Three Swing Aids, Put to the Test

As every middling golfer knows, it is far preferable to make three easy payments on something that arrives via UPS than it is to take lessons from a good teacher and diligently practice what you've learned. And so there are always new customers for new devices. If ever you've held a Medicus in your hand, or just a credit card bill for one, you know what we're talking about.

In the spirit of public service, and at great risk to our already rickety swings, three of us gave a new-on-the-scene swing-fixer a try. Two are endorsed by serious tour pros and one is so cheap and odd we just had to give it a shot.

But caveat emptor, golfer: We golf journalists were able to use these things without paying for them. You, on the other hand, will have to shell out real beans for the privilege. If something here looks good to you, maybe you should just wait a few months until it appears on that final resting place for all golf-swing aids: eBay.

Or sign up for lessons?

The Aid Basics Purpose At First At Length Bottom Line
Correct Sight, $17.95 A red plastic viewfinder that clips to the bill of a cap and hangs horizontally in front of your eyes. Take your proper stance with the ball visible in the viewfinder. Keep the ball there through impact. Enforces two of golf's oldest and most basic swing tips: Keep your head down and your eye on the ball. Intended result is consistent contact. It looks odd, and it took some time to get comfortable with, partly because I felt self-conscious and partly because I wear bifocals. But looking through glasses and viewfinder was soon second nature. Little improvement over first weeks' use on the range and the course. But eventually my ball-striking improved: Worm-burners declined and lofted shots increased. Correct Sight proved especially useful for those 10- to 20-yard chip shots that can spell the difference between par and double-bogey. It also helped me line up putts. If you top and chunk the ball and don't keep your head still, it's worth a shot. With a price below $20, its main cost is to your pride.
Ernie Els Training System, $99.99 A three-piece system: The Rockroller locks in a proper putting stroke. The Tempotimer (a weighted club sleeve) and Stimpdimple (a tray that clips to putter shaft) are throw-ins. The Rockroller ingrains a firm, rock-your-shoulders putting stroke. The Tempotimer adds weight for practice swings; the Stimpdimple battles jerky putting. The Rockroller takes some adjustment but performs as advertised: Snug it between your biceps, hover over the ball and you feel the solid "triangle" of arms and putter the smart set talks about. The Stimpdimple is pure fun: balance a ball on the dimple as you stroke the ball; a fast, stabby stroke makes it drop off. By silencing your hands and wrists, the Rockroller builds a firm, online stroke that can only hit the ball straight. It takes fussing to adjust so your arms are relaxed, however. Stick with this and you almost feel like one of those putting robots. Good tool for rebuilding your putting stroke, should you be brave enough to try that. But hours of carpet time are needed so stroke doesn't disappear when you hit the green.
The Leaderboard, $199.80 Two platforms linked by aluminum rails. One is fixed, the other is a "skate" that slides along the rails against resistance from rubber tubing beneath. A third platform serves as a tee. Ingrains proper weight shift, something very difficult for amateurs to feel. Doubles as a workout device to improve balance and train golf-specific core muscles. Stand with left leg on fixed platform, right leg on the skate; swing and your body weight slides forward along with your left leg. Adjusting tension with tubing required maddening trial and error. Beneficial in helping me feel the transfer of weight from right to left during the swing. (I've always had a problem with this, out of fear of hooking.) You can indeed hit the ball off the third platform, but the whole thing is a chore to haul to the range. Best used at home to groove the weight shift and (with more resistance) train core golf muscles. Costs about as much as four private lessons. But for obsessives who'd rather "fix" their swings themselves, it does groove the weight shift pretty well.

SOURCE: Swing Editor Craig Stoltz; Special to the Washington Post Jeff Rendall and Bob Mitchell | GRAPHIC: The Washington Post

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