Friday, 3 March 2017

Skytrak vs Trackman Part 1

I recently conducted some testing to compare my Skytrak to Trackman. I have read a number of comparisons (mainly by golf magazines etc) but none of them come across as very rigorous and they didn't share complete data so that others can peer review/scrutinise.

The objective of this testing was simple, assess the accuracy of my Skytrak against the industry standard Trackman and present full results so others could peer review.

Myself and a playing partner hit balls with a variety of clubs collecting the raw data from both systems.
The balls were range balls (I will cover this later), but they were high quality srixon range balls. In Trackman ball conversion terms they are the equivalent of hard (reduced spin with short irons, elevated spin with long irons/woods).
The weather was excellent (for Scotland in Feb!), approx 6C with a light wind helping slightly from the right.
Skytrak software version was 2.5.4 on and Ipad Air 2.
Trackman 3 in Outdoor mode.

Results (Player A)
Source Data Link

These are the results averaged across all shots and shows excellent correlation across the data except spin axis/side spin. This leads to reduced accuracy for the offline figure. However, I think it is important to remember this is range ball data hitting outside so this is comparing what actually happened to the ball vs the Skytrak flight model. 

Initial Thoughts
  • My Skytrak behaved impeccably throughout this test. Trackman missed 1 shot whilst we were setting up, and Skytrak missed 2 shots during this test. I think this was down to my playing partner hitting the followup ball too quickly.
  • Trackman frequently missed spin data (you can see some of this in the detail worksheet). Skytrak did not miss once, and the results match so closely I found myself trusting the Skytrak data over the Trackman (The trackman spin numbers appeared to fluctuate more).
  • Some people have complained about the delay on Skytrak. For plenty of the longer shots we found ourself waiting for Trackman to finish tracking the ball and present its full data rather than the Skytrak!

Horizontal Launch
This was one measurement I expected to vary because of differential alignment between the systems. Despite this I believe the Skytrak data is very accurate and consistent. The spec for Skytrak is 2Deg and it was within this tolerance.

Spin Axis
The spin axis seems to be exaggerated frequently leading to excessive curvature on shots. My initial response on witnessing this was the Skytrak struggling to read/calculate the side-spin component accurately.  However, given the accuracy of the total spin (or backspin component) and horizontal launch angle it seems highly improbable the raw data capture was to blame. It therefore seems likely there is something weird in the way that raw data is converted into spin axis.

I raised this issue with support and was advised to reinstall the Skytrak software which I have done. At some point I will need to retest and see if the spin axis is captured more accurately.

With the exception of the Spin axis phenomenon described above I was surprised by how closely my Skytrak matched the Trackman data. I think the important parameters (ball speed, v-launch, h-launch, total spin) were measured with highly impressive accuracy especially when you consider the cost differential (2k vs 25k) and the fundamentally different ways in which these units operate.

I will also say that I couldn't use a Trackman at home due to its space requirements, but if I wanted an outdoor ball tracking device and cost wasn't a factor I would definitely have one. The Trackman software is phenomenal and the amount of data it captures with unerring accuracy is amazing. When conditions allow there is no substitute for measuring what actually happened vs what should have (even though the latter is very accurate!). It is the benchmark.

Next Steps

  • Try to summarise across all clubs, shot by shot.
  • Player B data.
  • Open pandora's box and delve into some of the raw Trackman data!
  • Experiment with normalisation and see how that affects the data!
  • Examine some individual shots.
  • Find a GC2/GCQ to test against!

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