Gavinski91's EXPUTT Review Introduction
Well I’m a full week behind the rest of the testers due to a vacation I had already planned with my wife, but I think getting away from the busyness of work and life and spending some time surfing and laying on the beach was the refresh I needed to attack this test with gusto!
Since I’m new to the forums I’ll take some time here to introduce myself! My name is Gavin, and I’m from the far northwest of Washington State (literally right on the border). And although I do ski, the nickname predates that! I definitely don’t have the same amount of experience that some of the other testers have (looking at their intros, some of them have been golfing regularly for longer than I’ve been alive!) but I think I have a background that might resonate with quite a few forum members.
I first swung a golf club in the late 90s, when my dad had the local golf shop cut down his old wood-headed driver and an old putter to a length that worked for an undersized 8-year-old and took me to the local driving range and mini-golf course. However, it wasn’t until 2016, when I had finished my undergrad and graduate degrees and had a full-time job, that I started getting serious about golf. Between those times my sports focus was mainly on baseball and ice hockey, which allowed me to develop swing mechanics and strength that, although perhaps not entirely traditional, translated well to golf.
I could go into detail about my handicap (20.7), swing tempo (high), etc., but to be completely honest I don’t think that information is relevant to a putting test. If we go back to my hockey roots, hitting a driver off the tee or an iron on an approach shot is like a slapshot or wrist shot in a game situation. Putting, however, is more like the fan during the intermission trying to score from center ice into a small slot in a barrier at the goal to win a new car – the mechanics are different, and strength and form don’t matter. The only relevant thing is being able to get the shot on the correct line with sufficient power.
When it comes to putting, my biggest strength has always been being able to read the correct line. My process is usually crouching back behind the ball and imagining the full path that the ball will need to take, starting at the cup and working back to where my ball is. This allows me to determine my starting line, and if I can hit that line I can be pretty confident about having a really good chance of holing the putt. The issue for me has always been consistently hitting the starting line for my putt path of choice and having the proper speed on the putt, which for me has been 90% about feel and maybe 10% about stroke/backswing length. I typically average 3.5 three-putts per round (median of 3), and over my last 5 rounds my putts/GIR is a half stroke worse than my putts/hole, so obviously lag putting is a weakness. This is where I think the EXPUTT has the biggest opportunity to help me improve.
Other testers have already gone into detail about the packaging and unboxing, so I’ll skip that. I will say that the branding is excellent, with a few smaller touches that are really nice, like having the camera and the shock absorber share some visual elements.
Disappointingly, some of the components right out of the box looked and felt cheap. The power adapter in particular looked like it was sourced from the cheapest provider available on AliBaba – the USB port was crooked, the entire unit was bulky and made of low-quality plastic, and nothing about it suggested that it belonged in the same box as a $400 putting simulator.
While the manufacturing and QC on the actual unit was significantly better than the power adapter, both the camera unit and the remote felt too light to be a high-quality piece of technology. While I’m aware that consumers wrongly equate heft with quality, and that many electronics manufacturers add internal metal weights to their products (such as headphones) to give the illusion of quality, it’s hard to get past the perception that a product that is very light must be made of thin, low-quality plastics. For comparison, the remote control from my Samsung soundbar weighs twice as much as the remote from the EXPUTT, even though they are the same size and utilize the same battery.
Setup of the entire system was very easy for me, although for someone with less tech savvy it may be slightly more difficult, as you may have to navigate your TVs display settings to ensure that the entire display is visible on your screen. The time from when I cut the seal on the box with my pocketknife to my first putt in practice mode was 10 minutes. The menus are all straightforward and easy to navigate, although there are a few features which are named in a way that doesn’t make their purpose obvious. In order to replicate the experience of what I would imagine is most users, I plan to not look at the user manual until the very end of the test.
I’ll leave the more in-depth software critique to @cnosil who is experienced in software testing. I will say that the menus are all straightforward and easy to navigate, although there are a few features which are named in a way that doesn’t make their purpose obvious. The main menu definitely gives the unit a dated feel – it looks like something I would’ve expected 10 years ago. The in-game practice mode screen looks much more modern though, and does a good job of including lots of information without being too intrusive in my opinion.
I’ve only had a few hours with the unit so far, but I will share a major revelation that I had in my first 30 minutes with it: if you can get your putter face to square up to your target line, it doesn’t matter what path the putter head takes to get there. In the below picture you can see that I took an exaggerated out-to-in path with my club, and tried my best to keep the face square. I managed to sink a 10-foot putt with an 11.5° out-to-in club path, and the resulting numbers show that the direction that your putt travels is 95% determined by the face angle at impact, and only 5% by the club path. As a result, I will be focusing my practice moving forward on squaring up the club face, and not worrying about club path – my early practice has shown me that as long as your face angle is less than 0.5° in either direction from the target line, you’ll sink every putt from 10 feet and in.
There will be lots more to come over the next few weeks of testing, so let me know what else you would like to hear from me!