Too Many Bad Training Aids!
If there’s anything in golf that gets me fired up, it’s bad training aids. Not only are they a waste of money, they’re a waste of time and they often make golfers worse. And there are a lot of them. In this short lesson, I’m going to give you the information you need to separate the good from the bad so that you can maximize your practice time with the best training aids available.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You’ve wasted time with bad training aids in the past
You want to use training aids, but don’t want to waste time or money
How to Choose a Training Aid
Step #1: Identify Your Problem
The first thing you need to figure out is what problem you’re trying to solve. You wouldn’t go to the doctor unless there was something wrong, so don’t buy a training aid unless you have a specific problem you want to fix.
The key word is specific. Don’t buy a training aid believing it will magically make you a better ball striking. The Tour Striker, for example, will not make you a better ball striker. It can teach you to get more shaft lean and hit down more, but if you already lean the shaft and hit down, how will that help? You need to be precise in determining what you’re trying to change, and that may require a professional diagnosis.
Step #2: Find a Training Aid to Fix Your Problem
Once you know what your problem is – inability to control the putter face, off-center contact with the driver, etc – you can start to look for a training aid. It might seem like this will be easy, but it’s not. Most training aids are marketed to be all things to all people – “Hit it longer! Hit it straighter!” instead of “Learn how to hit the center of the club face.” You need to take a hard look at the training aid and ask yourself, “What is this aid going to force me to do?” If it’s anything other than what you’re trying to change, keep looking.
Step #3: Try It and Evaluate the Feedback
The best training aids give clear, unambiguous feedback. For example, The Putting Fork Pro is great: if your ball hits the tees, you messed up. If it goes through the tees, you did well. Simple and easy to understand. If you perform a rep and are unclear as to whether or not you did well, or you need to consult a manual to figure out what the feedback means, you are using a bad training aid.
Similarly, there are training aids that can be cheated. The Medicus is my favorite example. If you swing the Medicus slowly enough, the hinge won’t break. Alternately, if you get the hinges into a “strong” position, you can do things that look nothing like a golf swing and have “success.” If you can cheat the training aid, it’s not worth using.
Extra Credit: Longevity and Versatility
While it’s not required, training aids with longevity and versatility are great. Longevity means that you’ll keep using it which means you’ll get better. Versatility means multiple uses and that can provide additional value.
Longevity can be subjective, but one training aid that I think has great longevity is Tour Tempo. The reasons that I use Tour Tempo so regularly are that I will never permanently master my tempo and it gives me great results immediately. Being fun to use, easy to use, and challenging are other things that add to a training aid’s longevity.
One of my favorite training aids, which also has great versatility, is SwingSmart. SwingSmart can be used with any club, and it can help you to assess many different problems – tempo, club face, path, etc. The one thing you need to keep in mind about versatility is that it’s a bonus, not a reason to buy something. If a training aid can’t do a great job fixing your primary problem, all the versatility in the world won’t make it worth buying.
If I’ve made it sound like buying a good training aid is hard, that’s because it is. You’re essentially asking a device or an app to fix your golf swing which is no easy thing to do! That shouldn’t discourage you, however, because there are some fantastic training aids out there which can absolutely help you improve your game.