Like most golfers, I will literally do anything to improve my golf game.
I play off 22 and have been on the cusp of getting things together to make a serious play at 18 for about two year. That’s despite that fact that I’ve only honoured my 22 handicap about three times, and last weekend, I shot 99 and played abysmally. I’m desperate to make a difference.
From a garage start up back in 2012, Zepp is made for people like me. It’s a sensor that clips to the back of your glove, and delivers detailed metrics on your swing; the type that anyone who’s had a golf lesson down at a professional range will have seen before.
But can Zepp turn you into Jordan Spieth overnight? Can it turn you into Jason Day in a, erm, day? We took it to the range to find out:
Zepp Golf 2: Design and features
Zepp Golf 2 is the follow up to the original model, and while there are cosmetic changes, there’s not a lot new going on under hood.
The headline change is that Zepp is now round, rather than square. Why? Well we didn’t feel that the previous design encumbered us at all, so we assume it’s just to make the updated product visually different, which is fine.
Other differences include a longer battery life of 8 hours, compared to 5 hours on the original Zepp, and one more accelerometer, which should make for more accurate data.
It goes without saying that it’s the most complete and best version of Zepp available to buy today – but from someone who used the original, I don’t really feel that Zepp 2 offers much more for the extra $50. If cash is tight, the original is still more than good enough.
In terms of features, Zepp Golf 2 does much the same as the original, but now takes advantage of some great new in-app features. There’s still the original live shot tracking, but the new Smart Coaching is now a big part of the mix.
It’s important to remember that the Smart Coaching is still part of the Zepp app, so you don’t need the newer sensor in order to enjoy it.
Once you’ve strapped on your sensor, you essentially have the following options: start hitting balls and let Zepp collect and display your your stats, take a test and have the app recommend a training plan, or pick a training plan manually and go with it.
Zepp Golf 2: Stats
In terms of stats, Zepp Golf 2 is identical to its predecessor. Take a swing of a golf club and it will immediately spit out data on club speed, club plane, hand plane, temp, backswing angle, hip rotation and hand speed. In theory, all of this factors are involved in the perfect golf shot. There’s almost no lag time. By the time you’ve watched your ball land, details of the shot will be on your phone or tablet screen.
Obviously, even to the best golfer, most of these factors are mind-boggling. Many of them you will achieve perfectly without even realising, yet one could, in theory, be the issue behind a problem in your game.
That’s why Zepp colour codes the each one using a traffic light system, telling you how close to perfection each metric is. Then, it will wrap your whole performance up into a score out of 100.
Not only that, you can also get a 3D depiction of your swing and you can compare it against a selection of pros, to get a better understanding of the nuances of your swing.
In the data grid view, you can dive into any metric to see what each one means, and there’s a video for each to help you try and improve that area.
It’s all great, but as with the last iteration it’s still a little overwhelming. What’s more, there’s still not enough allowances for the nuances in the technique of individuals. Realistically, you’re not going to reshape your entire swing using Zepp, it’s about honing in on the areas that are cranky and ironing them out. We’d therefore like to see more provision for telling Zepp how your swing works, setting it up for your perfect shot, and looking for deviations from that.
Zepp Golf 2: Smart Coach
While training with Zepp used to be about hitting balls and trying to get the stats board looking as green as possible, the Smart Coach adds a more intelligent aspect to Zepp.
Now occupying the first tab on the app’s screen, you can browse a host of training plans from fundamentals, to better ball striking, increasing power, killing hooks and slices and a host of other golf based conundrums.
When you enter a plan, you’ll get a host of different drills, instructional videos and levels to run through, with things to try at the range.
But which to try?
Well, the beauty of Zepp now is that it will choose a set of drills for you, based on your golf swing. Tap on the Smart Coach icon and choose recommend my focus. It then prompts you to hit 10 shots with the sensor, before it find a weakness in your game and recommends a course to take.
From my diagnosis, Zepp recommended the ‘better ball striking’ course, which certainly has been an issue with my game. So far so good. When you start the course you watch a video, and then Zepp will ask you to hit 50 golf balls using what you learned.
From my time at the range I really felt like I made progress using this course of action, and the videos are great. They’re really well presented (Rick Smith is now my hero) and full of helpful information that anyone can take action on. At the end you can take a swing score test, before moving onto the next set of drills.
The only issue here is that when you take the test, it doesn’t really feel that Zepp can prove you were better than you were before. It can’t say: “hey, you were score 80/100 and now you’re 93/100 after taking our drills”. With so many elements making up a swing score, it’s nigh on impossible to do this reliably. But data addicts will no doubt miss a simple numerical comparison before and after sessions. I do feel this could have been achieved by focusing on the one score affected by the prescribed training plan, rather than overall swing scores, and presented after a drill.
That’s not to say, however, that Zepp doesn’t show you improving over time. Averages are taken for different metrics at every session down at the range, and you can use Zepp Insights to show how your game is improving. To get this data tap the calendar icon in the top right and then slide the top bar to Insights. Choose a metric and you can see average score for all your hits across the last 10 sessions.
It’s a great feature and one that will reward you the more times you go and train with Zepp. And that’s one of Zepp Golf 2’s big successes: with the added content and better intelligence, the structure is better suited to repeat training than ever before.