Golf Training Aids, Are Golfers Gadget Freaks?
Are golfers gadget freaks? You bet! That is why we carry these huge bags around. Look inside any one and you will find any number of strange creatures, from plastic wiffle balls that don’t go anywhere when you hit them to straps to tie on to various parts of our anatomy. We’ve got the weighted clubs, the hinged clubs, the telescopic extention water-ball retrievers, the Alien wedges. Lost, in the multitude of pockets, you can find ball markers from every course we ever played, with the complimentary golf green repair tool as well. The ones that we don’t like to use very often, come from that fancy course we played last year and don’t want to loose.
At all the tournaments that we play in we get these sponsorship packages, with the spyglass range finder that does not work. (But, its got the name of the local bank engraved on the outside of it you know) We’ve got the latest club-logo clip on our hat ball marker, the new club cleaner wash cloth with the plastic on one side so we can keep it in our back pocket. And most of all when we travel, we like to get a new tag from the exotic golf club that we played on vacation to dangle off of our bag for the boys when we get home.
If you look in our garages you will find the portable driving mat and capture net. Don’t even ask about our personal den/home office with the roll out putting green and automatic ball returner. Don’t even ask about the collection of VHS tapes and later DVD’s on the shelf or the two solid rows of books on the shelves. After years of frustration at not being able to put the Wilson golf ball on the tee of my sno-globe I gave it away to a collector. Imagine my frustrated amazement when he deftly flicked it and floated the golf ball onto the tee in one flick of the wrist. But hey, I play golf for fun and frustration…he just collects things, and I glued my “Hole-in-one ball to the tee on my own homemade plaque.
Are these gadgets and training aids useful and do they work? You bet, a weighted club will help you to warm up (Be sure to stretch and get loose before you start swinging). Are there specific areas of your game where you are having a challenge? When you are a beginning golfer that can be a lot of places, or everywhere, but as you get better you will begin to identify areas that need more work than others. Lets look at a few of the offerings that will help you to improve your game.
Ok Mike you are going off the deep end now! Hold on a sec and let me explain. You can be short an horrible off the tee, it may take a while to learn to get distance with your irons, but the place that you can improve the most and in the quickest time is in your short game. I pointed this out in my short game post; you need to know how far your wedges travel at a certain length of back-swing. The best way to find out is to go to a practice facility and measure it off and see exactly what that distance really looks like. If you go out in the spring when your local course first opens up there are days when the course is not crowded at all and you can play by yourself. Break out the tape when you get close to the hole and take a few measurements. Now that you know what 50′ (or 100′) looks like you will know which wedge you can use a full swing or an 11 o’clock swing or a 9 o’clock swing to get you close to the center of the green. See the post for more information. When you get lethal around the green you can keep up with the gorillas who can drive the ball a country mile and tend to use this same prowess around the green when they really need touch and finesse.
If you are just starting out one of the challenges you will face is learning how to make full and correct contact with the ball. The professionals have teamed with the statistical types and discovered that for every quarter of an inch you are from hitting the center of the ball with the center of club face you loose about 15 yards in distance. Ouch! And that is for a direct hit! What about when you hit the ball in a glancing way with the club-face at a slight angle to the direction of the swing? Yep you guessed it, you loose even more potential distance. That is why from the very first lesson you take a good instructor will tell you to make sure that all the elements of your posture and setup are correct.
Here is the biggest challenge for any golfer. Total awareness of what all the parts of your body are doing in the approximately 3.5 seconds that it takes to start and complete a golf swing. As a beginner, it seems like quite an accomplishment to simply complete the swing without falling down let alone to be aware of where your knees, hips and elbows are. Here is a tool that will help you with a part of that dynamic.
Are you bending your target side arm during your back-swing? If you are you, are loosing distance. Now a good setup will correct part of that problem, and eventually you will learn to keep your target side arm straight while you fold the other arm in toward your chest at the top of the swing. This simple strap sits just below the elbow and helps you to insure that you are not bending. Genius! for a piece of velcro and a piece of plastic you will be given an automatic reminder when you do not feel that pressure on your bicep you have bent your arm. Obviously you cannot play on the course with this (unless you are alone or your partners agree) but it is a great training aid to remind you to keep your arm straight.
This little golf training aid is called “Golfstr” it is available from http://www.golfstr.com/
Why is a bent arm such a detriment? There are 2 things here, radius and wrist-cock. When you bend your arm you are shortening the potential length of your swing ever so slightly which reduces the speed of your club-head and increases the chances of topping the ball. The other element is wrist-cock, it is your wrist that should bend in the upper part of your back-swing. At the top of the swing you transition into the down-swing; the feeling that you will chase for the rest of your golfing life is learning to feel when your wrists open up for that final snap as the club-head whips through the ball. This takes just a few milli-seconds so don’t expect to isolate it; you can see it in slow motion videos as the hands of the pro get to a position of being parallel with the ground on the down-swing the wrists un-cock and the club-head gets an extra boost of speed through the ball for an amazing increase in distance. This ain’t gonna happen with a bent arm back-swing! (See Tigers Swing) There is much more that could be said about this part of the swing but that will be the subject of another post later on.
While we are on the subject of straps here is one more for the lower part of the anatomy. Do you know anybody that sways during his back-swing? That was only me for the first 15 years that I played golf. Of course no one ever told me (Hey we gotta be polite and all that you know) so I did not even know I was doing it. When I finally found out in a lesson, my pro had me turn my right toe in toward my left foot. When I tried to swing my 7 iron I almost broke my right knee; ouch that hurt. This is much more humane and guess what? It will cure the sways in a hurry. Once again when you learn proper setup procedures and keep your weight distribution on the inside balls of your feet you will stop swaying. This strap assembly will give you the ability to feel and to see the difference staying centered over the ball really feels like. It can be an amazing feeling for someone who has never felt it. You can find The Power Leg Strap at: In The Hole Golf
For swaying and reverse pivot here is a superior training aid: