Watching Henrik Stenson play golf makes me think of Tinkerbell. This seems weird, considering that Henrik Stenson once stopped a charging rhino with a stern look and hits the golf ball like he caught it stealing his chickens, but if you’re a regular reader of these pages you know that I may have a point. If you’re not, please indulge me in a little free association I promise that it will all come together in the end.
This is crazy, but the newest addition to my workplace is the Monster Cage made by Rukket Sports. Yes, a giant golf ball hitting cage. My back is really bummed about it.
Depressing workplace not included
When reviewing a product like the Rukket Monster Cage, I figure there are two items to address: 1) how is it as a cage – design, build, durability, etc.?, and 2) why the hell would anyone want/benefit from a giant pill-smashing cage and exactly who are these people? Let’s go in order:
The Rukket Monster Cage is a full-scale, heavy duty, industrial strength hitting cage. I know we’ve all seen the different backyard driving nets, the portable ones, the ones that look like half-shells (Rukket even makes a version of this model) . . . this is not one of those nets. This is essentially what your local golf store has for its hitting bay, minus the $100k simulator. When I hear about Steve Stricker hammering balls inside a cabin in the Great White North, I picture a cage like this. It would have to be a big cabin, mind you, because the Rukket Monster Cage goes 10′ x 10′ x 10′.
The Monster Cage arrives at your door in two medium/large boxes – one heavy, one moderate. Inside the heavy box you will find a pile of small push button metal poles, industrial versions of what goes into the pop-up canopy you used for your niece’s graduation party. In the lighter box, you’ll see a big wad of folded up, heavy duty netting. And somewhere in all of that you will find the following letter:
Cool enough, it’s nice to know that the company selling you a product actually cares to throw that in. What they don’t include, however, is an instruction manual on how to put this sucker together. Never one to shy away from looking like an idiot, I tweeted Rukket Sports and asked if perhaps I was missing something – indeed I was – there is no manual, but a video on their website that demonstrates the assembly process:
The video is straightforward and well done, and the assembly itself really is relatively easy given the magnitude of the beast you are creating. The push button poles work like a charm, and the net itself uses little wooden knobs and Velcro straps that are very intuitive and create zero net/Christmas lights/ball-of-mess frustration.
The video says assembly is a two-person job and should take about 20 minutes. Like a typical meathead, I went with a one-person approach and probably took about 45 minutes, having to call in reinforcements for the final stages of barnraising. There was one initial mistake I made regarding where the “front” of the cage was, something I wish the video had made sure to clarify, but all in all the assembly was super straightforward and caused very few spikes in blood pressure. For your reference, I once threw a motorized baby swing off my back porch mid-construction, so my smooth session with the Monster Cage is a testament to its quality design.
The construction of the Monster Cage is all about sturdiness and durability, for both indoor and outdoor use. The frame itself is made from 3 part steel tube construction with nickel-plated fasteners, powder-coating for weather resistance, and a little PVC and canvas thrown in to help drive home the message that this bugger can handle some adverse conditions. I detect no weaknesses in the cage – there isn’t one piece that I’m looking at and saying “that thing’s gonna croak by next Spring”. And for such a gangly piece of equipment, there is very little play if you were to go up and push on one of the posts . . . the cage might lean an inch or two, but that would be impossible to avoid without introducing some serious bolts and such into the assembly process.
This one is easy – it’s a giant cage with a net that I can rip balls into with absolutely zero fear of something going awry. No shank, skull, or block can thwart the Monster Cage. As you can see in the pictures, the entire cage is made up of netting, and then you have a heavy duty “inside net” from the top to handle the serious business. The inside net is substantial and has no problem absorbing my Dalyesque drives. And, heaven forbid I honk one straight left, the ball is safely eaten up by the outside net.
When rigging the inside net up you have two choices: 1) ball return configuration, which means the top of the net is hitched further towards the front of the cage, and 2) standard hang, allowing for more space between the golfer and the net. I’ve tried both, and switching between the two is easy (only takes 5 minutes but requires a step ladder), but I’ve always defaulted to the ball return setting because it helps me maintain my pace of 34 swings per minute. I can see where the standard setting would be valuable for the more claustrophobic among us, though, and you also have just a bit more room to see where your ball is headed.
The bottom line on performance – I haven’t thought about this net since the minute I finished putting it together. It is clearly capable of handling Vijay Singh levels of punishment, and there has never been even one glitch in the program that made me wonder if I should take out a general liability policy or tell my buddies to put a helmet on. Ball hits net, ball drops down, meathead hits ball.
YEAH BUT . . . WHY?
It’s long been thought that hitting cages/nets are inferior to actually hitting balls into the open air. On a general level, of course that’s true. But when it comes to practice, I have come to realize that the net is an incredibly valuable tool, and probably my best tool. Here’s why:
1) I love hitting balls on the range. I love it so much that I have been known to wander into the range itself at friendly (and empty) courses and hit every frigging ball in sight until it gets dark. I am in the double digits with that activity alone. But on most occasions, I am limited to one or two buckets with which to do my thing. This places a subtle premium on each swing – I only have 35 balls to hit, and as much as I want to work on what that pro told me two weeks ago, I can’t leave this joint with 35 shanks under my belt. So, after 20 mushballs that felt like ayzz, I start to revert back to my normal flawed swing that at least makes solid contact.
