AN INTERVIEW WITH ZANE SCOTLAND
We recently spoke with Zane Scotland, owner of the renowned Zane Scotland Academy (ZSA) about his switch from radar-based technology to the GCQuad. Prior to his coaching days, Zane played on the European Tour, Challenge Tour and Asian Tour. After his playing career was cut short by injuries, he began coaching in his early 30s. Following some notable successes with a number of elite players, word began to spread and his client base began to grow. Zane now coaches using his GCQuad launch monitor at the heart of lessons, with the most accurate available ball and club data helping his clients – from amateurs to elite golfers – to develop their games.
How did your golf journey start?
Similarly to most probably – my dad played. Around 10-11 years old, I got to go to golf with him one time; I hit a shot and that was it, I loved it. I can remember the first shot to this day and it all expanded from there. Quite quickly – after five years – somehow I found myself having qualified for a major championship at 16, playing the Open at Carnoustie. Maybe a bit of naiveite possibly, I thought that was what you were supposed to do but now looking back it was a big deal!
How did you begin coaching?
I had a back injury during my playing days; in that time I had a couple of friends who were professional golfers and they knew I had a real interest in the golf swing, just from my own experiences of working with people like David Leadbetter. I’d also been to see the Harmon family, I’ve worked with Pete Cowen, Scott Cranfield – these guys that have been at the head of the industry and I’ve worked with them and took a real interest in the golf swing. Then when I got injured, a couple of good other Tour players – it was actually one Challenge Tour player and one really good amateur – said “will you help me?”
It was something I’d thought I wanted to do when I was about 45 – go into golf coaching – and here I found myself, 32, being asked by a couple of good players and I was like “yeah, of course I’ll help you”, and then at the end of that season they both started to do quite well. The three of us went out for a round of golf and – unbeknownst to each other – at some point in the round they both said to me “will you coach me full-time?”
Todd Clements [the amateur] ended up getting to number 8 on the world amateur rankings and that was a really good journey to be a part of which was great. Off the back of that, more and more good elite players would come along and want to get my take on things.
Tell us about your approach to coaching
First of all you need to capture the data that’s in front of you. It’s the same process for a tour player as it would be for a ten or twelve handicapper. Everyone’s golf is important to them; the twelve handicapper who plays once or twice a week, his golf is just as important to him as the tour player. The difference is that this player might have two kids, a dog and a ‘real job’ so they haven’t got the time, but it means the same amount.
The process is the same, what you first want to do from a coaching point of view is see what pattern this person’s got. Everyone’s got a pattern, whether it be a pattern of good shots or a pattern of poor shots, so we build that pattern. Along with that, at the beginning of the session, we start collecting the data – what’s the club doing, how is the club being delivered, what’s the ball flight – what’s it telling us?
What I’ve seen with the GCQuad is bang on; I can see the trust there because I’m able to look down at the computer screen or the unit and go ‘OK, that aligns with what I’m seeing’, so then it’s my job to say ‘why am I not seeing that link up, or why should that link up?’ I’ll suggest some ideas and go through the analysis and the numbers we’re seeing. Then we can start to get things looking better on camera, which is going to make the numbers look better, which essentially gets the ball flight to do what it should.
And that process is the same whatever the level of golfer really, it just happens to be that I coach a lot of elite golfers – and that’s where I’ve kind of specialised.
Tell us about the Zane Scotland Academy
I like to think we’re a bit of a new-age coaching system. Even as a good player or a tour player, you used to say ‘who can I go to within half an hour of where I live?’ I like to think that we’re going down a new route, the game’s moving on. I don’t overly buy into this ‘let’s re-make golf’ idea; I think golf is really good for a good reason – let’s just all do that really well.
So we do a lot online – I’ve got an app that players can put their swings into and get feedback on their ball flight; they can put their numbers in and say ‘what do you think?’ and I can do a voice-over.
I think all new golfers at some point have filmed their swing. My dad who loves his golf, he’d never film his swing, but there’s a new age of golfer coming through. That’s what ZSA is really – it’s a new age of coaching.
So it’s not just a swing lesson; we’re quite rounded – we look at stats, we look at the schedules of the person, what work are they putting in when they’re away from when the player and I are together…so I like to think we’re an all-round, bespoke coaching service, which I had as a tour player. I had that guy there every week and I could call him or text him or get him to spend an hour with me. Technology has moved on now; if we use technology we can have that experience wherever we are. That’s how you get better, and that’s what we’re about.
