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gavinski91

 
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Everything posted by gavinski91

  1. My final thoughts on challenge mode: I suspect this will be the least-used mode for me moving forward. Reading a green on a 2-dimensional screen is very difficult to do, and doesn't translate well to green reading on the course. I think the largest benefit will be in being able to compare putt speeds up and down hill at any given green speed to a flat putt. Over the next week I plan to put together a chart that tracks ball speeds vs putt distance on different green speeds - once I have that I'll be able to see that, say for theoretical example, a 20' putt that goes downhill by 6" will play like a 16' putt on flat ground, and be able to adjust my putting stroke as necessary.
  2. Best I managed to do was a 249. Those 8 made putts ended up representing 10% of my score. Here's a picture showing the amount of curve that the mat can get - the result is about 1" of curve over the full length (represented by 1/2" at the halfway point). Unfortunately I wasn't able to putt consistently enough to determine if it had an impact, but I'd imagine that it would. I also tried to find the limit of what the sensor can pick up. I couldn't get it to track any shots harder than 18 mph (it just wouldn't register). This was the longest putt I managed to record. Shows just how crazy that 139' putt that Michael Phelps holed was!
  3. Ticked 5 holes off the list today, including the first hole which I always struggle with, and two difficult par threes on the front 9. Missed GIR on all three of those, but my chipping was feeling really good today - was within an inch of chipping in on 3 separate occasions. My hybrid felt really good off the tee today as well so I was going with that over my driver most holes, which seemed to help as well.
  4. As someone currently playing D200s and liking them quite a bit, I'll be paying close attention to this test! Good luck to everyone applying!
  5. Need to do some more testing over the weekend to confirm, but I think I discovered a possible issue with the system (technically a user error, but the user would never know). Since the mat is made of a slightly stretchy, neoprene-type material, it is possible to set up the mat so it is curved, which would confuse the software. I had a few shots last night that according to the markings on the mat were hit just right of the target, but the simulator measured as going left of the cup. I'm going to do some testing with the mat intentionally curved in one direction, then the other, then with it aligned with a straight-edge, to see how much of an impact that has.
  6. I always thought that "the ocean is full of trash!" was #fakenews, but @Lacassem has proven to me today that we have a serious problem that we need to deal with!
  7. I was doing some more "testing" (read: putting practice) last night and was really struggling to keep my face angle close to zero (my goal is to never have a face angle greater than 1° in either direction). So I'll have to see if I can figure out what the issue was there - was it a lighting issue with the system struggling to accurately read the face angle, or is my putting getting worse with too much practice time? And since I'm never happy unless I can "fix" the problem, I'm going out now to buy a new putter grip. Maybe that will solve all my problems! Either way, the EXPUTT system will give me an easy way to determine if the new grip gives me any improvement. More updates to come!
  8. I mean if I saw these consistent numbers from @GB13 or @B.Boston I would be giving the club all the credit, but in this case I think it's all about who's behind the wheel.
  9. 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!
  10. The hint is definitely the key - one of my issues with the system is that the greens are really hard to read on the screen. It might work for some, but doesn't work for my style. A directional line on the heat map in the corner, Wii-golf style, would be a handy feature to have. Here's my best so far - not gonna win the prize, but it's a fail-free round! Here's a picture of what I would like to see added - an arrow in the heat map in the top right corner that indicates what direction you are currently aiming.
  11. Instagram contest was open to whatever people wanted to use for greens and speeds, so you don't have to worry!
  12. Either is possible. I was planning on shooting some video tonight showing use of the controls on mat vs. the remote.
  13. You forget that I'm a millennial - everything is just a different mode of a game!
  14. This should be a good challenge! To clarify the way this game mode works for everyone - you're on a 9-hole course, with three pin locations for each hole. Essentially works out to 27 opportunities to get points. You need to either get your putt to stop within 3 feet of the cup (at which point the game "concedes"), or hole the putt, and you get three chances at each pin location. If you get a concede on your first attempt, you get 10 points and move on to the next pin location. If you get it on your second attempt, 5 points. Third attempt, 2 points. If after three attempts you still haven't gotten close enough, you get 0 points. Additionally, if you hole the putt you get 3 bonus points (so for example, if you send your first attempt way past the cup, but then hole your second putt, you would get 8 points). Exputt recently hosted a contest on Instagram using this challenge, and the winning score was 255. It'll be interesting to see how our test group compares!