Ego also plays a role in this. At some point I need that girl next to me to know that I am not the world’s biggest mark, getting taken for over $1,000 in equipment while wielding a Spaulding stroke . . . maybe they should issue a special hat to anyone that has taken a lesson in the last few weeks, kind of like a “Student Driver” sign for your head.
But ultimately, as a middle-aged dude with not enough time to play 18, I go to the range to “hit some balls!”. Hitting balls is fun, and trying to implement changes to your swing will sometimes interfere with that fun. With the Rukket Monster Cage, I quickly realized that I was in the perfect swing-practice environment. Say you’re trying something that feels SO goofy, like most lessons will have you doing . . . no worries in the cage. Just keep trying it. Your supply of balls is infinite, nobody’s watching, and you can work on it to your heart’s delight.
It’s a perfect setting for experimentation, which I have found to be extremely helpful in applying what I learned at a recent lesson. As you know, most golf instructors are going to look at your swing and see the same flaws, but then explain how to fix them to you in 1,000 different ways. They are all teaching the same basic swing, it’s just a matter of which concept your brain can digest and apply. Is it “turn back like you’re shaking hands” or “turn and face the wall behind you”, or is it “clear the hips” or “bump the lower body”. With the cage, you have the time and resources to work these things through and arrive at the swing thoughts/moves that work for you. In other words, you can “waste” as many shots as you’d like in the name of experimentation.
2) To a reasonable degree, you DO know where the ball is going. I know that’s a famous argument against hitting into a net, and I know there is such a thing as smashing a drive all nice-like and then looking up only to see it going banana on you. But for the most part, you can tell when you hit one correctly, swing correctly, push/pull, etc., especially because you already know what your bad tendencies are. Sprinkle a little “where did it hit the net” over that knowledge, and you’ve got about 85% of the data you need (highly scientific calculation). And yes, every week or so, hit the range and make sure it all translates to the real world. Put it this way – I’ve had the Monster Cage for a little over two months now, and each time I’ve hit the range or played 18, it all translated.
If you love the game and have a large garage, a backyard that can handle the look of an athletic cage, or a depressing warehouse space like me, the Rukket Monster Cage is only a good thing. A great thing, actually. The price tag is $600, so it’s not cheap, but like most things in golf it is well worth it when amortized over the amount of use you will get out of the Monster Cage. In fact, my experience has been so positive that I would call the cost a no-brainer . . . my practice time in the Monster Cage has been more efficient and productive than any range sessions I have ever had. And I don’t even have a launch monitor yet, so this could get even better.
The Monster Cage can be used for other sports too (baseball, lacrosse, soccer, whatever you want to hammer into a net), so if you have kids that can get some use out of it then the purchase is even more justifiable.
-As I mentioned up top, my back briefly paid the price for my newfound practice glory. After absolutely spazzing out for the first two weeks, I realized that a more disciplined approach to warming up and practicing was imperative. In fact, I need to give some credit to the Pros who rap balls every day, the mileage on the back adds up quick (*pouring one for my PGA homies*).
-Plan on spending a couple hundge on a good mat. Cheap ones do a poor job of mimicking real turf conditions, and more importantly, they don’t have enough shock absorption built in and will eventually do a number on your body as you continually slam that club down.
-Two items I would note regarding the assembly video: 1) when starting out, make sure to check the logo on the top front pole and confirm that it is facing out, this will ensure that you have everything headed in the right direction (I didn’t at first). 2) The owner suggests putting the whole unit together at half-height so that you can rig the net without using a stepladder. Makes sense in theory, but in hindsight I would much rather have constructed the whole thing first and then used a stepladder at the end to hang the net. Trying to add the final poles once the cage was built to half-height proved to be more trouble than hanging the net at 10′ would have been.
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Check out all of the Rukket Sports products at www.rukket.com.
About five years ago I got a free pass for a GolfTec lesson which included getting hooked up to about 8 electrodes while being stared at by a wide-eyed kid (Note: that is NOT me in the picture). The idea is to provide you with a complete swing analysis then show you how to get it to look like a PGA Pro that you resemble (go figure that out . . .). Now, I am personally not a fan of GolfTec, but I was blown away by the graphics and tools that it provides. For the first time I could really see what my swing looked like. I could see my takeaway path and how the club was aligned at impact. The fact that they wanted to turn my swing into Ernie Els is another story.
Since that time, I have wished that there was an easier (and less expensive way) to get similar swing diagnosis. Fortunately, there is now a way, and it is called Swingbyte. This little contraption easily snaps onto any club and is then linked up to your phone or iPad via Bluetooth.
So while Swingbyte does not give you every data metric available, it does provide you with enough to better understand and work on your swing. For me, that primarily means swing path. Like a lot of amateurs, I struggle with an over the top swing. With the Swingbyte, I can get instant feedback on my swing path. Even better is that I don’t even have to hit a ball. That’s right, I can make swings on a mat or ground and get the same results.
Now, rather than heading out to the range, I can just step outside, lay my phone down next to me and take swings to hone my preferred swing path. Really, that is the key, being able to make a swing (or swing adjustment) and see what it really means.
Additionally, if you want to hit real balls or 1/2 distance balls into a net, you are able to get accurate data on club speed, face address, face path and club path. Basically everything you get when you hit ball in a simulator.
As I mentioned the Swingbyte attaches to the top of your golf club right below the grip. The clasp is easy to put on and take off, so switching between clubs is not an issue. While every so often the clasp comes off, for the most part you don’t have to mess with it.
In order to connect your device, you just have to get the Swingbyte app and then connect to it by choosing Bluetooth in your settings. This will work on both a phone and iPad. The phone is fine, but checking the graphics is far easier to see on a larger iPad. That way, you can just lay the iPad on the ground and glance down at it after every swing. Performance wise, the Bluetooth works pretty well. Some days it gives me a bit of trouble and I have to recalibrate it or restart it, but for the most part it stays connected.
If you want to further investigate a swing, you are able to choose from a number of vantages like overhead, behind and 360 degrees. I find the down the line view works the best. Additionally, the color of the path lines will indicate club speed at any given point so you can work toward having the most power at impact.
The other features I like to use is the history and “compare swings”. Each and every swing you make is logged into the system so you can view them on the web. This helps you to see progress in metrics like swing speed. You can then compare swings from different times so you can determine if the changes you are trying to make are actually sticking.
Another available function is the side by side video and swing analysis. Using your phone or iPad, you can video your swing and then watch it with the swing tracer to check your technique at any point. While this feature seems very useful, I never used it because I feel like I get the required feedback and swing information with just the lines drawn by the swing tracer. However, I could definitely see this being useful for a coach to use to help with teaching a student.
And don’t forget your putter. Swingbyte can also help with the flat stick. For the putter analysis, everything is the same but on a smaller scale. This way you can really see what type of putter you are (pendulum or arc). Plus, you can see if you are making square impact or if you have an open or closed putter face.
Swing training aides are a tricky business. I would bet most end up collecting dust after the new car smell has worn off. This is partly true with Swingbyte as I don’t want to take it out to the range every time. The good news for Swingbyte is that it is nearly as useful at home since you do not need to hit actual golf balls to get in some training time and analysis. In fact, I have taken 70% of my Swingbyte swings at home either with practice swings or golf balls into a net.
The final bit of good news is that Swingbyte is darn cheap for what you get. Similar aides like Trackman (albeit a lot more powerful) are thousands of dollars. Swingbyte is $169, giving you a lot of bang for the buck.
Golf is obviously a hard game and improving requires that you a least have a decent idea what you do and what your are trying to do. Without understanding your swing, you are kind of chasing ghosts. Swingbyte is a great tool to give you real data on how you swing the club. It will also allow you to experiment with your swing to see how the swing plane and club impact is affected in nearly real time. For me, it was a huge help in grooving a take away that got my club in a better position to fire down the line. Now, it is just a matter of coming back to it every so often to make sure I am still on track.
You can learn more on the Swingbyte website.
As a certified technology junkie (okay, that’s more of a self proclamation than an actual fact), I was thrilled when I learned I would be the one to review the ES12 portable launch monitor from Ernest Sports. Unlike some of my fellow bloggers, I am unafraid to utilize a bit of gadgetry to improve my golf swing. To be fair, the ES12 is far from gadgetry as it provides golfers with robust swing feedback at a fraction of the cost of its industrial counterparts.
Money aside, who would not want to own a personal launch monitor? Anyone who has ever stepped into a hitting bay at golf retailer knows the satisfaction that comes from smashing balls and then seeing the accompanying flight path, ball speed, distance and array of other stats that appear before us as the ball comes to rest on the virtual fairway.
The other reason I volunteered to review the ES12 was because I actually have a semi-legitimate home practice area (otherwise known as my garage). Hitting into a practice net nearly every night has its advantages, like developing a consistent posture, maintaining a good balance and working on things like tempo and timing. What it seriously lacks, though, is a visible ball flight. Unless you’re good enough to tell exactly how well you hit a shot simply from feel, the obvious shortfall of a practice net is that you really get very little actual feedback or data on a given shot. And while the ES12 may not be as advanced as some of the big boys in the category, this little blue box packs a serious punch and pound for pound might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Armed with some outstanding technology, the ES12 can supply you with high-quality statistical information and then in the blink of an eye send all that info to your tablet or phone via a Bluetooth connection (I’m currently using it on both my iPad and iPhone) for you to assess.
Using the information you provide (which is basically the club you’re using for the swing) the ES12 records the ball speed and then determines based on the loft of the club how far the ball would have traveled, and let me tell you, it is VERY accurate.
The ES12 showed up at the perfect time as I was preparing to leave for Florida on a partial work and partial play vacation. I had just received a new set of Pings for us to review and didn’t have any time to get to the course to play with them (or the range), so I took advantage of the ES12 in my garage and learned a ton about the new clubs before ever stepping onto a real course.
With the ES12 and my home setup I was able to assess just how much of a yardage difference I was going to be experiencing going from my previous set to the newer more forgiving Pings. The loft difference from my old set to the new clubs was pretty dramatic – I witnessed my 7 iron distance go from a pretty standard 160 yards to right around 150. Thanks to the few sessions with ES12 before my trip, I wasn’t in complete denial when I first took the new clubs to the course and saw with my own eyes just how different the ball flight and distances were.
The ES12 device is incredibly simple. Just a few buttons to make choices from and that’s really it. You can scroll through the club selection, which is honestly the only thing you’ll be doing with it after you set it up initially, or change some of the settings like metric or standard and the elevation of where you’re practicing. The ES12 comes very well protected by a durable shell and a coating that seems rigged enough to take on the occasional shank, but that’s an area I wasn’t willing to test out, intentionally. Figures I’d be the one to leave no stone unturned in my review process, and sure enough, I took a shiny new ball, shanked a good one and pelted the hell out of it. Like a heavyweight champ though the ES12 took the punishment with style and grace and never missed a beat. I highly recommend you do not try this yourself but it was good to know that if you happen to slip up it’s not the end of the world.
The app that Ernest Sports has developed is pretty much flawless. The main menu is very simple: start a new session or review and old one. That’s it. Within seconds (after pairing the device of course), you’re swinging away tracking your shots. You’ll also find on the ES12 home page a Weather feature, Video Analysis, Course Caddy, Notes page, and the Skills Challenge to go along with the normal settings and Tutorial pages.
Durability and ease of use aside, the statistics provided by the ES12 are what truly make this a great training tool and not just an entertaining way to enjoy your session.
Here is how a typical range session goes for me. I of course warm up and after I’m nice and loose I’ll set up the ES12 and start with my 7i. At home anything more lofted than a 7 iron and I’m just asking to do some ceiling repairs in the garage, so I tend to stay away from the bottom end of my set.
I’ll set up my iPad so it’s directly in front of me when I’m in the address position and then I just swing away. Instantly, and I mean instantly, the information is displayed on my tablet and a verbal announcement of the swing is played. You can then view the information and also select the shape of the shot if you are by chance out on a real range and not hitting into a practice net like I do most of the time.
Because the ES12 uses a Bluetooth to connect to your tablet or phone, you can also connect to an earpiece if you prefer (or a standard set of headphones as well). This is a great feature if you’re at a crowded range and can’t hear the ES12, or if you just don’t want the other patrons of the range to hear how far you’re crushing the ball.
After a good 10-15 swings with one club I’ll switch to another and go through my set all the way down to my driver. The main stat that the ES12 tracks is ball speed and based on those numbers it really easy to see how well you’re striking the ball. With the instant feedback it’s easy to see that the previous swing carried a ball speed of say 120mph but the last swing was only 110mph. Nothing like confirmation of an off-the-toe strike by seeing the intense change in ball speed right after it happens. What I found so incredible was just how dramatic of a drop in ball speed there was from a pure strike to a miss-hit. I mean we all know it’s not going to go as far but to see the numbers was quite revealing.
The ES12 app can take all the information from the session and give you several different ways of viewing the data. You can look at your numbers based on just one club, like the 6 iron for example, or you can take a look at the entire session and see how your numbers compared as you went from one club to the next.
The single club view is outstanding. It will take your average swing speed and distance and give you the optimal distance you can expect to carry the ball and also the shape of the shot. Like I mentioned earlier, the shape of the shot; left, straight or right, can be inputted manually.
Another great resource the app provides is a breakdown of your averages so you can see not only what your averaging with each club but it also has an option where you can see the distance gaps you have between clubs like I have pictured here.
For me taking on the task of learning a new set of irons that had a dramatic difference in ball flight and carry, there was one feature that particularly helped me as I trekked through Southern Florida a bit lost on the course, and that was the “Course Caddy” option.
Just type in your distance and based on all your sessions the ES12 will make a suggestion for you.
It’s not always best to get hack happy and spend a ton of time with one stick while you swing away at the range. I like to mix it up and unless I’m working on something particular like a hybrid or a fairway wood I like to change my clubs fairly often. Another outstanding feature (I know it’s getting redundant but hang in there) that is in the ES12 app is what they call the “Skills Challenge”.
Here the ES12 will give you a list of distance and your goal is to get as close to those distances as possible. The closer you are the more points you get. Three attempts per distance and the distance go up in increments or you can select a random grouping. It is an utterly fantastic way to spend some time honing in on your club distances.
When I received the ES12 I was expecting a lot and it has more than met my expectations. I thought I’d have some fun seeing how far I’m hitting the ball and maybe have a contest or two with some buddies to see how far we can hit it, but in reality I never thought that I would enjoy using the ES12 as much as I have. I look forward to my range sessions at home more than I ever have and during the last round I played I was so much better at hitting the shots I needed to because I was confident in my ability to get the ball there. That alone right there has me loving the ES12 and I couldn’t be happier with how it has improved my game in just the short time I’ve had it.
You can read more about the ES12 on the Ernest Sports website where you can also purchase it directly. The ES12 sells for $249.99 and comes with free shipping.
So you have 14 clubs in your bag, but how many do you have scattered around your house and yard? That, my friends is the true measure of your obsession. In my case, I have an old TaylorMade Burner 3 wood just outside my garage door, an old Wilson 9 iron that resides around back, two wedges on the porch, a training club in my office and a shorted club in my bedroom (low ceilings). Yes, I need serious help, but I find taking a few practice swings throughout the day helps to clear my head.
ProAdvanced chipping net, therefore, has become a nice addition to my collection of training tools. Typically, I chip from a small mat in my driveway onto the front or back yard. Besides the wasted time I spend walking around looking for the balls that have nestled down into the grass, I inevitably end up losing more than my fair share of eggs. Clearly, I need a net.
First off, the ProAdvanced Net is extremely simple to set up. It works on the same principal that a car sun visor uses. Simply take it out of the bag, shake it out and its ready to go. So easy, I would be insulting your intelligence if I made a “how to video”, which is why I chose not to (it had nothing to do with the fact I hate making videos).
