Published by : Stuart McLean - 20 March 2024

Mount Edgecombe CC in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal has become the first Top 100 club to introduce the Trackman Range application at 10 of the bays on their Driving Range. The undercover bays come with fine nozzle sprayers to keep golfers cool on hot days.

The Trackman Range project is part of a R5-million investment upgrading the MECC range which is a separate facility open to the public with its own car park and clubhouse a short drive from the main MECC clubhouse. It has a restaurant and club fitting centre. There are floodlights so it stays open until 8pm seven days a week.

General manager Steve Cottingham is one of South Africa’s leading teachers – a former PGA Teaching Pro of the Year – and says the addition of Trackman Range at the beginning of the year has revolutionised the business and grown attendance. Large screens and new quality mats have been fitted at each of the 10 bays.

Golfers using the Trackman bays and screens at MECC range.

“Golfers pay more for using the Trackman bays, but you can hire a bay by the hour for R300 with unlimited balls and share it with friends,” said Cottingham. “There’s chairs and a table at each bay where everyone can relax while others are hitting balls. In quiet times up until 3pm we allow golfers to use the bays for R165 and a bucket of 60 balls”

Trackman is a Danish technology company – many mistakenly assume it is American – for both serious and fun golfers. There’s an arcadia of games which youngsters can play, while those who want to improve their practice sessions can benefit from the range of data available. Instead of aimlessly hitting balls, you can learn from each one in the bucket. There are eight data points so it’s not too complex.

Trackman Range records the activities of all players through its Golf App, keeping all personal data on the app.

You can drop a ball anywhere on the hitting mat, as two radar posts will instantly pick up the flight of the ball once it leaves the clubhead with 3D ball flight measurement.

Steve Cottingham, left, with fellow teachers Chinell Becker and Emile Steinmann.

Obviously Trackman tells you how far you are hitting the ball, both carry and total distance, and the proximity of each shot to a flag on the range, but key data is Ball Speed and Launch Angle. Increasing your ball speed while on the range is one element of seeing how you can improve your power game, as is working on a consistent launch angle. It’s amazing how both these can fluctuate wildly if you lose focus during a session.

Trackman data shows beginner golfers how far they have to change their swings in order to accomplish a change in ball flight.

There’s a simulator on the screen where you can play famous courses from all over the globe – there are hundreds in the Trackman library – and Cottingham says they are working on soon having The Woods at Mount Edgecombe mapped out so it can be included.

“This will be a great addition, as golfers can then play holes on The Woods where they might struggle, and gain confidence by perfecting shots on the simulator.”

A general view of the MECC range showing the large number of undercover bays.

The MECC range bays stand at the top of a hillside, so all play downhill. It is a large property, with ample room to hit driver. However, there is a residential estate over the left fence, and Cottingham receives alerts on his phone if balls stray over the fence from the Trackman bays. “I’m notified as to who the culprit is,” he says.

Cottingham is assisted by three other teachers in Emile Steinmann, Sunshine Tour pro Michael Hollick, and Chinell Becker.

The range has other undercover bays without Trackman, and grass bays for those who prefer to pay extra for that. There’s both a chipping green and practice putting green.

There is a Trackman Range facility in Gauteng, at Zwartkop Country Club in Centurion owned by the Hayes family. It has nine bays, priced at R250 an hour for one person with unlimited balls, R300 for two persons, and R400 for four. The former 18-hole course was reduced to 9 holes in 2023, and the range was then built on part of the former front nine.

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