Golf in February in Vail? You bet |

Golf in February in Vail? You bet

Ian SmithVail, CO Colorado
SPT Winter Golf 1 DT 2-4-09

VAIL, Colorado Is there anything better than spending a day on the slopes?Simply, yes.How about shredding some powder, then heading to the Vail Golf Club to take some swings with your favorite iron.The Vail Golf Club (479-2260) is offering lessons for avid golfers looking for a quick fix. The package utilizes the swing-analysis program, Vertex Golf, during a 30-minute tutorial with golf pro Jeanne Sutherland.Lessons cost $35 for half an hour, or golfers can book three lessons for $100.Beginners and experts alike can use the technology at the Vail Golf Club to improve their swings. Its like watching an instant replay on television with multiple camera angles. Golfers can analyze their swing plane, setup, motion and impact position. Vertex Golf also tells you distance, club speed, ball speed, spin, angle and smash a rating of how well the ball is struck. I think it should be a part of all lessons now, Sutherland said. Whenever you give a lesson, it gives people that visual feedback.To enhance the experience even more, the program allows users to pull up a slow-motion analysis of pro golfers swings like Tiger Woods to compare their swing to on the same screen. Its quite a step up from the days of relying on tips from Colin Montgomerie in Golf Digest.Im a visual learner, Claudia Ruoff, a 7-handicap from Edwards, said. Once I can see what Im supposed to do, its a little bit easier for me to pick up on it.Vail Golf Club will even e-mail golfers the video of their swings, allowing them to check them at home. Its a nice little reminder for those with a lot to work on.Professional helpIn case the multiple camera angles and slow-motion video arent enough to fix a swing, Sutherland is more than qualified to lend advice. Before coming to Vail, she was the head womens golf coach at Texas A&M for 15 years. (Sutherland) is so talented, Ruoff said. She just has an eye for it. For me, its huge because I can see whats wrong or whats right.For beginners, Sutherland can pick up on things right away. The video helps break down exactly where a swing starts to go wrong. Problem areas are more subtle for good players, but the technology still plays a big role in helping improve their game.The fundamentals do leap out at you balance, posture, Sutherland said. When you work with really good players, you can see improvements. Their improvements are so slight, but it could be moving their swing plane three inches. Thats a big deal for good players.First-hand experiencePlaying golf in February, especially in Vail, cant be beat. Of course, I had to take Sutherland up on her offer to let me try the swing analysis program.The experience left my head spinning.I learned I needed to stand up straighter, not roll shoulders forward, move my hands farther from my body, move my legs less and cock my hips. That was all in the first five minutes of turning on the video.In only a short time, I felt like I improved my swing. Ive saved the video on my computer, just to make sure I remember all the tips Sutherland gave me.After my trial, Sports Editor Chris Freud took a whirl. Believe it or not, sparks and smoke didnt come billowing out of the computer. Instead, Freud picked up techniques on his posture and other things that should help his swing. At least thats what Eagle County golf courses are hoping.Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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