A round of golf for the EMU men's and women's teams is no longer dependent on the weather, thanks to the newly installed SkyTrak golf simulator. This technology, set up in a room in the Facilities Management building, allows golfers to hit balls into a net while the machine analyzes their shots.
Head coach Andre Swartzentruber, in his first year at the helm of the Royals, says the additional practice option has helped his team make more consistent improvements on a range of skills.
"The simulator picks up on the speed of the ball, speed of the club, and the spin of the ball and calculates where the ball would have gone," Swartzentruber explained. "It then shows a simulation of the ball's path through air."
"Being able to see your actions, a golfer is better able to make necessary corrections," said David King, director of athletics at EMU. King said the simulator was purchased with funds donated specifically for this project, as well as fundraising conducted by the team.
Former coach Mike Yoder purchased the simulator two years ago, but it needed additional parts to be fully operational, which Swartzentruber acquired last summer.
"An additional advantage of the simulator is that it doesn't require a lot of space," King said.
It's a real boon for the golfers to accurately calculate how far each shot would have traveled.
"This is very helpful when trying to get the total distance of your clubs figured out," said senior Troy Hodge.
Additionally, the simulator keeps the team on top of their game through the winter.
"The machine helps us practice and maintain good swings for the spring season," says junior Ben Shenk.
In addition to its basic analytic capabilities, the simulator comes with three playing modes – closest to the pin, longest drive, and challenge mode – which can make for some friendly competition between the golfers.
"You can challenge someone else or play by yourself. Our team enjoys the 'closest to the pin' and 'long drive' competitions, because we can compete to see who is the best that day," Hodge said.
-- Randi B. Hagi