Reasons Why Katayama Shingo Praises the Golf Gear Made by Toyota Group’s Toyoda Gosei | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Reasons Why Katayama Shingo Praises the Golf Gear Made by Toyota Group’s Toyoda Gosei

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Pro Katayama, with “FEELSOLE” in hand, explains how effective this item is for correcting the swing.

“By looking at this, you can quickly tell who’s got the ball curving, right?” “Look at this. Mr. Katayama’s weight transfer forms a beautiful straight line. There’s hardly any forward or backward movement!” “This year, using this, during address, you should check for any lateral movement.”

On a certain day in February—Pro golfers Shingo Katayama (51) and Ryo Katsumata (28), among others, who participated in a test hitting event held at a course in Miyazaki City, were laughing like children as they peered into tablets.

What they referred to as this was the smart insole “FEELSOLE.” Developed by Toyota Group’s Toyoda Gosei, this golf gear was described by pro golfer Katayama as a revolutionary item made by the company that handles Lexus interiors, utilizing cutting-edge technology.

Katayama (right) checks the data transmitted to his smartphone after hitting a shot.

“With the proliferation of smartphones, golfers can now shoot and check their swings on the spot at any time. This is certainly a wonderful thing, but swing data such as weight transfer and body balance, the ‘invisible data,’ is equally important.

The swing analysis machine in mat form quantified this ‘invisible data.’ It emerged about three years ago. However, this swing analysis machine had its drawbacks. It was very expensive because it measured by embedding sensors into the ground. Additionally, to take measurements, one had to visit facilities such as studios equipped with the swing analysis machine.

However, ‘FEELSOLE’ simply needs to be inserted into shoes as insoles, yet it provides almost the same data as the mat-type swing analysis machine. Simply by wearing it, you can send data to your smartphone anytime, anywhere for checking. In other words, if you wear it on the course, you can give feedback on the spot for tee shots, bunker shots, and so on. It can be applied to other sports such as baseball and tennis. This is a groundbreaking item!”

Pro Katayama at address. On the right is the data sent from FEELSOLE. The green mark between the footprints indicates the position of the center of gravity. You can see that Katayama moves his center of gravity to the left and right in detail when he decides where to stand.
During a shot. You can see that he is putting force around the ball of his right big toe. The pros were noticing that he was shifting his weight in a straight line without moving back and forth.
Available in three sizes (SML), even the L size weighs only 95g!

Katumata Pro, who participated in the test hitting with Pro Katayama, flashed his white teeth, saying, “I bought it on the spot.”

“I’m conscious of weight distribution, focusing on where to place the weight on the soles of my feet during regular practice. Even just looking at the swing, you can’t tell if you’ll hit the intended shot. The feet in contact with the ground are crucial. How you distribute your weight and where you place your center of gravity affects the address. However, if you want to examine weight distribution and the position of the center of gravity during the swing, you have to go to the studio.

However, ‘FEELSOLE’ allows outdoor measurement. That surprised me first. Just hitting one ball, you can check the data right there on your own. It gave me goosebumps. Golfers would understand, but this means a lot. I think it dramatically changes practice methods and greatly improves practice efficiency. If you study address positions on slopes with this, I think shot errors in various situations will decrease. Seriously, I’m thrilled!”

With FEELSOLE in hand, Katsumata said excitedly, “No kidding, I thought I could aim for the championship with this.”

As Pro Katayama, a legend in the Japanese golf world, mentioned, while the mat-type swing analysis machine comes with a price tag of several million yen, ‘FEELSOLE’ costs just under 50,000 yen. It’s a price that becomes reachable with a little indulgence. Truly, this showcases the development prowess of the global Toyota Group.

But why did Toyoda Gosei turn its attention to golf gear in the first place?

“Toyoda Gosei is a specialist manufacturer of resins and rubber. In its research and development division, it developed rubber e-Rubber with sensor functionality. e-Rubber has features such as being soft, thin, and light, and can adapt to shape deformation. So, from 2019, we started joint research with Nagoya University, thinking, ‘Could it be used for estimating diseases and rehabilitation based on foot pressure if made into insoles?’ While the eventual product will be introduced into the healthcare product market, it takes time to gather evidence such as causality with diseases to sell it as healthcare products. Amidst this, voices within the development team suggested, ‘Could it be repurposed as golf gear?’ Golf has a large population of participants among various sports, and the market is significant. So, it was decided to first enter the golf market, acquire data, and build a track record.”

(‘FEELSOLE’ will be showcased at the Japan Golf Fair held at Pacifico Yokohama from March 8th to 10th. What exactly are the pros praising? It might be worth trying it out on-site to share their excitement.)

“Once you use this, bad shots become crystal clear!” exclaimed a delighted Pro Katayama.



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