The ProAdvanced Net has a few specific features that set it apart from most of the other cheapo versions. First, it has a ball return system that makes it super easy to chip, chip and chip some more without ever having to wander your front yard. Secondly, you can add targets which is a nice way to practice specific shots. This way you can work on higher flop shots and bump and run shots. So while you cannot practice distance control you can practice getting the ball started on the right flight.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the ProAdvanced Net and other practice nets is its slim design. I have had practice nets in the past and for the first few weeks they are great, but then I get tired of setting up the monster for a few swings and it ends up never being used. The ProAdvanced net on the other hand, is so easy to set up and take down I ended up using it way more than I thought I would.
For those of you who are a bit more adventurous (and have a better short game than mine), you can take the net inside and use it in any room with sufficient head space. Of course this does require that you are either a) single or b) are married to someone who is more open-minded than my wife.
In terms of construction, the ProAdvanced net not only is well designed to minimize the stress it takes but also is reinforced at all of the points of tension. The large grommet holes allow for you to easily take the target piece on or off as well as secure the net with included stakes.
You will note that the front net is only secured at the top which allows it to better absorb the impact from the golf ball. While I have hit full swings into the net, I would not recommend it as it is frankly too thin to risk shanking a ball into the neighbor’s car.
As an added touch, the kind folks at ProAdvanced have included instructions that are sewn into the case, which is nice if you are like me and never bother to open the manual. This way you will always have a reminder of how to use the net. Luckily, it is basically dummy proof and requires no advance degrees.
ProAdvanced offers this and other nets on their website.
Training aids over the past several years have become increasingly interesting to say the least. Thanks most in part to this little thing called technology. Being the gadget guru that I am, or more realistically – a technology junkie, I was thrilled when I found out that I was going to be the lucky one who got to review the two training aids from 3Bays; the GSA Pro and the GSA Putt.
As much as I would like to go to one of the few places in town that has a legit launch monitor, the truth is that those facilities are intended for club-fittings, not for the guy who is looking for some helpful information. I could literally spend hours inside a fitting stall, hitting ball after ball, reviewing my stats. But no one will let me!
With the GSA Pro from 3Bays you’ll no longer need to “pretend” that you’re interested in a new club at the golf store just to get some time on a launch monitor, they’ve taken technology and gadgetry to a new level. And in doing so, they’ve brought the fitting stall to you.
The GSA Pro is a small lightweight device (weighing only 9.8g) that easily fits into the end of your club and records the data from your swing.
Using an advanced 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope sensors the GSA Pro digitizes your swing motion, creating 10,000 data points, which may vary depending on clubhead speed. Within the tiny capsule the information gathered is then sent via Bluetooth to your smart phone or tablet (iOS or Android) and the results of the swings are displayed brilliantly on your device.
The amount of information that is recorded is outstanding, here’s a rundown.
Consistency, Club Head Speed, Tempo (up:down), Impact Force, Backswing Time, Ball Speed, Downswing Time, Carry Distance, Face Angle and Swing Path.
Along with all of the information above you also get an animated view of the path the club head traveled. Making that feature even more usable is the ability to switch from a face on view to a down the line view. The slider feature for the animation playback is very handy; you can slow the swing down, back it up or stop it at any point.
Pairing the phone to your device is a breeze and takes just a few minutes. Once the unit is paired and you’re ready to take a swing, that’s all you have to do, take a swing. The GSA Pro takes Care of everything else and in less than 5 seconds the information is ready for review on your device.
What makes the GSA Pro an even more effective training aid is the “Best Swing” feature. You can select any one of the swings you have made and label it “Best Swing”. GSA Pro then compares all the other swings you have made to your best swings and gives you a consistency percentage. The comparison is shown in two contrasting color paths in the animation which makes the analysis very simple.
The GSA Pro also allows the tracking of different clubs. You can switch from your driver to an iron or a wedge and the GSA Pro will keep all the stats for each individual club you choose. That makes the review of a specific club or your progress with that club very simple. The information is stored by the date of the swings, and going to any specific swing on any certain day is easily done.
Like most training tools there is a reason why you use it, and what I have determined over the past couple of weeks while testing the GSA Pro is that it’s all about consistency and who doesn’t want a more consistent swing, right?
A new feature that 3Bays recently added with their latest update was the ability to record live video. Big deal, right . . . well actually it is! What makes their version so unique is how they have paired the video with the swing data. Just set up your device to record like you would any other video recording app, select the auto record button and begin your session. After you’re finished you can go back and look at anyone of the swings just like you normally would but now there is a play button as well. Tap the button and the player opens up where you can view the video of that swing. Not having to fast forward through multiple swings to get to a specific one is brilliant.
This upgrade was a suprise and I’m glad they have included it. With all the information the GSA Pro provides now having the ability to record video and see the data is remarkable.
I can’t say that I’d recommend this device for someone just picking up the game, there is a ton of information and it might be an overload for someone not familiar with the golf swing. But, for someone like myself who just reached a 15hdcp, I love how I can review each swing, see where those swings compare to my best swing I have saved and build on developing a more consistent stroke.
Obviously, the full swing is just one part of the golf game which is why the sister product, GSA Putt, is the logical extension to GSA Pro. Utilizing the same technology and interface, GSA Putt, gives players all of the critical data to understand and improve their putting stroke. To me, this really sets 3 Bays apart from the competitors as it allows them to offer a comprehensive analysis package.
