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Winter Shut Down I hear rumor that some of you can't play golf year-round. During winter, you actually get winter weather, shutting down access to your favorite course. While I can sort of understand that, NorCal drought has kept my courses open, but dry, during the winter for the past couple of years. We do need the rain though... Anyway, like many of you, I see the winter as a time to hone some golf skills in order to be ready for the next season. I'd like to say that the goal is to play better the next season, but we all know that just not having the swing completely disappear would be a victory. Training aides seem like a natural place to turn to get some golf motions in when real golf is not possible, and I've got a couple of them from SKLZ to share with you today. Really, these are more my first impressions about the aides since I have not had a ton of time with them, but so far, three of four are really good. The fourth shows potential, but its complexity will warrant further research. Grip Trainer $19.99 http://shop.sklz.com/fall-2015-products/grip-trainer-/invt/gogr001 Has anyone ever actually gripped a club with one of the standard type grip-training grips? I've definitely held one in the shop, and wondered if it would help, but I just couldn't (can't) see myself permanently attaching it to one of my clubs. Maybe I could buy a back-up set of clubs and grip them all with the training grips. Honestly, that seems like the only time I would go that direction. This little grip trainer is a different animal as it snaps on and off of the grip already on your club. You can switch it from wedge to iron to wood in about five seconds. Sorry midsized and up, you're too large from this. What I like about the grip trainer is that with it attached, I have a better understanding of where the face is during my swing. As a known wiper of the ball, this is a huge help. Additionally, once you clip this on, it really stays put. No twisting or sliding on my NO1 grips at all. So far, this one has earned a spot in the bag for range time. Accelerator Pro Compact Putting Mat $29.99 http://shop.sklz.com/fall-2015-products/accelerator-pro-compact-/invt/iptm001 This one is about what you would expect from a putting mat. The turf lays down pretty flat and allows the ball to roll true to target without skips and bumps. It does have a couple of extra things going for it. First, it's small. At only three feet long, you can probably find a spot to use it even in your new tiny house. Second, the alignment graphics and the elevated hole should help one to groove in a putting stroke. You are going to need to practice, of course, but having hit about a hundred putts on it (it's fun ), I can definitely see how it can help. Currently, it is at my neighbor's house where a high school golfer has been struggling with her putting. We will see if it can help her reduce here putts per round. Impact Golf Ball $9.99 http://shop.sklz.com/accuracy/impact-golf-balls/invt/mimpgb001 I love blasting practice golf balls around the backyard. I've used most of the different kinds, from the old hard plastic whiffle balls, to the reduced-flight Almost Golf balls. BTW, reduced flight does not mean that you should hit those with driver. You are welcome. Without a doubt, these Impact Golf Balls are my new favorite. They fly pretty well off the face, spinning enough to let you know some info about the swing, but not launching over fences, onto roofs, and into unhappy neighbor pools. What is best about these though is that they are seemingly unbreakable. A hard plastic one usually lasts an afternoon. One thin shot and it is done. These are fully resistant to my bashings. They squish, and pop right back. Seriously, check this out: You get a dozen for $10 and that should last you a long time. Plus, it comes with a little mesh bag for storage. You may lose these, but it will take some serious work to destroy them. All-In-One Swing Trainer $49.99 http://shop.sklz.com/accuracy/all-in-one-swing-trainer/invt/sled001 This one has me a bit more cautious in my praise. While I am totally thumbs-up on the other three training aides, my thumb is still level here. In theory, this contraption is amazing. It's easily adjustable in such a way that it should help you address multiple swing issues, such as coming over the top, moving your head, and weight poor shift. It could be amazingly helpful. It is a bit unruly to transport around. Not terribly so, but the bars will take up some space, and the base will be heavy-ish when you fill it with water. It's just not that portable. It does have a handle built into the base, but you will need that free hand to tote it around. I also have some concerns about its resiliency. Not from experience with this product, but with a similar one that I built DIY from PVC. That homemade contraption was similar in design, allowing me to work on the over the top issue. It worked well too, until I really came over the top and smashed it with a 7i. With that, I had to replace a cheap section of PVC, with this, a big chop could put you out $50. The simple solution, of course, is don't hit it with the club... Back to the plus side, this trainer is super easy to adjust and is built in such a way that the parts slide to the correct position and then lock in place via little pop-up buttons. With a bit of experience, it shouldn't be a huge deal to switch from one configuration to another. Anyway, this one is going to take a bit more research to get a final opinion. I am especially interested in setting it up for head movement monitoring, as there is no real way to do this on one's own. I'm sure I'll look a little silly with it resting against my head at the range, but if it helps my swing, I can handle that. Hone those SKLZ this Winter I love the balls, and I think that there will be some repeated use with the grip trainer and the putting mat. If the swing trainer survives my hacks, it too could be quite a help this off-season when I hit on a mat in the garage. Ball flight won't tell me anything in there, but the swing trainer could give valuable feedback. If I don't shatter it. What do you all think? Do you have any toys that help you to stay golf-fresh in the winter?
SKLZ Glide Pad I'm back with another edition of the Tuesday awesome, and this time around you'll be happy to know we've left the apparel realm (assuming underwear counts as apparel). Today's Awesomeness is the SKLZ Glide Pad Divot Simulator/Golf Mat. The Glide Pad is a really cool little mini-mat that makes improving your lies, and improving your overall practice experience ever so convenient. Why It's Awesome It's lightweight and super-portable. It gives when you make contact with it which simulates actual divot feel, and more importantly, doesn't make your wrists hurt. It goes anywhere (like I said, portable), which means you can turn this: and this: and this: into this: which makes it really easy for me to try and chip balls through this (from my deck no less): If there's a knock on the Glide Pad is that it does raise the ball up a bit more than a flat lie would, but if you're afflicted with a sketchy yard (I am), or a sketchy driving range (I am), then the SKLZ Glide Pad is any easy and convenient way to avoid having to practice out of crap without risking your wrists. Retail price for the SKLZ Glide Pad is just south of $100.