it. And, at least at that point in time, you didn't get any feedback.

    Klaus hits a ball on a driving range and watches it. Then, with a TrackMan device next to him, Klaus looks at his mobile phone.

    Klaus [onscreen]: I'm not a technician or a radar engineer or anything like that myself.

    A man walks into a dark office space, the lights come on; all the desks are empty.

    Klaus [off-screen]: So I was very, very lucky and ran into a very, very good guy who's been spending his whole life and career working in the military using Doppler radar.

    A young man with short dark hair, Fredrik Tuxen, talks in an office.

    Fredrik Tuxen [onscreen]: My name is Fredrik Tuxen, and I'm the inventor of the TrackMan technology.

    Fredrik writes on a white board on which there are equations and diagrams.

    Fredrik [off-screen]: The first time I met Klaus, I was head of R and D, making radars for military applications. So tracking missiles, bullets, rockets, and that stuff.

    They had this fantastic business idea: If you could track a golf ball, how you would make a business out of that.

    Fredrik works on a computer in an office.

    Klaus [off-screen]: In the beginning we thought of this as a practice tool. But it quickly turned out that we had a lot of interesting data that actually was very valuable to the equipment manufacturers. After the equipment manufacturers it became club fitting. And eventually it became teaching. In the beginning we just measured the ball. How far was the ball traveling, and the height of the ball; spin of the ball?

    In the old days, people thought that they could just look at the golf ball and tell what the club was doing at impact, but you can't do that. There's several combinations of golf ball and club impact that'll give you the same ball flight. So if you don't know exactly what goes on at impact, you don't really know what to correct.

    A pair of hands, one hand gloved, grips the handle of a golf club. A young golfer hits a ball in an indoor practice room with a screen on the wall showing the ball's trajectory. Another man sits at a computer and looks at data that analyzes the golfer's swing.

    Fredrik [off-screen]: What happens when a club meets a ball? And why is it that for some people it is absolutely optimal to have a 3,300 RPM spin rate, where for others it's only a 2,000 RPM spin rate? And that actually was a foundation to a lot of the insights and thought leadership that we created at TrackMan. And what is it that you want to do if you want to maximize your own potential?

    Onscreen text: We developed new terminology

    Fredrik [off-screen]: We had to develop new terminology, like "attack angle": How much are you hitting up on the ball? How much are you hitting down on the ball? If you are making contact with the ball after the low point, you have a positive attack angle. Your club path will always be more to the left, for a right-hand player, than your swing direction.

    The computer screen shows the trajectory of the ball.

    Fredrik [onscreen]: When I talked to instructors back in the early days, this was mind-blowing for them. They had not had this geometric picture in their minds before. And this completely changed the way they were thinking about how to swing the club, where to make contact with the club, and how to achieve desirable numbers.

    When TrackMan brought out this: You need to hit up on your driver to maximize your distance, this was very controversial.

    Upbeat synthesized music begins.

    As Fredrik speaks, various workers solder parts, use a wrench to assemble a device, screw components together, examine data on a computer screen.

    Fredrik [off-screen]: TrackMan is a hardware company where everything is designed in-house. There's not a component you find in any of our devices that we have not designed ourselves. We design our own microwave components. We are building all the electronics. There is not a piece of code that is running, either on the devices or in the applications, that has not been built in-house.

    Onscreen text: Everything is designed in house

    Fredrik [off-screen]: We are definitely also a data company. We started out using Doppler radar technology. I cannot see that in future we will not always have a piece of that. But in the very first TrackMan, we also had a camera in there for ease of use, so we can align the TrackMan. Four or five years ago, we took a completely new step. We're using the cameras as a tracking device. So now we are tracking both in radar as well as in camera data, computer vision. Will there be new technologies we'll be adding to this in the future and that we're exploring? Yes, big time.

    The head of a golf club is lined up behind a golf ball on a tee. Behind it is the orange TrackMan device.

    Klaus: The orange box is a good story. In the beginning we didn't have a lot of money. But we decided we wanted to use a little bit of money on product design. So we actually had the pleasure of meeting one of the key designers for the Danish hi-fi company called Bang & Olufsen. And he helped us shape the box and so on. But then he said, "You're going to make that box orange. If you make it orange, you're gonna own the orange color on the golf course." And that was fantastic advice. One of the best we ever had.

    A man walks next to hedges, carrying a case labeled TrackMan.

    Fredrik [off-screen]: One of the things that makes me super, super proud: If I or anybody else goes to a PGA tour event, European tour event, the full range is covered by orange boxes, TrackMans. And these are TrackMans that tour pros have purchased on their own.

    An orange TrackMan device sits on the ground in front of a circular design made up of the names of professional golfers. Then, a golfer lines up a shot in front of the design.

    Onscreen text: 90 of the top 100 golfers in the world have purchased their own TrackMan

    The golfer swings the club.

    Upbeat synthesized music.

    Fredrik: We have never, ever, and will never give any TrackMans away for free.

    A woman pulls a large cart full of boxed TrackMans through an office space.

    Fredrik [off-screen]: This is state-of-the-art technology designed to provide the highest-level accuracy that tour players and equipment manufacturers so need.

    Fredrik walks through the office space.

    Onscreen text: Ask questions. Be engaged.

    Onscreen text: [Charles Schwab logo] Own your tomorrow

    Fredrik [off-screen]: If it's not against the laws of physics, it can be done.

    Onscreen text: [Charles Schwab logo] [PGA Tour logo]

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    Onscreen text: Thanks to TrackMan Cofounder Morten Eldrup-Jørgensen

    Rungsted Golf Klub

Can we make it more efficient to practice, using technology?

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