  15. Now that vacation is over I was excited to crack open the package and get going! Don't want to spoil too much from my intro post (coming soon!) but I did find the setup very straightforward and easy. Opened the box, tossed the user manual out of the way, and was putting 10 minutes later! (And a full minute of that time was spent wandering around trying to find where I put the remote )
  16. The challenge isn't for putts made, but putts attempted. So basically who is going to grind out the longest practice session attempting the exact same putt over and over
  17. This is gonna be a good one, looks like a good group of testers - I'm always interested to see tests that involve first-time testers, they can bring a fresh perspective!
  18. Man, this is an awesome opportunity! Good luck to everyone who's entered!
  19. Practiced mid-range wedge shots up to 60 yards. The side yard at our place is long enough for the practice, but narrow enough that it forces me to be really precise. Also worked on a toe-down wedge shot for out of tough lies - still needs a bit of work before I bring it out on the course.
  20. Once I get to testing I do plan on putting the mat on multiple surfaces to see how it does - the floor in my living room is tile so I wonder if the grout gaps will have an impact on the system's ability to predict ball path. Unfortunately the arrival of the test units coincided with a wedding and a getaway with my wife, so the rest of the testers have a week-long headstart on me!
  21. The stopper is just semi-elastic to absorb energy from hard putts so they don't ricochet around the room allowing you to do 20+ foot putts in a really small space. All of the calculations are based on what the camera sees based on the speed of the ball immediately after impact - it calculates distance and ball path by taking into account ball speed, green speed, and slope.
  22. I've had the same concern and am interested to see what it feels like. One thought I've had is wondering if this will change my approach to putting to be more like Bryson - pace out the putt so that you know the exact distance, and have swings associated with numerical distances (plus maybe a "plays like" to account for slope and green speed) rather than doing everything based off of feel. We all swing our irons based off of specific distances, knowing that a full swing with one club will go 165 yards, and a half swing with another club will go 95 yards, but when it comes to putting for most people I suspect it's all based on feel, and then rather than changing our swing we change how hard we hit the ball (keep in mind I'm speaking from a high-handicap perspective). This system I believe has the potential to radically change the way I approach putting.
  23. At the very least if someone on here is one of the eight finalists, we can all put our vote behind them!
  24. EXPUTT – Official MGS Forum Review by @gavinski91 TL/DR: If you’re someone who likes to dive into the data and wants to make improvements on your putting, the EXPUTT could be a worthwhile investment. The ability to practice 50’ lag putts in a 4’ space is something that not many other putting practice aids can match, and you might enjoy the Challenge and Play modes more than I do. Look at it this way – if you want to spend $400 to improve your putting, this will almost certainly be more effective at shaving strokes than that Scotty Cameron you were eyeing in the pro shop last week! Throughout the pages of this thread there is a lot of technical information about the EXPUTT system, photos of it in use, and more. While I’m going to cover some of that in this review, I wanted this to be more than what the system is and how it works, so I’m going to include a lot of information about how the EXPUTT changed the way I putt. I don’t expect any two people to have the exact same experience with the system, but maybe some of my experiences are something that someone else might find valuable. If you want some background about me and my impressions of the EXPUTT, check out this post. There is no denying that my putting has gotten better since I got the EXPUTT system. In the above box-and-whisker charts, the blue data represents the 10 rounds before I got the EXPUTT system, and the orange the 6 rounds since. If you’re unfamiliar with box-and-whisker plots, all you need to know is that most rounds will fall in the range of the solid-color box, with particularly good or bad rounds falling in the “whiskers” above and below. So not only did my putting get better (shown by the fact that the orange boxes are centered lower in the chart), it also got more consistent from round to round (shown by the fact that the orange boxes are smaller). In fact, my post-EXPUTT 3-Putts per Round was so consistent I had to add some fake data points to make the chart visible! Whether all of that improvement is due to the EXPUTT is unclear, but it certainly played a significant part. So, what all changed? Practice. Golf for me is a hobby first and foremost. While my rounds with my brothers may have a competitive undertone, we’re out there to have fun. I don’t play in tournaments and leagues, and so with my limited time available for golf, I prefer to play rather than practice. With