This story appears in the December 2019 edition of Full Swing, the official News Magazine of the New England PGA.
By Nick Heidelberger, New England PGA
It’s cold. Daylight is scarce and there’s snow in the forecast. But business is heating up for Adam Kolloff, PGA, at Pure Drive Golf.
Rather than avoiding the harsh Boston winter like many PGA professionals, Kolloff leans into it. His winter-proof golf facility just outside of Boston features five bays, each with a TrackMan, TV, projector, iPad, two video cameras and computer. The indoor facility also boasts club-fitting, golf leagues, and high-tech instruction that leaves traditional teaching in the dust.
BUILDING THE DREAM
An early adaptor to golf technology – Kolloff literally wrote the book on teaching & learning with TrackMan – Adam first had the idea to open an indoor golf facility years ago.
“Ever since I’ve been using TrackMan I thought the feedback was unbelievable,” he said. “I wanted to create a place where people had access to this, because normally the common golfer does not. To take this idea and create a place like this, it was a long process.”
The process began with finding the right location: a space close to Boston and large enough to house all the bells and whistles in Adam’s vision. It took about a year to find the perfect 4,200 square-foot facility at the intersection of I-93 and I-95 in Woburn about 20 minutes, Lord willing, north of Boston. Once the site was selected, Adam spent another year decking it out with the proper flooring, padded walls, netting, screens, and the tech that sets it apart.
ATTRACTING THE GAMERS
When Adam opened the doors to Pure Drive Golf in April of 2018, he chose to cater to the serious golfer who was looking to improve rather than the social crew looking for a fun night out.
“Most of the other indoor facilities serve alcohol, it’s more about entertainment, ‘Let’s go have a few drinks and have some fun,’ which is great,” he said. “Go do that if that’s what you want to do. But we wanted to get the people who were focused on getting better, focused on playing the best that they can, and I think the facility caters exactly to that type of golfer. I don’t think you see a lot of facilities like this.”
With that philosophy, Pure Drive holds hours normally reserved for your local gym or coffee shop, opening the doors at 6:00 AM a couple times a week to cater to the motivated nine-to-fivers.
“We get a fair amount of guys that come over here and practice, then they go to work,” Adam said. “You have to learn where the highest traffic is, and that’s where you focus the hours you want to be open.”
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
Kolloff’s book, The Ultimate Guide to TrackMan Swing Analysis, which he co-authored with Jim McLean, focuses on getting key data points of a golfer’s swing to fall into prescribed ranges, with tips and drills for metrics that don’t meet the standards. For example, an intermediate player’s prescribed club path is anywhere from -6 to 6 degrees. The book offers opposite sets of drills for paths above and below that threshold.
“A lot of golf professionals and club-fitters would use it,” Adam said of the book. “I started to get the idea of ‘how do I create an application that would give some immediate feedback if your numbers were not within these suggested ranges.’ Because otherwise you would have to keep referencing the book.”
That’s when he came up with the idea for the Pure Drive Golf App. The idea was to provide visual feedback on five aspects of each swing, with easy access to drills and tips to help keep a player’s numbers within the prescribed ranges.
“The first thing I had to do was talk to the CEO of TrackMan to see if he would allow me do to this, because you have to get permission from TrackMan. They don’t allow a lot of people access to their data. Because I had written the book, they like what I’m doing with Trackman, I’m promoting Trackman, I own five of them, he was like ‘Ok, no problem.’”
With no experience in the app developing world, Adam hired a programmer and built the Pure Drive Golf app. Using the app, which connects to TrackMan, a golfer takes a swing and instantly sees color-coded feedback on club path, face-to-path, smash factor, attack angle, and club speed. With one touch, users can click on any metrics in the red zone and see a video demonstration of tips and drills to improve that part of the swing.
“Let’s say your face angle is eight degrees open, which is very common for a beginner who slices. The color is going to be red, they can go over and click on it and there’s three different tips, then they know what to work on. So each bay is like a mini-lesson.”
The Pure Drive app is not only hooked up to each unit inside is facility, but also used by instructors around the country.
MORE THAN JUST HITTING BAYS
Kolloff, who was mentored by Hall of Fame golf instructor Jim McLean and worked as the Director of Instruction at Liberty National Golf Course before opening Pure Drive Golf, takes giving a golf lesson to the next level. His private lesson bay in Pure Drive not only features all the tech of the other hitting bays, but is also mic’d up. This allows Adam to create a digital version of each lesson, which he sends to his students so they can review their lessons any time.
“You weren’t able to do this 30 years ago,” Adam said of giving lessons that revolve around technology. “You would just sit there on a range, watch a golfer hit shots, use divot patterns, the sound of the strike, and the ball-flight. All of that is awesome, don’t get me wrong. There are many amazing teachers that use that who are teaching outside. But Trackman helps take the teaching to the next level. Coaches can assess a golfer more easily, they can determine from the assessment what they need to work on, and they can use the numbers to help track the progress, and that’s huge.”
With 26 launch monitor metrics gathered each time a student strikes a ball, Adam is very calculated about mixing the perfect cocktail of data and shot-making to ensure students don’t get bogged down by trying to make every swing perfect by TrackMan’s standards.
“I make an effort to tell them ‘Hey, you just have to look at one, two, maybe three numbers,’” he said. “If they get their numbers to within a certain range, I tell them ‘Ok you can progress to looking at this.’ I have a way of taking students away from numbers, away from the technical side, and into the performance side, which I think is important.”
While many New England PGA Professionals are headed south, Adam is gearing up for Pure Drive’s peak season. He has bolstered his staff to include assistant professionals Ryan Train, PGA, Pat Bigelow, PGA, Sam Gerry, and master club-fitter Zack Morton, and expects business to keep picking up while area golf courses shut down.
“In the winter time we’re cranking all hours. We’re trying to make ourselves known as a place where you can improve your game, and I think we’re doing a good job of that.”