New England golfers are faced each year at this time that for the next several months the weather will just about eliminate golf. Oh sure, there may be days when the temperature, snow, ice and wind may mitigate somewhat but unless we are taking a southern trip, golf is pretty much out of the question.
So what should we do? The answer is easy—prepare for next season. Taking lessons or time in a golf simulator are impractical on a daily basis so we suggest using some of the products that can help you improve your setup, swing and golf fitness either at home or in the office. In other words, make your own indoor golf training center.
You can spend the amount of money that fits in your budget and your personal training center is ready for you whenever you want. Of the hundreds on training products on the market here are a few we suggest to get you on the road to a better golf game.
An impact screen is a is the first addition your home or business needs for your indoor golf station. The Eclipse Screen Shot Golf Impact Screen is great for indoor use since it retracts completely out of the way to free up space. It can display HD quality graphic images from a launch monitor. Screen Shot systems are custom made for specific needs and start at $3,995.
PERSONAL LAUNCH MONITORS
Personal launch monitors report data on almost every aspect of the swing and help to focus your efforts. We think you will be interested in the latest from FlightScope. The Mevo ($499) is a personal launch monitor that synchronizes with your smartphone to capture automated video with a data overlay in a customizable display. In addition to ball and club speed, launch angle and carry distance are measured plus with an adhesive metallic dot on the ball spin rate is collected. Data is stored to be uploaded later and a feature you will like especially is that Mevo clips the video automatically after impact saving memory and battery charge. To raise your practice to an even more sophisticated level try FlightScope’s FocusBand. It helps you train the brain to be calmer by measuring brain waves then, in real time, displays them on your mobile device. If used with a FlightScope, FocusBand measurements can be shown alongside ball flight and club data. The FocusBand with three sensors is priced at $500.
We also like the SkyTrak, a realistic golf practice and play system that connects wirelessly to any mobile device or computer and captures launch data showing ball flight for instant feedback on each shot. There’s simulated play on famous courses and the portability of the SkyTrak unit makes it easy to set up for use even for a brief period to time. The cost is $1,995 for the basic unit with several optional packages available.
The EX16 Tour from Ernest Sports combines radar to measure clubhead speed, ball speed and distance with cameras detecting angle of attack, smash factor, ball spin and other data for a complete picture of what your swing produces. The technology is so good it actually can “see” the dimples on the ball as it launches and no special ball is needed. Pricing for the Ernest ES16 Tour is $5,895.
No offseason (or in season for that matter) training regimen is complete without a swing trainer and we like the Orange Whip used by teaching professionals to give students a sense of the rhythm, balance, timing and feel of a proper golf swing. We found the Orange Whip ($109) a practical tool to show anyone the correct release and swing plane giving instant feedback which makes it a must if you are fighting a slice. The counterweighted ball on the end of the soft shaft makes it perfect as a before-round warm up device and consistent use has the additional benefit of making you more flexible and strengthening your body turn.
It’s a good idea to use the offseason to deal with specific swing faults and one of the most common is rushing the downswing or not properly setting the club at the top, obviously another rhythm and timing issue. This leads to several problems from wild slices to pull hooks and we can train ourselves to feel the proper transition point with a simple device, the Swingclick. It straps to your lead arm just below the elbow and makes an audible click at the top of the backswing teaching the patience needed to have a good transition, giving time for the clubhead to get back to square. Swingclick ($26) is light and the strap stretches to fit any size arm.
If you are working on controlling the clubface path, particularly with your irons, check out theHANGER. It attaches to any iron and has a clubhead for reference so you can properly align your setup. Then, with theHANGER ($70) in place, swings will always be on plane with the clubface square to the intended line and training you to have correct wrist flex. We found it does wonders teaching how to not have the dreaded over-the-top move, the bane of slicers.
Though to now we’ve talked about the full swing the offseason doesn’t mean the short game should be neglected. Training to be a better putter is possible on the office or family room carpet even if there’s a layer of ice on the club’s putting green. The unique design of the PuttOut Pressure Putt Trainer teaches pace returning a good putt the same distance it would have gone past the hole and shunts bad putts to the side. The PuttOut ($30) is made from a rugged plastic, folds to fit in a golf bag and works equally well in the living room or practice green.
The newest technology to train to be a better putter can be found in Blast Golf’s Stroke Analyzer. A lightweight sensor pushed into the end of the putter grip captures stroke data which is sent to your mobile device so you can see the timing, tempo and face rotation. Trends are tracked to show the parts of your stroke needing improvement and the Analyzer ($120) even will share stats via Facebook, Twitter and email.
You may need an artificial putting green and we like the Big Moss product line with sizes and options to fit the requirements of most any room. Their Competitor model ($173) has a Stimpmeter rating of 11 and sets up quickly. It comes with 2”, 3” and regulation size cups which fit in the upper end of the 3’ by 9’ surface. The package contains a Velcro attaching backstop, two limited flight balls for chipping and a chipping mat. To simulate the breaks of a real green they even include a “Break Snake.”
Learning to putt and for shots around the green can be accomplished with specific training aids and for putting there’s the True Pendulum Motion Trainer ($90) to promote the big muscle stroke used by great putters. The Trainer consists of two adjustable length aluminum rods which connect to the putter shaft a few inches above the putter head. Placing the rods between the forearms and chest ensures a proper stroke and builds the most important factor in putting…confidence.
Short game guru Stan Utley worked with the people at Orange Whip to develop the Orange Whip Wedge for training from full shots to chips around the green. The flexible counterweighted shaft has a wedge clubhead and forces you to swing in sequence, in rhythm, in balance without that most destructive of all mistakes—flipping the wrists. The Orange Whip Wedge ($120) also helps you find the proper feel for those delicate touch shots around the green.
Finally, and focusing on fitness, it’s axiomatic the better shape we are in the better we can play. We won’t become as tired, we’ll concentrate better, hit the ball further with more accuracy and always get the girl…well, three out of four isn’t bad.
Starting with being more limber, there’s a training aid with a strange name that’s a good place to start. The Most Important Stretch in Golf or MISIG consists of a rod with a golf grip on one end for your lead hand, a slide you hold with the trail hand and a cord attaching the trail hand slide to a cuff worn on the lead arm bicep. Just a few minutes with the MISIG ($63) improves the stretch and range of motion so you can make a bigger back swing without strain.
We also like the Smart Body Golf Performance Pack ($200) which combines several exercises using air-filled discs to improve rotational balance and strength, special elastic tubing to synchronize the upper body and core for better control and the familiar weighted and slotted ball to build clubhead speed. A real advantage of the Performance Pack is the large number of exercises that can be done using the three components together or singly.
Trainer Joey D offers a package made up of a complete home fitness system and 16 weeks of personalized coaching for $400. The first six weeks concentrate on biomechanics and the last 10 weeks on personal instruction via Skype with a specific weekly golf fitness schedule for your individual needs. Included are a DVD putting you through full length workouts, resistance bands for the upper and lower body and other equipment to help you get and stay in golfing shape.
And if exercise machines are your thing the Genesis Dual-Cable Cross F624 from FreeMotion does it all. Pulleys on the ends of the independently rotating arms swivel and the handles move giving an almost unlimited number of exercises in one machine. The Genesis ($5,495) is constructed for hard use from heavy gauge steel and the weight stacks are enclosed for safety.