The V1 Golf Plus app connects a golfer to a network of more than 6,000 PGA professionals, who can provide additional instructional feedback. [Photo: Brian Walters Photography]
Ted Ray was a prominent professional player during the first quarter of the 20th century, when golf was growing roots. The inaugural captain of the British Ryder Cup team in 1927, Ray won a British Open and a U.S. Open, and is well remembered for being part of the 1913 U.S. Open playoff with Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet.
Ray also was a quotable sort, and once observed, "Golf is a fascinating game. It has taken me nearly 40 years to discover that I can't play it.”
One can’t help but wonder if Ray, a niblick in one hand and an ever-present pipe in the other, might have shaved years off that journey with the V1 Plus Sports app. You’ve heard of a “genie in a bottle,” well the remote lesson app is like having a pro in your pocket.
The basic V1 Golf is available as a free download, while the V1 Golf Plus includes many more functions and features, and is billed as a subscription service — $6.99 per month or $3.33 per month annually.
Hard to believe such technology has been around so long, but V1’s video instructional platform has been available for 20 years. Where golf is concerned, it is a teaching tool used by more than 6,000 PGA professionals around the country, a network that includes Butch and Claude Harmon, David Leadbetter, Martin Hall and Randy Smith.
More important than name dropping, the app allows a player to expedite the designated time and designated place for a lesson, and encourages the player to bypass the “40 years” of discovery, to get immediate help remotely. That is, you can use your phone to record video of your swing, analyze it yourself, or send it to a mentor for help. Right now, right there.
“Well, take this the right way, it’s very convenient for the student,” said Brian Fogt, a teaching professional at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. He then added with a laugh, “Not so convenient for the teacher. When you start getting emails at 10:30 at night, it can be a little challenging.”
Fogt quickly clarified that in his experience, overzealous users are few and far between. He has been offering the V1 app to his students for 15 years and has found the vast majority not only use the app appropriately, they use it to great advantage.
“It’s able to look at what you’re doing, draw the lines and isolate the things in your swing, and it does so completely unbiased,” Fogt explained. “It tells the truth, it doesn’t have an agenda. It’s not CNN or FOX.
“It’s completely arbitrary and you get very good feedback, and the visual components are different from all the other analytical things out there. For a lot of people, the visual component is more easily understandable and easy to digest.”
Fogt used PGA Tour pro and recent Desert Classic winner Adam Long as an example. Fogt has worked with the St. Louis native since Long was 9 years old, and has swing videos from various stages of his development. Now, Long can send Fogt V1 Golf video of a current, problematic swing and — many miles away — Fogt can provide a telestrated, diagnostic response. Moreover, he can attach side by side or overlay video of a Long swing from the past for comparison.
“I can send that and show him, ‘Here’s what a really good player did in college, and here’s what you’re doing now. You don’t have to try to copy it exactly, but let’s look at how they’re different, how we can apply it.’ ”
If he chooses, Fogt also might incorporate a video of Tiger Woods’ swing or any one of the accomplished players in V1’s extensive library of tutorial videos.
“I’ve got Tiger from 2000-2001 when he was at the peak of his dominance,” Fogt said. “Not that his swing was perfect, but it was pretty darn reliable. You can use that as a benchmark or a companion tool, and I think that’s pretty darn valuable.”
The V1 apps have other functions to help aspiring birdie-collectors. Various practice drills and tips are built in. A player can compare two videos in slow motion and frame-by-frame. Also, V1 Golf Plus has unlimited cloud storage for personal videos and lessons, along with premium in-app support.
In short, it’s not always easy to look in the mirror. But the V1 Golf app makes it possible to look, learn and get help.
Dan O’Neill, who covered golf for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1989 to 2017, is an editorial consultant on golf for Fox Sports. His articles have appeared in publications such as Golfweek, Golf World, Golf.com and The Memorial magazine.