I Asked AI To Improve My Golf Swing. Here's What Happened

Genelle Aldred tested the AI swing coach, as she was curious to find out if the technology that's taking over the world could improve her golf

Genelle Aldred AI
(Image credit: Genelle Aldred)

You may be like Tiger Woods who says don’t watch YouTube videos if you want to be a better golfer, or you might be someone who has a favourite online personality who has coached you for free, from a distance. You might even have lessons online or through an app. Now we have an AI swing coach.

I’m old enough to remember when the internet went mainstream. Good old dial up, 33 attempts and nothing much happening. I remember the fear of what the internet could do, or be and change. Decades on we see how much the worldwide web has changed everything, including golf. And now the next frontier, AI, the unknown that is now part of everyday life.

I’m the curious kind, so I wondered if an AI swing coach could help me with my swing. I was going really well and cutting my handicap. Next thing I know, bam, can’t hit a ball. I saw 18 Birdies had a part of the app that said it could analyse your swing and help you improve it. In the depths of my despair I thought why not give it a go.

In a way it's actually pretty decent, you film your swing from the front and the side. You don’t need to hit a ball, you can simply use a club and swing. It assesses your swing against 10 checkpoints from set-up, backswing and impact. 

The assessment told me that my leg bend in the set-up, head movement and (in their words) butt position in the backswing needed improvement. My spine angle and butt position on impact were also somewhat lacking in finesse. Then they prescribed some drills in line with your failures and tell you why your issues are holding you back. 

Genelle Aldred

Genelle didn't have time to do all the drills that were prescribed every day

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

That was my first assessment, I tried the drills and tried the same analysis. For my second go I went from passing five out of ten to just four and the next time, just three. You get the idea, I was seemingly regressing!

I must confess that I didn’t have all the time to do the drills that were prescribed every single day, which was my weakness. We know that what comes out of AI is only as good as the data sets that go into it. I think that there are a couple of improvements needed with the way they collect your swing data.  

When I look at the body types used for the drills, I can see how my butt positions may look a little different. I wonder how many different kinds of body types are used to account for all the different kinds we see on the course?

And if we take it that they did use different kinds of bodies, the other part that could maybe be changed is that you only swing once for the assessment. How many of us have repeatable swings? With a coach you’ll swing good and bad over 10 swings, and unless you want to film each swing, you might film your best or worst swing of the day.  As a newer golfer my swings can be slightly erratic, and I didn’t want to film and film to get the best one. Rather than do two or three swings and get an aggregated result you get it from one swing, which is why the results might be getting worse or better over time with or without doing all the drills. 

Finally, I actually think the AI swing coach is a great thing. We use technology so much in golf, why not this? However the caveat is, unlike a coach that can help to tailor your swing to you, AI cannot do this. I also think you would need to be a more established golfer to not just use the drills, but understand more about what exactly needs to be done. You probably have a swing that is repeatable - be that good or bad - which means the data is probably more reliable. For me, at this stage a real live coach is my best way to improve. AI analysis could maybe be something I take to coach, but the help I need is more personal and tailored to me. 

Genelle Aldred

Genelle Aldred has dived head first into the world of golf after starting on the greens in February 2022. She has two missions to get her handicap right down using PXG Gen 6 clubs and a Cleveland putter, and to get as many of her family and friends as possible to take up the sport. For over 15 years Genelle has worked as a Newsreader and Broadcast Journalist and is currently Deputy Chair of Women in Journalism. Now she gets to combine her passion with her work. Genelle was born in Birmingham, but her family quickly moved to Kent, Oxford and Sheffield before returning to the Midlands aged 13. For the past 20 years Genelle has lived between Birmingham and London before settling in north London where there are plenty of golf courses all around her!