Golf Practice - How To Use Golf Training Aids
Search for “golf training aids” on a certain well-known e-commerce site and you will be rewarded with more than 1,000 results spread over some 61 pages that can help you with your golf practice.
So clearly there is an enormous market for devices of this kind, and while golfing purists will insist that there is no substitute for hitting balls, there are many players who will swear by the results they have achieved through using them.
But to improve your golf practice with training aids, it is essential to use them in accordance with the well-established principles of effective golf practice.
There are types of aid which are suitable for this, and others which are much less so.
The Types of Golf Training Aid
Apart from minor differences of design and manufacture, there are only really a few types of golf training aid products.
Strength and speed trainers
Into this category fall the numerous heavy clubs, speed stick and smash bag types of trainer; all of which are essentially designed to increase the speed of the swing and the force of the impact achieved.
But while these things may be useful in strengthening the golfing muscles, they can do little to help the development of transferable skills, which is the real point of practice.
A wide range of devices come under this heading, from wearable gadgets designed to keep the wrists and/or elbows in the “correct” attitude during the swing, to practice clubs such as the Tour Striker, with which it is almost impossible to hit the ball unless the desired impact position is achieved.
These products may have their uses, particularly in helping to correct very specific faults of which you are already aware, but using them effectively for long-term practice will be much more challenging.
Apart from the prohibitively expensive Track Man, there are now a number of electronic gadgets which will give you immediate feedback on clubhead speed, ball speed, estimated carry etc.
Of course this is useful information, especially for the more advanced player, but again it is difficult to apply directly within a skill building session during golf practice.
Putting is perhaps the only aspect of golf that can be satisfactorily practiced indoors, and there are innumerable training aids which claim to be able to help. Almost all of these work by in one way or another restricting the path of the putter head and requiring the golfer to roll the ball through a narrow gate.
The idea is that the repeated and rapid repetition of this simple task will groove a perfect putting stroke which can then be taken on to the course to provide a dramatic improvement in scoring.
But unfortunately, however good the stroke learned in this way may be, it is apt to fall apart very quickly under the pressure of trying to hole out on a real green.
The Keys to Effective Golf Practice
When using a putting tool or any kind of golf training aid during golf practice the key to developing lasting transferable skills is to carry out practice tasks which will generate a significant level of cognitive stress.
The way to do this is to undertake a variety of tasks, spaced out over time, and to include an element of performance challenge.
It may take a little thought and imagination to do this with a golf training aid, but it can be achieved and will result in effective golf practice.
To take the putting example: the club itself will obviously be a constant rather than a variable factor, but variety can be introduced by rolling putts from different distances, by putting one-handed or even by putting with closed eyes. This last one is great for improving your feel of the stroke and control of the clubface.
You can add the element of spacing by taking the time to line up every putt exactly as you would on the course; and finally add challenge by for example trying to “hole” as many consecutive putts as you can with left hand only, right hand only and from a different location every time.
Putting is perhaps particularly well suited to this kind of practice, but when using any golf training aid it is worth considering how the principles of effective learning can be incorporated into your golf practice.