December 14, 2021

Swinging for Success

Jeehae Lee ’02's new app helps golfers analyze their game in 3D
by Joe Lemire ’01

Jeehae Lee’s golf resume is impressive. She won two Ivy League team championships at Yale, played on the LPGA Tour, managed superstar Michelle Wie’s career, served as an executive at Topgolf and now is co-founder and CEO of Sportsbox AI, whose first product, 3D Golf, provides biomechanics analysis using only a smartphone.

Before all that, however, Lee starred for Andover’s golf team. Being co-captain of a boys’ golf team in high school remains “one of my favorite fun facts that I tell people,” she says with a laugh. Nearly 20 years later, the details of that experience remain fresh—including beating a highly ranked Deerfield player with a 17th-hole birdie, team travels in the van, and Dairy Queen challenges organized by coaches Nat Smith and Bill Scott. “It’s the little things that stand out most,” she says.

Lee made the most of her Andover education. Even though she already had two difficult math courses lined up for her senior fall—statistics and linear algebra—Lee wanted to take another class with Donald Barry, whose geometry class she enjoyed as a ninth grader. “This is the most Andover thing ever, but I went out of my way to take a third math class my senior fall to have Mr. Barry again,” she adds.

Yuan Han’s instruction in language and mentorship helped, too. Lee was born in Korea and immigrated to the U.S. when she was in middle school, where she learned English and French. At Andover, Lee immersed herself in Chinese, and she credits Dr. Han for challenging her. “Dr. Han always took a special interest in me. He told me I was very smart, but that I just need to work a little harder.”

On the golf course, Lee played two years on the Futures Tour after graduating from Yale in 2006. She then earned a LPGA Tour card at Q-School in the same class as Wie, playing on the Tour through 2011—when she began working at IMG, the global sports, events, and talent management company, and representing Wie.

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Jeehae Lee's experience on the golf course and in business management has primed her for her current role as CEO of Sportsbox AI.

Sportsbox 3D Golf takes slow-motion video from a smartphone and generates accurate swing data based on 39 points of the body.

After Lee earned an MBA from Wharton, Topgolf tapped her for its director of business strategy. Two promotions later, she was head of business development and growth initiatives for the company’s Toptracer brand.

“I think the biggest learning I've taken away from my Topgolf experience has been the leadership and management of a team,” Lee says. “I've had some really great bosses there that have shown me how to not only build a product that people like but how to really build a business and build a team.”

The experience primed Lee for her current role as CEO of Sportsbox AI, where she reunited with her former Yale teammate, Stephanie Wei.

Technology has enabled advanced analysis of golf swings not only for professional players but also for dedicated amateurs, yet most data-collecting motion capture systems require golfers to either wear sensor-laden vests or take swings in expensive multi-camera studios. Sportsbox 3D Golf changes the tool by taking slow-motion video from a smartphone and generating accurate swing data based on 39 points on the body.

The tech itself is legitimately incredible. It’s like magic, turning a 2D video into full 3D information that renders an avatar you can see from multiple angles.

Jeehae Lee CEO, Sportsbox AI

The product has backing from the bold-named glitterati of golf coaching, such as legendary instructor David Leadbetter and Sean Foley, who coaches Justin Rose and Lydia Ko, both of whom have reached a No. 1 world ranking. They were sold on the product, sure, but its leadership, they say, made it a standout.

“Jeehae is incredibly impressive,” Foley says.

3D Golf launched on iPhone in October and Android in November, initially on an invite-only basis for coaches, but with plans for wider expansion. A consumer version is slated for 2022 through which “a golfer of any level can get an analysis and have the AI coaching module recommend a few tips, as well as drill content and instructional content that's relevant for them,” Lee says.

That’s a far cry from the experience of Lee’s own playing days a dozen years ago, when she’d leave practice with a take-home compact disc on which a video of her lesson had been burned.

“The iPhone has been revolutionary for coaching,” she says. “With the advent of the iPhone, lessons have changed forever.”

Categories: Alumni, Magazine, Magazine Online

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