ASU can analyze your swing the high-tech way

By Rebecca Larsen, Contributor

ASU Karsten Golf CourseTEMPE, Ariz. - ASU Karsten Golf Course, a public course in Tempe that is the official home of the ASU golf team, held a grand opening recently to show off its new Ping Learning Center.

The center has a V1 digital computer coaching system including a launch monitor that can analyze the spin rate, ball speed, launch angle and clubhead speed when you hit a golf ball into a net 30 feet away. A computer analysis immediately plots the trajectory, distance and direction that your shot would travel out on a golf course. And a videotape is made of the player's swing so that it can be compared on a split screen monitor to the swings of dozens of tour pros.

You don't just have to take a full swing with a driver either with this system; it can also be used with pitching and chipping.

Not only can this analysis help you improve posture, grip, swing plane and other factors, you also can use it to help choose the clubs you want to buy.

"If you can't change your swing, it can tell you what kind of club to use," said Matt Trimble, one of the ASU instructors. "It can also tell you what kind of ball to use."

Obviously, the ASU golf team will use the monitor extensively; instructors said players will visit the center regularly to analyze what happens to the ball as they swing their clubs under the watchful eye of a video monitor.

John Solheim and Matt TrimbleBut average recreational golfers take lessons at Karsten as well, and the computerized coaching system will help them, too.

"Tour professionals can get these kinds of services and now the public can get them as well," said Trimble.

The Solheim family, owners of Ping, funded the center at the course. Ping is based in Arizona, and the Solheims were also big contributors to the ASU course, designed by Pete Dye. The center is air-conditioned, by the way, so don't hesitate to sign up for lessons in July.

The instructors at ASU Karsten offer private lessons, group programs and customized schools. Call (480) 784-4839 for information or check out asukarsten.com. For a tee time at ASU Karsten, call (480) 921-8070.

The course and learning center are located at 1125 E. Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe, practically across the street from the ASU Sundevil Stadium.

Longbow Golf Club reopens - but very quietly

After several months of construction, Longbow Golf Club in Mesa has begun allowing play again this spring in what the course calls a "soft reopening."

The existing 18-hole course was purchased in 2001 by Dover Associates of Phoenix, which also bought 149 acres nearby to create the Longbow Business Park and Golf Club.

Longbow Golf CourseIn order to make space for commercial building sites, Dover decided to move some holes on the course and remodel others. Ken Kavanaugh, the original architect of the popular Longbow course, was brought in to redesign the course.

Kavanaugh, a noted Tucson architect, made good use of the opportunity, according to Jay Larscheid, the head golf professional at the course, and capitalized on the mountain views in the area to an extent not possible before.

"He managed to make some elevation changes on the site and now on the No. 5 tee box, for example, you can see most of the front nine and all the mountains around us. He really did a great job," Larscheid says. "It's going to remind everyone of Kierland (Golf Club) in Scottsdale."

The course used to run largely north and south and "now it runs east and west so you get a better view," Larscheid says.

There are now and will be very few high-rise buildings in the area. That's because the course lies near Falcon Field, a local small-plane airport, and the Longbow Apache helicopter factory.

The formal grand opening of the course won't be held until the fall. That's because the site is still in transition because of construction on a new clu bhouse and work being done on the business park site.

Meanwhile, it's possible to play the finished course for $35 Monday through Thursday and for $40 Friday through Sunday.

Longbow is located at 5400 E. McDowell Road, Mesa 85215, near the intersection of Higley and McDowell roads. Phone: 480-807-5400. Web site: longbowgolf.com.

OB Sports hoping for quick opening for Tuscany Golf Resort

For months, the opening of the brand-new Tuscany Golf Resort in Henderson, Nev., has been on hold. But now it looks as if the course will finally open in early summer.

According to C.A. Roberts, marketing director for OB Sports of Scottsdale, which will manage the property, the delay has been due to a dispute about permits for road that will run up to the golf course.

ASU Player demos equipment"The permit for the road has been on regulatory hold for a year and a half," said Roberts, "but now the road is under construction and the course is ready to go soon."

In an ironic turn of events OB Sports Management has also taken over management recently of two other courses in Las Vegas - Angel Park and the Legacy.

It seems that once upon a time a parent company named OB Sports owned these two courses along with a number of others that were sold off in 2000 to another firm. That purchaser held onto these new courses under the name "OB Sports LLC." But the economic troubles of the past couple of years took their toll, and OB Sports LLC - by now no relation to the firm in Scottsdale - filed for bankruptcy in February.

In the final settlement, Pacific Life, the lender that held the mortgages on the courses, took control of Angel Park and Legacy and has now hired OB Sports Management to come back in and run the two courses.

"It's a triumphant return for us to Las Vegas that was greeted by a big round of applause at the courses," Roberts said. "I'm not going to try to pretend that it was the past management that caused all the problems because it's been a crazy world out there since 2001. But part of what made those courses successful in the past was their emphasis on local golfers, and we' re going to try to get those local players back again."

Part of it will be through pushing sales of local resident discount cards. But besides offering cut rates to their neighbors, the courses will also offer better access to tee times for locals and promote activities like best-ball tournaments and scrambles for cardholders. "We hope to get people to show up and interact. People like to go places where they feel good," Roberts said.

For more information on Angel Park, call (888) 629-3929 or check out angelpark.com. For more on the Legacy, call (888) 629-3929 or check out thelegacygc.com. For more on Tuscany call (877) 282-7602 or (866) TUSCANY or check out tuscanygolfclub.com.

Rebecca LarsenRebecca Larsen, Contributor

Rebecca Larsen is a former features and assistant features editor for the Marin Independent Journal, a medium-sized daily paper located north of San Francisco. She has also worked for the Milwaukee Journal and for a Chicago public relations firm. She has a bachelor's in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's from the University of California at Berkeley.


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