Just like the GSA Pro the GSA Putt fits tightly into the butt end of your putter and is virtually invisible, in fact everything about the GSA Putt is a carbon copy. The difference is the information it provides. Here’s what you’ll get
Consistency, Tempo, Face Angle, Attack Angle, Downswing, Backswing, Impact Speed and a very useful chart that displays the swing path distance on the back swing and the follow through – now that’s a ton of information for a putt.
The GSA Putt also has the same animation that you’ll find on the GSA Pro. With the GSA Putt the animation includes a face on view that shows your attack angle and a view from the top looking down at the putter. Both viewpoints show the current club path and if saved you can view your best swing at the same time.
I spent two night hitting putts on my home putting green using the GSA Putt. I recorded over 200 swings and after those two sessions my consistency percentage is at 92%. That’s miles better than where I started . . . after day one I was in the lower 70% range. Not a very good number. The next day I looked over all the putts from the previous session and determined that my tempo and my face angle at impact were my main problem areas.
That information led to an excellent session on day two and by the end of the night I was hitting putts consistently in the 95% range.
A few days later I played a round and my putting that day was by far the best aspect of my game. Thirty putts for the round and everything was on target. I knew that the time I put in developing a consistent swing had paid off and I have the GSA Putt to thank.
Being able to see that my face angle was the most inconsistent facet of my stroke was an eye opener and really got me focused on fixing the problem.
Consistency is the word of the day when it comes to 3Bays and their GSA Pro and GSA Putt. A good swing is great thing but a consistent great swing is a game changer.
The GSA Pro and GSA Putt retail for $199 each and can be purchased from their site. The apps are a free download and can be found in the Apple App Store and the Android Market.
Putting is a facet of the game that is too often neglected by amateurs. Yes it’s true, practicing five foot putts is not as stimulating as hammering the driver, but if you really want to takes some strokes off your scores the best thing you can do is become a better putter.
Even though I would like to believe that I practice putting as much as the other parts of my game, it just isn’t true. That’s about to change thanks to the Little Murph from Truline Greens.
Truline Greens offers indoor/outdoor putting greens that finally bring realistic putting to the home. A quick setup, superb functionality and the ability to now practice inside makes this a perfect training aide.
The Truline Big Murph and Little Murph are Made in the USA, come in two standard sizes and are offered in two different green speeds. Specifically, the sizes are:
• Big Murph: 12’ long x 5’6” wide
• Little Murph: 10’ long x 4’ wide
Speed wise, you can get amateur speed (10 on the Stimpmeter) or TourSpeed (12 on the Stimpmeter).
Moreover, Truline can customize the size and even add your logo.
There were two things that impressed me right out the gate. First was the fact that from the time it took me to open the box to actually putting was about 20 seconds. I thought for sure that after being packaged and rolled up in the box that there was going to be some break-in time needed. Not the case at all, from the time it took me to unroll it, flip it, grab my putter and step on the green to putt it was good to go.
What else impressed me was the quality; the craftsmanship of the Little Murph is outstanding. This isn’t one of those $29.95 putting strips you’ll find at Target or In Flight Magazine. You know the ones I’m talking about, the 1’ wide 6’ long pieces of fabric that has the cheesy ball return. Nope, Truline has developed a world class putting green that I bet even the greenskeepers at Augusta would awe over.
The Little Murph dimensions are perfect for my situation and anyone with a hallway or medium-sized room. Not everyone has an area of the house where they can set up a permanent “indoor” putting green. The ability to quickly roll up the Little Murph, place it back in the box and store it in a hall closet makes it perfect for a quick putting session.
Without a doubt the best feature of the Truline putting greens are the greens themselves. I’ve putted on quite a few synthetic surfaces in my time and the Truline is hands down the best I have ever used. The ball rolls absolutely flawlessly. How real you ask? Real enough for you to channel your inner Camillio.
You will notice that the last 3.5’ of the Little Murph has a small incline, provided by a foam backing, which allows the ball to “drop” into the cup. The cup itself is set back 17” from the back edge allowing you to go at the cup aggressively to practice getting the ball to the hole. A backstop is provided in the event you get a little too pumped up and really let one go. There’s no need to worry about wear either, the turf handles the traffic walking to and from the cup to retrieve your balls without any adversity, even the foam backed area near the cup.
Truline also includes two rubber tubes, each in a different diameter which you can use to add break to your putts (yup, you can add break!). They also include some distance markers so you can measure out a 5’ putt, mark it and always know you’re hitting from five feet. The straight putt on the Truline alone makes it completely worth the investment, but the added feature to be able to create different breaks for your practice sessions and mark off a specific distance has been an added bonus.
I use the word investment for a reason. The Big Murph and Little Murph retail for $429 and $329 for the Tour speed versions, $409 and $309 for the amateur versions. That’s a lot of cash to be dishing out on just one area of your game improvement. On the other hand, if you struggle with the flat stick and you’re committed to improving I can highly recommend a Truline Green. After only using the Little Murph for only 7 days, I went out and recorded just 14 putts over 9 holes. I can’t say that was entirely due to the Little Murph but I know practicing those pesky six footers at home made them a lot less nervewracking on the course.
Since that time, I have continued to really enjoy practicing with the Truline Green and have seen my putting confidence and accuracy improve each week.
You can view the full product line on the Truline Greens Web site
Rukk Net Review: I love spending time at the practice range working on my game. For me it’s a real easy way to relax and unwind myself from rigors of everyday life. The only problem is that it takes me about 25 minutes to get to the nearest driving range. Being a little golf obsessed, I have utilized a golf mat in my garage to practice my swing, balance and tempo with, but I have never been able to hit a ball during those sessions. So you can guess who was first to raise their hand to review the Rukk Net from Rukket.