What I’ve particularly enjoyed about using the Foresight technology is that the FSX 2018 software is a hidden gem – you can record your whole practice session…actually you don’t even record it, you just go and practice on it and it records it for you and it stores it in your profile. So now, if push comes to shove, I can say to someone on the other side of the world, ‘OK, that’s great you’ve sent your video – now log in to your profile and hit some shots so I can get that data back’. I can give that person the same information as I can the guy stood right next to me – which is magic really isn’t it? It’s fantastic.
Tell us about your experience with golf technology
When I started off, my first real interest for coaching was a radar system. It was OK, it ticked a box, and I think it was good in terms of getting that feedback and data. But like anything, when you start to look in a bit closer, what first of all had seemed like the most revolutionary piece of equipment I’d ever seen, as you get better at it you start to demand more of the information you get, and you start to see the cracks sometimes in the information that’s coming out.
Which kind of led me towards, ‘I want to get really accurate here’ – for sure, using the radar is great for how far I thought the ball was going on that given day, but around it I was thinking that there was still a lot of guessing going on. And we’re using this equipment to take out the guessing here, aren’t we, so let’s go full on. Which is what brought me on to Foresight and using the Quad, I can completely trust it – I can look someone in the eye and say ‘That’s your numbers. That’s it.’
There’s no ‘I think it got that one, or it might be this or that’ – I need to know that is exactly what just happened there. That’s where it been super-key.
Now you go to a tour event and everyone’s got a launch monitor. I saw Bryson DeChambeau at the Dubai Desert Classic and I just see him using his GCQuad on the putting green to warm up, I see him on the driving range with his earphones in hitting shots, he’s got his caddy there, looking at the data that the club’s giving him. In terms of data, he’s the man, right? He’s top of the game, top ten in the world – and he’s going ‘this is the machine’. When you see that sort of thing, you think actually, ‘yeah, that’s the benchmark isn’t it?’
I think that’s where golf is going – right now, someone like him is quite unique – I think in ten years’ time everyone’s going to know. My elite guys know their numbers, but I also have guys who are 7 or 8 handicaps and they know they’re numbers better than some of the Tour Pros. And that’s where it is now – in ten years’ time everyone is going to know their numbers. I just think it’s so key. It’s also a new part of the game isn’t it? I think indoor golf is new; that is people’s introduction to the game. I think people see the game differently – it all used to be feel and so forth, but now it’s like ‘Yeah I want to feel it, but I want to see it and know it as well.’ Everybody just wants better.
How do you use Foresight technology?
Regarding the numbers that I look at, it depends on the environment. If it’s outdoors, I tend to use a bit more of the ball data configurations. If it’s indoors I can really get into the nitty gritty and look at the club and the strike point. So for instance, outdoors, I will take a player out, we’ll go and play nine holes and it’s great – I’ll literally carry the Quad in my hand. I’ll dot up a couple of their clubs with fiducials and I can just walk along and put it down, and then all of a sudden my studio as such is wherever we’re standing. So I’ll stand there with a camera, we’ve got data on the Quad and it works great.
So they can hit a shot and I will tend to look at the spin rate, the launch angle, the ball speed, club speed, those bits, I want to see what they do while in play. Are they doing the same as what they’d be doing on the driving range? Or if they’re going to play a slightly different shot, how does that affect the spin?
A lot of the time, it’s just knowing what players do, it’s not always ‘how can I get better at it?’ – just making someone aware that this is what is actually happening, which is really cool.
And then with the indoor stuff, I would use a lot more strike location – club path, face angles, attack angles. I would get more into that because we’ve got a more controlled environment; you can see how club delivery changes.
Outdoors, used in the right way, it becomes the ultimate feel machine. A lot of people would say ‘it’s a bit numbers-focused – I’m a bit more of a feel player’. Well, that’s absolutely perfect; now what you can do is link your feel to what’s actually happening, and that’s the data that’s going to come back with it.
Then indoors, it’s more like ‘right, we’re going to work on this movement’. Now if I use one of the technical terms with a person that they understand and go ‘right, when you do that, can you see how that changes?’
The other part is, I can’t see or feel strike – the player can see or feel the strike. And even with that, do they know exactly where they’ve struck it, or not? I always ask the question ‘where did you strike that?’ And it’s great for them because they can look at the screen and go ‘oh yeah, I actually thought I hit that a little bit out the toe; actually it’s quite central, it’s just high’, and they start to link it up. So again, feel becomes real.
