FlightScope Takes Clubfitting to a Whole New Level
By Spencer Timkey
Golf is a unique sport. You may be playing in a foursome, but it’s your individual score that counts. You might be able to run a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, but that doesn’t mean you’re good within 40 yards of the green. It’s a mental game of inches … the 6 inches between your ears. One might think that a golf club is just a golf club; that, because a driver is $100 more than another, it means you’ll instantly become Jordan Spieth off the tee. This perception couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Enter Rick’s Golf World in Olean, NY. Helping golfers find the right clubs since 1990, it’s a full-service shop that should be a destination for any golfer serious about their swing. With name brands such as Taylor Made, Ping, Puma, Cobra, Callaway, Titleist and FootJoy, owner Pete Lisi has built the business into the reputable one it is today.
One of the coolest features offered by any shop in the area, the FlightScope system (on-site at Rick’s Golf World) uses radar to track the actual flight of the golf ball after your swing. Developed by South African electronics engineer Henri Johnson in 1989, FlightScope uses a Doppler radar system to record your ball movement, backspin, flight path, club head speed/angle and much more. The company originally (and currently still) develops defense radar systems for countries around the world.
Lisi bought the system in February 2013 and said it was an instant success. With ample space inside the shop for a “BIG” swing cage, the customer doesn’t feel like he or she is swinging the club in a closet. A 210” diagonal screen allows customers to watch where their ball goes after they hit it. This system tracks the ball and swing separately, which gives Lisi improved ability to work with his customers to find them the perfect club.
Here’s how it works: a customer can come in and try a bunch of different clubs (specifically, drivers). After the customer hits a couple balls off of different drivers, he’ll pull up a screen that shows the different clubs’ “angle of attack” and “carry distance” – so if someone is hitting a Callaway driver 10 yards further and straighter than a Taylor Made one, then they’ve found the winner. Fitting is $50, but Lisi will knock that off the retail price if the customer so chooses to purchase it.
The FlightScope system is also good for ‘club gapping’. Lisi explains it this way: “Let’s say you hit your 3-wood 240 yards and your 4-iron 190. We need to find you a club that you can hit at that consistent 200-210 yard range. The customer can try out some hybrids or different clubs to find that sweet spot.”
There are different camera-based systems that take individual photographs of the ball’s flight path, but FlightScope is only one of two that actually implements a radar system to track it.
Rick’s Golf World is a full-service shop that offers regripping, fitting and anything else a golfer could ask for. If you want to really figure out the best clubs to buy, don’t buy them from some website because they’re cheaper. Head to Rick’s, get the best bang for your buck and support a small business. Rick’s Golf World is open year-round. Pop into the shop, 228 N.Union St., Olean, NY 14760, or give Pete a shout at 716-373-6400.