Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 139 / APRIL 1992 / PAGE 110

Personal Pro. (software package for golfers) (Evaluation)
by Richard Mann

If you've ever visited a seasoned golf pro for lessons or help with your game, you undoubtedly received a lot of advice on the technical details of swinging a golf club. Now you can get the same kind of detailed, specific help from your personal computer. MicroLeague Sports' Personal Pro, a rule-based system developed by expert golf instructors, analyzes your swing problems and gives you specific steps to cure them.

Personal Pro consists of two main modules--the swing consultant and the animated diagrams. The swing consultant lets you select from 11 typical problems, including topping, slicing, hooking, skying, hitting fat (hitting the ground before the ball), and shanking.

If, for example, your problem is a persistent slice, you'll answer a dozen or more questions. After a few seconds, checklists for addressing the ball, backswing, downswing, and follow-through appear, giving you suggestions to solve your problem.

Each checklist item has two screens. The item description screen offers a thorough explanation. For example, one item tells you to hold your chin higher. The description consists of a paragraph explaining head, neck, and spine position.

The item drill screen requests that you perform a quick, practical physical activity to test the area of your golf game in question. For example, to check whether you're staying level on your backswing, Pro suggests tying a weight on a string to your shirt button so the weight rests lightly on the ground as you normally address the ball. Then, it instructs you to do your normal backswing. If the weight rises or if the string touches the ground, you aren't staying level during your backswing.

After working through all the suggestions, descriptions, and drills, you can print out a summary of the advice you've received. A sample checklist for a duffer addressed three main faults, six added points of empahasis, and two additional items. Even with all this advice in hand, you may still have trouble visualizing the problem and its correction. The animated diagrams take over here.

Although the rest of the graphics are simple, the developers have animated actual photos of a golfer making the errors you need to avoid along with corrected swings. The animation--and indeed the whole program--requires some effort on your part, though. Intended for serious golfers, Personal Pro's advice helps only when implemented.

You may need to take this a step at a time. Trying to keep your back upright, chin up, neck unbent, and knees flexed with weight evenly on the insides of your feet while turning your right shoulder more to the right, maintaining a constant spine angle, clearing your left hip to the left, fully uncocking your wrists at impact, and keeping your chest down . . . well, it's hard to do it all at once.

Let's apply a little rule-based artificial intelligence of our own here. Are you serious about golf? Do you have swing problems you'd like to cure? ARe you willing to work for the cure? If your answer is yes to one or more, enlist Personal Pro as your personal trainer.