the EXPUTT however it becomes much easier to practice putts, even if just for 10 minutes after dinner. The portability and small footprint of the system is hugely helpful here – I can practice 50’ lag putts in a 4’ x 6’ space on the floor in front of the TV. Data. It’s a numbers game! I’m a big fan of data-driven decision making, but for me putting had always been about feel. Even spending time on a practice green, there’s no way to tell if I missed the putt just right because I left the face open 0.6°, or because the green isn’t actually level, or because someone else’s shoes scuffed up the green and pushed the ball off line. Being able to repeatedly make the same putt on a system that monitored what I was doing allowed me to identify and correct issues in real time. Stroke Length. Building off of that, one of the first issues that I identified was that I tried to control ball speed based off of club head speed and not stroke length. I chose to measure stroke length in terms of ball speed rather than putt distance, since putt distance is a function of ball speed (which I can control) and green speed(which I can’t control). I quickly learned that my old approach wasn’t repeatable, and was also tough to do when you didn’t have a real-life visual on the putt distance and instead had to look at a screen. The above image is approximately what I now visualize when it comes to correlating stroke length with ball speed, thanks to my time spent practicing on EXPUTT. Grip. Early on in testing, one of the issues I identified was that, on short putts, I struggled greatly with face angle control. Even watching my backswing I could see the face wobbling by about 1.5° in either direction. A switch to a Golfpride Tour SNSR Contour Pro grip from the stock skinny grip made a huge difference there. Seeing the data on the EXPUTT was the impetus I needed to make the change. I also experimented with different hand orientations, but none of them were as consistent as my traditional grip. Confidence. The accumulation of the above-mentioned changes resulted in a massive increase of confidence for me. Putting is a largely mental game, and being confident is hugely important – I’m now at the point where, unless there is a significant amount of break, every 6’ putt I’m standing over I’m confident will go in. In fact, I may be too confident in my putting – as is evidenced in me walking in what would have been my first-ever eagle, only for it to lip out. No matter, though; as long as the misses don’t get in my head, I think the high level of confidence is good for my game. Bottom line, will I continue to use the EXPUTT? My answer is “Yes”, but with two caveats. One is that there are limitations to the data that it provides, and it’s important to understand those limitations before you use the data to make changes to your putting. I found early on that impact angle had a very strong correlation to launch direction, while putter path had a very weak correlation, suggesting to me initially that having an impact angle <1° was all that was necessary to putt the ball straight. However, I found as I spent more time practicing with the system that occasionally a poor impact angle was the cause of a missed putt, but more often than not both the impact angle and the missed putt were the result of an off-center strike. The system measures the angle of the putter face immediately after ball contact, not before. I tend to putt with a very light grip, so my putting stroke may come in with a face angle of 0°, but the face is pushed open by 2° or more when I hit the ball toe-side, and closed when I hit the ball heel-side. The limited data that the system gives would suggest that a miss left of the hole is the result of a closed face angle, while in reality both the left miss and the closed face are results of a heel-side strike on the club face. Someone who wasn’t paying close enough attention could spend hours trying to work on squaring up the club face at impact based on the data the system was giving them, when in reality they should instead be focused on hitting the center of the club face. Of course, not every putter or putting stroke is impacted the same way by off-center contact, but it’s certainly a factor to consider. The second is that while the device is excellent for practicing starting putts on line and getting the correct ball speed, the green reading system, when combined with the fact that you’re looking at a 2-d representation of a green, makes the challenge and play modes useless for improving your game. While those modes may make for a fun game with friends over a few beers, it feels closer to Wii Golf than Augusta National. To be completely honest, if I want to have fun with a putter in one hand and a beer in the other, I would prefer mini-golf (or for the true weirdos among us, putt-putt). The practice mode, however, is excellent. It has helped me improve my putting stroke consistency, and also helped me identify other areas that can be fixed by other means, such as switching to a new grip. In the future I would like to make the switch to a face-balanced putter, and if I do you can bet the first thing I’ll do is use the EXPUTT system to determine if the switch was the right