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Started playing around with this interesting little gadget last night... It's called The Putting Stick from TPK Golf (click here for the website) - one of the more interesting putting aids I've played with. The green carpet isn't part of it - bought that a couple of years ago. The Putting Stick is a 3-foot long piece of hard plastic with a dimple to rest the ball on. The goal is to putt with an accelerating stroke and keep the ball on the stick the entire length. It's harder than it looks... There's a mirror assembly at the end of that stick that tells you whether your eyes are over the ball and whether you're in alignment. This picture shows I'm slightly out of alignment... Here's what you see if you're in alignment with eyes over the ball... You have to make a smooth, accelerating stroke to keep the ball on the track. It ain't easy. Will play around with this thing a little more and give a full report...
The TPK Golf Putting StickÂ® â€œEvery putt is a straight putt. Even if it curves 6 feet to the hole, you have to hit the ball straight on the line you choose.â€ -Vlad Gribovsky, owner of TPK Golf & The Putting StickÂ® The Putting StickÂ® looks deceptively simple: a 46â€ long, 1â€ wide green stick with a mirror & stand assembly on one end. The object? Putt the ball so it stays on the stick for all 46 inches. Easier said than done. So It's A Stick, Right? Green reading aside, putting is mostly about alignment, a square face at impact and speed. Miss any one and the ball ain't hitting the hole. The Putting StickÂ® force feeds you proper putting alignment, a square face at impact and an accelerating stroke. Miss any one and the ball ain't staying on the track. Should be easy, right? Heh, heh. My first few tries with the Putting StickÂ® careened off the track like a Nascar pileup: complete failure. My inner monolog was all â€œWhat the hell good is this thing?â€ Then I read the instructions. For proper alignment, place a ball at one end of the stick (there's a dimple) and take your normal putting stance. Then look at the mirror on the other end. If properly aligned â€“ eyes over the ball, standing square to the target - the ball will be perfectly lined up with a stripe etched down the center of the mirror. Just a little off and the ball will appear either left or right of the line, and there's no way on Earth the ball will roll down the track. Once properly aligned, you'll need to putt with a square face at impact and an accelerating stroke. If you're decelerating or if the face is off-kilter, there's no way on Earth the ball will roll down the track. â€œThe Putting StickÂ® gives you immediate feedback,â€ says TPK Golf owner Vlad Gribovsky. â€œAre you lined up properly? You know right away. Is your stroke accelerating? Is the putter face square at impact? You know right away.â€ Setup: Pain or Bliss? Depending on which Putting StickÂ® you use, setup is either Very Simple or Caveman Simple. The mirrored version features a 3-piece mirror assembly (white plastic base, mirror bracket and mirror) that takes roughly a minute to put together. The green stick slides into the white base easily. Put it on the floor and you're good to go in about 2 minutes, if you dawdle. Bliss! The Pro-Version is even easier. It's just the stick itself with a small mirror built in to the putting surface to help alignment. Lay it on the floor and go. The Pro-Version also fits nicely in your golf bag for use at the practice green. The full-mirrored version has instructions on the box and an instructional DVD. The Pro-Version instructions are on a flash drive. â€œLet It Roll, Baby, Rollâ€¦â€ I set up the mirrored Putting StickÂ® in my family room on a putting mat and started rolling. My first attempts were miserable - my â€œnaturalâ€ putting stance had me all kattywompus, so much so that it felt downright unnatural to stand with the ball lined up with the mirror. â€œMost golfers think they set up with their eyes over the ball, but they don't,â€ Vlad told me. â€œThe mirror gives you that immediate feedback.â€ Roger that! Once aligned, the next trick is to square the putter face at impact with an accelerating stroke. A moveable rubber plug at one end of the Stick serves as a backswing guide that can be adjusted for the length of putt you're practicing and for different green speeds. Again, if you're the slightest bit misaligned, if you decelerate or if the putter face isn't square at impact, the ball won't make it down the track. And because you're trying so hard, it takes a while to develop what could be considered a â€œnaturalâ€ feeling stroke. You're paying attention to every little muscle movement, resulting in clunky and mechanical strokes. My first session was frustrating â€“ I couldn't get 1 ball out of 10 down the track. But with more practice I discovered a few things. As mentioned, the first five minutes were spent wrestling with my out-of-alignment natural setup. With practice I found the proper setup becoming more natural and automatic, which led to a few balls rolling the length of the Stick. Next, I started feeling a smooth, square, accelerating stroke, leading to a few more balls rolling the length of the Stick. It was a subtle, but definite transition from conscious incompetence to conscious competence. Yeah, But Does It Work???? Several sessions with the Pro-Version at the Minnesota Golf Academy indoor putting green provide a definitive YES! At each session my goal was simple: get 5 in a row down the Stick. After clunky starts, proper alignment - eyes over the ball - started getting easier. Soon the putter head squared up and I had a nice, accelerating stroke. And then... BAM! 5 in a row down the Stick. Next step: move the Stick and putt normally. BAM! Nailed 10 of 10 from 5 feet. Big deal? Maybe not, but the stroke felt natural and automatic. Line up, square up, putt. Wash, rinse and repeat. At 10 feet I nailed 8 of 10, then 6 of 10 from 15 feet. Of the 6 misses, 2 or 3 were slightly off line. The rest were just short. Not bad for indoors, but the real test comes in January in Florida. Bona Fides: The poster child for the Putting StickÂ® is PGA pro Bo Van Pelt. Back in 2011, Van Pelt was working with teaching pro Mitch Crum. Bo ranked 144th in putting stats that year, and Crum put him to work with an early Putting Stick Pro prototype. According to Crum, Van Pelt couldn't roll even one ball down the Stick, and was ready to quit. He kept at it, eventually improving his stroke. A year later Van Pelt ranked as high as #3 in putting statistics. Crum says Van Pelt still uses the Stick today, sending 50 in a row down the rail before teeing off. Should You Buy It?: Cold, hard cash for the Putting StickÂ®? I'd say YES! It provides a real benefit for improving alignment and stroke. If you have alignment issues or struggle finding a consistent, repeatable stroke, the Putting StickÂ® can certainly help you. Ten minutes a day forces proper alignment and gets your eyes over the ball. And the challenge of getting that damn ball down the length of the stick will keep you motivated all winter long. The Putting StickÂ® won't teach you to read greens, but it will help you hit the ball on the line you do choose, and at the speed you want. You can buy the Putting StickÂ® at tpkgolf.com The mirrored version is $79.95, the Pro-Version (with a built-in mirror) is $69.95. BIG NEWS!!! We have 3, count 'em, THREE Putting Sticks to give away to luck forum members this week (1 mirrored version and 2 Pro-Versions). We're going to have some fun with this one!!! CLICK HERE TO ENTER!!