While Rukket’s claim that the Rukk Net is simple and fast to set up and take down, generous in size, durable, light-weight, versatile and affordable was appealing, what I really cared about was ability to strike a ball full swing in the garage and not have to work about some patch work to my walls!
All of their claims are spot on, the net it SUPER easy to set up (see video at the end of this post). Once you remove it from the carrying case it practically sets itself up. A little tap here and little pull there and in a matter of seconds, yes seconds, you have a very functional net that you can punish over and over again with driver swing after driver swing. You read that correctly. A full driver swing gets absorbed like that strangely colored “substance” you see in a Brawny paper towel commercial.
Most people I know would be happy with that outcome. Rukket didn’t stop there. They not only designed the Rukk Net to take the impact abuse from ball after ball but they added a ball return feature that kicks the ball back to you just like a dog fetched it and dropped it at your feet. That saves you more time than you would think. You don’t have to go digging through a clumpy mess of netting material to retrieve any of the balls you just hit. Nope, it just takes one ball and you can use it over and over.
I’ve been using the Rukk Net for over three weeks now (thanks to a weekend rumble with my garage clutter. Yes, I won!) and it looks as good as it did the first day I used it. The construction is outstanding and the design is flawless. The Rukk Net comes with a bag of stakes so you can secure to the net to the ground if needed, but in my opinion that would only be necessary if it’s really windy outside because the thing just doesn’t move. I have it set up in my garage, on concrete and I can hit 100 shots into the net and it will not have moved an inch from where I set it up.
Taking the Rukk Net down, although not as easy as setup, is also a quick process. It does take a little getting used to and once I got the hang of it I can now get it down and packed up rather quick. The Rukk Net folds up and stores away into a handy carry bag and when all zipped up the complete net assembly, with the bag, weighs in at an impressive 14lbs. Not too shabby.
I used to struggle to find time in my busy schedule to get a way for a few hours and get in some practice time. Since the Rukk Net arrived at my doorstep I’ve practice more in the last three weeks than in the last 4 months. I still plan on heading out to the range from time to time. There are certainly some benefits to an outdoor range, ball flight and distance for example. The convenience of having the Rukk Net just on the other side of my garage door though sure makes it easy to get in a quick 20-30 minutes session and not feel guilty about being away from my kids.
Golf is just one of the many sports you can use the Rukk Net for. Visit their website and you can see how it can also be used for sports like baseball and soccer.
The Golf Swing Shirt Review: Swing trainers are a tricky business, no doubt. Caddy Shack, Tin Cup and other golf movies have well-documented the lengths people will go to find a swing worthy of Augusta National. Unfortunately, it is just not that simple. Nope, no one device can magically give you all the answers. However, there are some training aides that can help give you a ‘feel’ for a more sound technique.
One such aide I recently discovered is the Golf Swing Shirt. After spending a few weeks and multiple practice sessions with the Swing Shirt, I can honestly recommend it to anyone. Coincentally, the the Golf Swing Shirt has been well recieved by one of my golf heroes, Jimmy Ballard. In a recent interview I had with Jimmy, we discussed the Golf Swing Shirt and he reiterated his support for the product.
If you know anything about Jimmy Ballard, you know his main teaching philosophy is “Connection”, and the one thing the Swing Shirt does very well is promote a connected swing. This is particularly important since staying connected is one of the most critical elements to a consistant and powerful golf swing.
If you look at their website you will find that the Golf Swing Shirt philosophy is partially derived from Hogan’s book and his “Five Lessons”; specifically, as it relates to the importance of connection of the arms to the upper body. This was something Hogan learned from Sam Byrd who was Jimmy Ballard’s teacher. What the Swing Shirt does is give you the feel of the triangle that Hogan and Ballard describe where your arms form a triangle with your chest that you move to the right, and then move to the left, using the ground and your legs as leverage to move the triangle.
The Swing Shirt is made out of a moderate-weight stretchy fabric, and it looks like a basketball jersey, with an extra ‘trunk’ on the front that you put both arms through. This ‘trunk’ or extra sleeve on the front of the shirt keeps your arms on top of your chest, and connected to your chest during the swing, so that you can feel the sense of using your chest to support and move your arms back and forth, rather than just using your hands and arms to flip the club around your body. After you’ve hit some balls with your arms in the sleeve, you can move your arms to the ‘normal’ arm holes, and then hit some balls while keeping the shirt on to see if you can repeat the feeling.
The result is that you are able to use your big muscles of your legs and core to move the golf club, rather than just flipping at the ball with your hands, or getting into the dreaded ‘chicken wing’ of the left arm, and the ball flight is much more consistent, and much straighter.
A couple of quick ideas that I think will help anyone use the Golf Swing Shirt:
-Get the correct size. Sizing is on their website and is based on height/weight. It needs to fit to work correctly.
-Good posture, including standing as upright at address as possible is the only way to have connection keep the club on plane, and not go ‘around’ your body.