move, or if I need to return the putter. And for those of you who want to go full mad scientist, you’ll appreciate this last bit. Since I've gained the ability, thanks to the EXPUTT system, to putt the ball to a certain speed (+/- 10%), I spent about 4 hours hitting balls at specific speeds on varying speeds of green to develop this chart (on average it takes me 12 shots to hit a ball exactly the speed I want, down to 0.1 mph). I’m thinking I can print it out and laminate it to keep in my bag. 10 minutes on the practice green to identify the speed that the greens are playing at a course, and step out the length of each putt to determine what ball speed I need (adjusted for elevation change) and my lag putting should improve immensely. Bryson would be proud! Here are the final scores I give the system. Quality of Components – 7/10 While none of the components, with the exception of the power adapter, are poor quality, neither are they what I would consider a premium product. The storage bag for the mat is cheap material, the remote feels uncomfortably light, and there isn’t a sense of a high level of manufacturing and qc. It seems like it was designed and built as a tool to get the job done, and that’s ok. My initial review explains this in more detail. Ease of Use – 10/10 In the interest of giving an experience that matches what most users would do, I still haven’t opened the user manual for the EXPUTT. While the menus may be visually unappealing, and the buttons on the remote slower to respond than I would have liked, I had no problem at all setting the system up and getting started. The live camera mode when first starting the system up was especially helpful for properly lining up the mat and getting the system up and running. Basic Characteristics – 22/30 This section was where my preference against Challenge and Play modes really penalizes the score I would give the system. Only having a single mode to use limits the amount of time I would choose to spend, and as the weeks of testing went on I found myself less and less excited to turn the system on and spend an hour or more rolling putts. By the end of the Play Mode test week it felt more like a workout routing – something I had to force myself to do to improve, and not something I was looking forward to. I think my frustrations with that mode were a large part of the issue – since that test week finished I’ve stuck with just using Practice mode and have enjoyed it a lot more. As a note, due to Covid restrictions I haven’t had the ability to test the system in a social setting. I hope to have my brother over sometime soon and will run through the Play mode with him. There is a chance that that experience will change my feelings about that mode, in which case I will come back and update my review. On-Course Performance – 14/15 The data speaks for itself here! I’ve made significant improvements to my putting since I started using the EXPUTT, and hopefully that trend continues! My only concern is that there were a few times when I wasn’t 100% confident that the numbers the system were giving me accurately represented the putting stroke I had made – a putt that appeared to go right on the mat might miss the hole to the left on the screen. I haven’t been able to replicate those concerns though through repeated testing, so that may be an issue with my perception of the marks on the mat as the ball rolls past them. Miscellaneous – 15/15 As a company, EXPUTT is excellent. The founder, Mo, was very willing to answer any questions we sent him via email (and there were a lot)! Separately from that, when I posted a shot of my practice time on my Instagram story, the company reached out to make sure that I was happy with the product and to see if I had any questions or concerns. They also shared with me that there is more in the pipeline, so I’m excited to see what comes next! Continue to Use – 16/20 Moving forward for me, the EXPUTT system will be a swing improvement and practice tool. I can’t imagine I’ll use the Challenge and Play modes very often, but will instead be sticking to Practice mode to ensure that I can repeatably hit putts at specific speeds, and make sure that my putts are starting on line. For that limited use, and with my concerns about the feel of the product, I would say it’s slightly overpriced at MSRP. Additionally, I would love to see the system have the ability to measure launch angle as well – I’m imagining an add-on ground-level camera that looks at the ball from the side and communicates with the main system via Bluetooth. Maybe that’s something we’ll see in a future generation of the product. Final Score – 84/100 Summary: If you’re someone who likes to dive into the data and wants to make improvements on your putting, the EXPUTT could be a worthwhile investment. The ability to practice 50’ lag putts in a 4’ space is something that not many other putting practice aids can match, and you might enjoy the Challenge and Play modes more than I do. Look at it this way – if you want to spend $400 to improve your putting, this will almost certainly be more effective at shaving strokes than that Scotty Cameron you were eyeing in the pro shop last week!
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