AROUND THE GREENS: Test-driving one of Tiger Woods’ practice gadgets

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Practicing like a pro is, of course, only part of the equation.

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A guy with a golf swing like mine is never going to own a Green Jacket. I’m not good enough to even consider wearing red to a Sunday tee-time.

But here I am at the range, test-driving one of Tiger Woods’ preferred training tools — the Full Swing KIT launch monitor.

“Tiger, he has legendary standards obviously,” beamed Ryan O’Keefe, the senior director of marketing for Full Swing. “So when he gives it the seal of approval, that’s as good as it gets. Him putting it down at The Masters … If somebody says, ‘Well, how do I know it’s accurate?’ There’s your sign.”

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The PGA Tour Champions pros just rolled through Calgary for another edition of the Shaw Charity Classic. If you’re anything like me, a side-effect of watching some of the best in the birdie-making biz — especially up-close — is an immediate itch to work on your own game.

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The Full Swing KIT launch monitor provides instant feedback, and not the ‘Good shot, honey!’ that you hear from your better half as another tee-ball sails into the scenery.

The setup is simple — just ensure the unit is 10 feet behind you, open the app on your iPhone, select your club and give ‘er heck.

For each shot, it provides a stack of data — carry and total yardage, ball and club speed, spin rate, attack angle, launch angle, face angle, smash factor, etc., etc. Along with all those numbers, it will log a video of your swing. You know… just in case they forgot to show it among the highlights on the Golf Channel.

My mission, with an opportunity to try out one of Tiger’s toys, is to figure out how far my ball actually flies with each of my wedges and short-irons. Sounds simple enough, but as O’Keefe puts it: “Knowing that, that means you’re hitting greens instead of always having short chips.” Yeah, that would be nice.

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Tiger has a Full Swing simulator at home, plus one of the portable outdoor models, and he isn’t the only superstar who endorses this technology. The website lists Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Canada’s beloved Brooke Henderson, among others. The launch monitor comes with a price tag of US$3,999, but orders are coming from folks with zero career tournament winnings.

“The everyday golfers are just like, ‘Man, this is so much simpler than I thought it would be,’ ” O’Keefe said.

And what does Tiger love about this particular gadget? “I know that Full Swing is measuring my golf ball, not guessing at it.”

The bad news is you can’t question the technology after a bad shot. The numbers won’t lie.

This launch monitor is so accurate that you’ll lose some of your usual distance if you’re hitting worn-out range balls. It’s so accurate that when I cold-topped a nine-iron, it followed that brutal bouncer for every inch of its 57-yard journey. Thank goodness for the trash-bin icon, which deleted that duff from my history.

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“A big thing we hear is that it’s forcing people to practice with more of a purpose instead of, ‘Alright, I have 100 balls — that means 10 wedges, 10 eight-irons, 10 six-irons, 40 drivers …’ ” O Keefe said. “They’re looking at their session and saying, ‘I only hit my driver 14 times each round, so why am I hitting an entire range bucket with my driver?’ It’s making them think, ‘OK, I know I’m going to play this course with a 135-yard Par-3 that drives me nuts. I’m going to dial in that shot.’ ”

The reality for us amateurs is that our game is never totally dialed in. The dispersion chart on the app will remind you of that.

But I’ve just hit my best drive of this range session — both by feel and by the numbers being relayed from the Full Swing Kit launch monitor — and I take a brief break to admire a replay of my swing.

There’s an option to share the video. I could even text it to Tiger, if I had his number.

He’s probably busy practicing anyway.

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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