The great Arnold Palmer described golf in these terms: “Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It frustrates the intellect and satisfies the soul. It’s the greatest game ever created.”
These words prompted a discussion with my golfing buddy, Larry K., about the resources available to help us become better golfers, specifically whether training aids can help us. That said, there are literally thousands of training aids and devices to help us improve our golf games.
Because we all share a passion and appreciation for the game of golf, I’m asking all my readers to help out by providing your answers to this two-part question on training aids. First, have you ever tried a training aid to help you improve your golf game? If you have, please send some information about the training aid, its purpose, and how it has helped you. You can send me an email with this information to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will publish the results in a future column.
In my discussion with Larry, we both admitted that our use of training aids has been very limited. He could recall only three or four training aids. Using “orange whips,” which were long flexible poles with a ball at the end that you swung prior to playing your round of golf to stretch out your muscles and increase flexibility; and alignment poles, which he still uses to improve alignment, were his most useful ones.
As for me, the only two training aids I could recall using were the putting arc, which was designed to make your putting better, and the Medicus driver, which you swung on a perfect takeaway, downswing, and follow through, or else it would unhinge.
Although Larry and I are not big advocates of training aids, I know several golfers who swear that this or that aid helped improve their golf game. In addition, I see touring pros who will using a string to draw a line from the hole to specific distances and use it to determine if they are making a good stroke on the ball. And, of course, there are articles in golf magazines describing ways to increase your swing speed, improve your ball striking, and get better results.
I am also not sure whether statistics and sabermetrics count as training aids. For example, Dustin Johnson, the number-one player in the world, achieved this lofty stature by hard work and endless practicing; but it wasn’t until he started using a Trackman on the range to determine the exact distances and heights he was hitting his shots that he attained greatness. Why? Because he found that his long driving left him numerous shots from 150 yards and closer, and he wasn’t very good in hitting those shots close to the pin to make birdies.
For Larry and me, the keys to improving our games are threefold—practice with a purpose and under the watchful eyes of an instructor; work to increase your focus and improve the mental game, including course management; and make the tools of your trade (e.g., your golf clubs work for you by being custom fit).
Among senior golfers, the most overlooked key is better course management. Larry said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen senior golfers just hitting their drives on every tee, without thinking where they are aiming or whether they should be hitting other clubs, such as a three-wood or a hybrid/rescue club.” Another key is to avoid doubles and triple bogeys by hitting shots to the middle of fairways, the middle of greens, and overclubbing instead of underclubbing.
Before leaving you, don’t forget to email me your experiences with training aids to: email@example.com.