-The shirt is good at keeping your arms on top of your chest, and together through the swing, but you shouldn’t ‘tuck’ your right elbow at address, or setup with the right shoulder lower than the left. Hogan had a balanced, upright address, where his shoulders were fairly level, and his right elbow pointed loosely at his right hip socket. During the takeaway, the right arm is higher than the left, if being viewed face on, or in a mirror; and it needs to stay that way, as the triangle moves to waist high on the backswing. From waist high, the right arm simply folds and moves up into the ‘throwing’ position, as the shoulders finish coiling. If you ‘tuck’ your right elbow, the golf swing shirt won’t keep you from going around yourself, losing connection, and introducing all kinds of timing issues.
-Make sure not to forget chipping and putting. Connection is the heartbeat of the golf swing, and this tool will help you with all of your clubs!
You can learn more about the Golf Swing Shirt on their website.
The Putting Alley: What’s more fun than blasting a bucket full of balls with your driver? Nothing! Unfortunately it is also a huge waste of time since we all know the key to scoring is putting. Not only can good putting save a bad round but it is really the only way to go low. So unless you are disciplined enough to cut into your range time, you need to find another way to improve your putting. Well, help comes in the form of the Putting Alley.
While there are tons of putting aides, most are fairly weak in terms of being a true representation of the game. For me, I believe that if you can master a 27″ line you are halfway home to being a good putter. The folks who developed the Putting Alley are clearly of the same mindset. The Putting Alley is a simple 27″ inch putting surface which due to its construction lets you know exactly if you have hit it pure, pulled or pushed it. Here’s how it works.
The Putting Alley comes in both a plastic and wood version but the key is the metal rod that runs down the center of the alley. This metal rod has two sides which have a flat surface that is either 1″ or 1/2″ wide. Now you would think rolling a short putt would be stupid simple, but you will quickly find out that you have more yipps in your stroke than Vijay Singh has putters in his garage. Starting out with the 1″ side I quickly realized that I had my putter face slightly closed because I was pulling every single putt. The Putting Alley clearly showed this to me because with each putt the ball would roll half way down the alley then fall off of the rail on the inside edge.
Once I made this adjustment my putting improved dramatically, but still, rolling 5 to 8 putts in a row is no easy task. Because there is less room for error, the Putting Alley not only improves your stroke but also your concentration since any mistake will result in the ball not reaching the end on the metal bar. Hence, setting up little games such as seeing how many in a row you can make will really improve your mental focus.
So here is the beauty of this training aid: the folks at the Putting Alley say rolling a pure putt on the 1″ side is equivalent of rolling a 10 foot putt and the 1/2″ side is equivalent of a 20 foot putt. Therefore, you can actually practice longer putts with just a small training aide. Moreover, rolling putts over and over again gives you great confidence when you have to face those 2 foot putts during your weekend skins game.
Below is our video explaining how the Putting Alley works.
As I mentioned, the Putting Alley comes in both wood and plastic. The wood version shown here has been through a ton of trade shows but still looks great. This is a product that absolutely stands up over time and will never be an eyesore.
While the wood versions are not cheap at $159, the plastic version is under $50. Not only is this a great tool for individuals but for a teaching pro it would be a fantastic putting tool. So fear not, you can blast that bucket of balls all day long, just make sure you leave some time at home to work with the Putting Alley.
You can learn more about the Putting Alley on their website.
Three Guys Golf Blog, FixYourGame.com Review: Remember the first time you saw Super Slow Mo during a PGA event? How freaking cool was that? You could literally see the grains of sand flying off the club. Last year they even put the Slow Mo on amateurs during the Pebble Beach Pro Am and all I could think about was, “I want to get on Slow Mo”. Well, that may be a few years away, but now technology has made it so afforabable to see your swing that you really have no excuse to at least not understand your swing even if you can’t fix it.
Just a few years ago, if you wanted a video analysis you needed to go to GolfTec or some other high-end facility. Now with the use of a smart phone, YouTube and the internet, you can have a complete video analysis and lesson for under $20.
One of the outfits offering this service is FixYourGame.com. I was introduced to FixYourGame.com by PGA Professional Brant Kasbohm who offered to give a consulation for Matt and me. A couple of notes:
The process is very easy. Matt and I just filmed our swing from the side and back using an iPhone. I then uploaded the video, signed up on the fixyourgame.com and boom, a day and a half later I got a 10 minute lesson that I could watch (in Matt’s case, over and over and over).
The lesson: With FixYourGame.com you get two things. One: a written review of your golf swing. Brant will give you the low-down on your swing in generic terms and pull about 9 YouTube videos to address such issues as “over the top” or “early release”. While not exactly specific to me, they were still relevant and useful. Two: he will talk you through your swing using your video. With stop action analysis and drawn lines Brant’s review will greatly help you to understand how your swing is built and where it can be improved. For me, I was actually pretty sure what my faults were but I have never been able to get a straight answer as to how to fix them. Brant gave me one really good tip that has been very helpful in helping me improve my distance and consistency – I would have paid $100 for this tip but the lessons are only $20 . . . are you kidding me? You can’t get a lesson from the groundskeeper for $20. I don’t care if you never use an ounce of Brant’s advice, it is worth $20 for someone to talk about your swing for ten minutes. Seriously, we all know there is no silver bullet to fixing a golf swing, but understanding your swing is the first step in making progress. The club just goes too fast for us to know what is going on. Until you actually see yourself in stop action, you are just guessing.
In short, I would highly recommend FixYourGame.com simply because, at the very least, you will gain a much better understanding of your swing. As a bonus, I would say Brant has a solid handle on the golf swing and is quite good at breaking it down into a few simple parts in order to give you just a few key elements to work on. So don’t wait – Fix Your Game.
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