I have been familiar with the DVPutt system
for quite a while now. I feature this system right beside the Science and Motion Puttlab
on my Training Aids main page. Putting teacher Mike Shannon at Sea Island Resort and also Mike McGetrick in Colorado, among other PGA members, have adopted the DVPutt system and are very pleased with it for their purposes. In contrast, the SAM Puttlab is installeld in the Hank Haney ranch in Texas and in the David Leadbetter Golf Academy at ChampionsGate in Orlando so far in America and across Europe. So what's the difference?
The principal differences, apart from the ultrasonic high-frequency precision of the Puttlab (0.1 mm in realtime) versus the visual framespeed of the DVPutt camera (less "temporal-spatial resolution" of the motion -- i.e., less precise detail about position in the motion), seem to be three:
1. Parameters measured: 28 for SAM Puttlab vs. 8 for DVPutt;
2. Dimensions tracked: 3 for SAM Puttlab vs. 2 for DVPutt; and
3. Comparison Data: Immediate rating of individual stroke parameters against a growing composite of top player performance for that same parameter with the SAM Puttlab vs. an indicator "line" of the ideal putt path in 2-D as backdrop for a 2-D drawing or plotting of the golfer's stroke with the DVPutt and no comparison database in the system for comparisons of parameters against an expert composite model.
That's sort of like ranking a Mercedes against my Ford Taurus. I like my Ford Taurus a lot, but I'm not delusional about its ranking in the world of fine automobiles.
The DVPutt system works by pointing a special digital camera down from a tripod at the stroke zone and using software to process the imaging frames and generate a plot of the putter motion (drawings of face angle lines in succession). This is fundamentally only a 2-dimesional system. You cannot really measure and evaluate with this special camera and software the position of the putter in motion in its REAL "shape" thru the 3-dimensions of space as the ultrasonic system of the SAM Puttlab does. Specifically, the DVPutt digital camera cannot evaluate the vertical dimension of the "shape" of the stroke in the air. This parameter is extremely important for taking a look at impact dynamics as they affect roll quality and line.
DVPutt's 2-dimensional "plot" of putter trajectory thru "flat" space as seen from the camera position:
The above image represents a 2-D view (and analysis and plotting) of the stroke in the X-axis and the Y-axis, and shows no data at all in the Z-axis (up-down).
In comparison, this screenshot of the SAM Puttlab data analysis shows in the top left corner the representations of very precise Z-axis data, along with all the other X-axis and Y-axis data made possible by the high-frequency signalling EMITTED from the putter in realtime motion, not viewed by a camera with slower sampling frames per second:
This is really one whale of a difference in terms of knowing what is happening! The SAM Puttlab wins the data-gatering, analysis, and display "battle of the bands" hands-down -- no contest from a technology viewpoint, in my estimation.
I think I may be a bit biased about this, though, as I seem to be the only teacher in putting who emphasizes the vertical component of the putting stroke with such relentless insistence -- it's the "physics" basis for a straight putt! Everyone knows the left-right sideways (X axis) dimension is needed to power the ball towards the target, but it is the VERTICAL dimension (Z axis) and not the front-back or near-far dimension (Y axis) that determines the straightness of the roll AND the quality of the roll.
The vertical dimension is the upward rising of the putter head in the air back and thru in relation to the bottom of the stroke arc (middle of body usually). This point of symmetry for the back and thru parts of the vertical dimension of the stroke is really what determines ball position and solid impact, AND the more vertical component you add to the 3 dimensions of the stroke movement, along with the necessary X-axis component, the LESS Y-axis gating and face-angle changing can fit into the stroke. It is sort of like the same way that a high-loft club like a wedge puts in a lot of vertically oriented backspin that keeps the ball flight STRAIGHT not really because of the backspin itself but rather because the backspin PRECLUDES side-spin that makes the ball flight hook or slice off line.
Similarly, a straight putt is more like kicking an end-over-end fieldgoal with a football (combining X-axis power and Z-axis direction control that is straight online at all times) than it is trying to slug a pitch ONLY over the pitcher's head and ONLY over the center-field bleacher wall with a baseball bat arcing or gating around (combining X-axis power and Y-axis directional variation that goes "straight" only at one precise moment in the swing). The reason soccer-style fieldgoal kicking took hold in American football is the added POWER of that technique and the fact that the side of the foot offers better line / direction control than the toe of the foot. But this is not the case with a putter. In putting, the accrate golfer at putting is like an old-style fieldgoal kicker who has a foot wider at the toe than along the side, and who doesn't need the power anyway. So he keeps the action of the "foot" (putter) working vertically in the line he intends for the roll of the ball (X-axis only, little to no Y-axis).
Therefore, if you really want to know the "shape" of the stroke so that you can intelligently and comprehensively measure the IMPORTANT features of the motion, you are compelled to concern yourself very much with the vertical or Z-axis dimension. The SAM Puttlab shows this is exquisite detail. If you wish to take some sort of look at the vertical dmension using the DVPutt system, you have to abandon the special digital camera's capablities and the software processing of the 2-D image, reposition the camer at ground level, and switch the function of the camera to a plain-vanilla "video" mode that is bereft of computer processing and parameter monitoring. You CAN use the DVPutt to "look at" or "watch" the vertical dimension, but you cannot use it to "analyze" and "plot" and "compare" vertical parameters the way you can with the SAM Puttlab.
I don't want to sound critical of the DVPutt system -- it is a very fine tool for the normal golf school setting one finds across the country. But it simply is not on the same level as the SAM Puttlab for stroke analysis, problem identification, optimization, and teaching-learning.
The SAM Puttlab has been designed by Dr Christian Marquardt to generate and analyze sufficiently precise data to enable him to identify and address very precise moments in the stroke where problems arise. You can see this detail by the degree of jumpiness of the plots in the above Puttlab plotting of ultrasonic data from the putter itself compared to the series of face-angle lines drawn by the DVPutt camera "looking at" the putter in motion in the DVPutt picture above.
The SAM Puttlab is much more the serious-science technology.
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