I’ve worked players – good players, Tour players – and they would be hitting a drive, all the numbers are good, but it’s cutting like anything. But then all of a sudden they’ll put the Quad down and you look at the screen and just go ‘well you’re hitting it out the heel’. I could have dived into an hour of ‘let’s fix the swing, you must be swinging across the ball with an open face’ when actually, especially with a Tour Pro, I just say ‘you’re hitting it out the heel’. They can make an adjustment using their skill, hit it out the middle, and the ball goes dead straight. And we’ve just saved ourselves six months of heartache. We’ve certainly saved ourselves an hour and a half in that session. You’re just hitting it out the heel, that’s it. Sometimes it’s as small as, ‘just line it up a bit out the toe’. You wouldn’t be able to get that without having that feedback, of seeing it on the Quad or on the screen, so that’s where it really, really comes into its own.
What differences have you found between radar and camera-based systems?
I think the strike location and the club data with the camera system is obviously just far superior.
It got to a point with the radar stuff for me where I ended up just not using it, the club data. I would almost disregard it, I wouldn’t use those numbers at all, whereas now I feel like I’ve actually got a really high-quality machine which I can actually use all of.
So that’s the main thing, it’s the club data because I can fully trust it. I know for myself, in my own golf when I play, I just know exactly what I’m doing. As I’ve said before, it’s not always about fixing it, it’s just knowing what you’re doing because then you can compensate.
What I found with the radar stuff was that sometimes I’d think well yeah, that was a funny number, or I’m not sure if that’s quite right. Whereas now I’ll look at the Quad and think, I felt this, or maybe a bit of ego will come out when I think I’ve hit it good and I can look at the system and go ‘actually, I didn’t’ – you know what I mean? There’s no point me fighting against this computer because clearly it will prove me wrong.
The main difference is the strike location, and the club data is just far superior.
How has your trust in your Foresight numbers affected your coaching and playing?
In terms of the coaching, it asks a better question of me because I’ve now got a number that I can trust, and I have to then be better. Because I have to be able to show, ‘look, if we do this and this, it’s going to improve your numbers’. The old style of coaching was ‘do it because I know what I’m talking about and you’ll just get better one day’ or ‘well you haven’t quite got it, it’s just because it’s going to take a long time’, whereas actually, you know what, that’s not good enough.
You should be able to get someone to improve quickly, on the spot. They next part is them owning it and keeping doing it, it’s a different thing. So having the numbers there, you can actually really get through to somebody and say ‘look, this is what you’ve been doing – that’s producing this. Now if you change it, if you change these numbers, and the ball flight does that, that’s going to give you the desired shot.’
So one, it makes me have to deliver a better lesson or service, and two, it instils much more confidence – it helps my confidence in that what I’m doing is working, and it instils the confidence in the golfer because they can actually see a change, actually trust those numbers and actually see the change in the ball flight that link with the numbers. It just makes everyone have to be better basically.
What made you switch from radar to camera-based technology?
I get the question quite a lot, having previously had a radar and having made the decision to move across to the camera-based system, the GCQuad. My response is that it’s a trust thing. Yes, they both have their merits – that’s fine – and they are different machines and it depends what you’re looking for.
I think the main thing is that if you want really, really good club data, and you want to know exactly what the ball does off of that exact club, then it’s a complete no-brainer.
The other part is that I think it’s so super-flexible. The system, the routine for how you set it up – it’s so fast, you can put it down and it’s much more versatile. You can literally just carry it in your hand, you can put it down on the golf course and you can create your studio there, or you can have it in an isolated, set environment and keep it there and use it for that. You can take your studio or your environment wherever you are, and then set-up is so quick.
The next part is the software is just bang on. Being able to share that with somebody, and somebody being able to log in, have their own profile, see all their numbers and how long they practice for and that sort of stuff, it’s ideal.
Where can we find you online?
My website is www.zanescotland.golf – all my details are on there. I tend to use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook a lot more than I would my website because it’s much more interactive, I try and post stuff on my Instagram which is @zanescotlandgolf nearly every day, and put stuff out hopefully to help people and show what we do, and just take us through my golfing life really – what I’m doing. I also do a bit on Twitter and a bit on Facebook, but Instagram is the main one at the moment, so come and find us there!
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