DST GOLF REVIEW AND 5 QUESTIONS
The DST is the latest in a long line of training clubs on the market today, its focus is to get the player into what they feel is the ideal impact position. I know you've heard this story before, so I went right to the source; DST’s Founder & CEO, Bertie Cordle to hear it from the man himself why the Compressor is such a great product. The feedback I got from Bertie really shows the passion and enthusiasm of a man who truly believes in what he's doing.
As well as our 5 Questions segment I spent many months using the DST Compressor myself and you’ll find my thoughts on it as well at the end of all this.
Where did the idea for the DST Compressor Wedge come from?
I suppose the idea was developed as a result of my lifelong love affair with golf and an enquiring mind. I used to play professional golf until I suffered an illness which forced me to give up my playing career. I undertook what ended up being a three year study into the bio-mechanics of ball striking and began researching the best ball strikers in history. I became fascinated with what they were doing differently to hit the ball so solidly the whole time. I studied four people – Moe Norman, a Canadian guy who was not very well known who sadly developed autistic like behaviour after being struck by a car aged 5. He was golf’s “Rainman”, groups of tour pro’s used to stop their own practice routines just to watch “Pipeline Moe” hit balls, he was so accurate he had 17 holes-in-one and shot 59 three times in his career. Lee Trevino was another, he’s considered to be one of the best ball strikers of the modern era while Ben Hogan and George Knudson completed the group.
I read all their books and analysed their swings which were all different, but the common denominator was their impact positions! I then studied, The Golfing Machine by Homer Kelley, which was published in 1969. It was pretty heavy going but, reading between the lines of what he did and didn’t say, there were two profound points. One was that, "the secret of golf is sustaining the line of compression". So I thought I’d better understand what that was and use it as a starting point. The second thing was that, "in a swinging motion, your lead shoulder is the centre of the club head arc".
If these two things are fundamental to the golf swing, I recognised that I needed to work backwards from what’s critical. I worked out that the over-riding goal in the swing is to control the club face until after the ball has been struck. If you can do that, you can hit the ball consistently well. On the basis of that information, I felt that if I could create a golf club that could physically force players to control of the club face until after impact then their entire game would improve.
Then I saw a picture of Ben Hogan in his book, Five Lessons the modern fundamentals of golf. The front page illustration was drawn by a man called Anthony Ravielli showing Hogan at impact and in order to demonstrate that the shaft was moving quickly Ravielli drew the shaft multiple times. Importantly his hands were leading the club face through the ball at impact.
I was staring at this image one day and wondered what would happen if the grip stayed where it was and I connected it to where the last club head was…….. the shaft would be curved!!! That was the lightbulb moment. I thought if I could prove that a shaft develops this curvature when it’s under its maximum load during impact and I can make a club that replicates that shape, then I’ve cracked it.
Furthermore, my research shows that if a golfer starts from a position that closely resembles the optimal impact position, it reduces the number of complicated movements that the player has to undertake in the golf swing and also they can develop muscle memory to return to the same hand position through impact. This is what the best ball strikers in history did and continue to do. To quote Jack Nicklaus, Golf My Way “Remember that in your address position you are attempting to mirror your impact position."
I proved that a golf shaft does develop this curvature when under its maximum load during impact by capturing footage on a Phantom Camera which takes 10,000 frames per second. I then developed a machine which produces curved golf shafts. It took seven prototypes but the machine was finished last summer and the DST Compressor was born.
The curved shaft when coupled with the Hand Position Alignment Marker (HPAM) which is a line that runs at an angle down the front of the hosel forces a player to Locate Train and Perfect the optimal impact position and control the club face until after the ball has been struck. The concept works at address by aligning the HPAM with the leading groove on the club face, which are both painted white, this pushes your hands into a more forward position. where your lead arm and the club shaft are aligned with the lead shoulder. You start from this position and re-obtain it when you hit the ball – it’s that easy. It reflects the findings of how a large percentage of the best ball strikers in history became so consistent.
What makes the DST unique as a training aid? How is it different from the Tour Striker, for example?
The DST Compressor is unique because the scientifically curved shaft is designed to keep the club swinging on the inclined plane up to and through impact. The shaft is curved to replicate what happens to a regular straight steel shaft under maximum load at impact. The curved shaft will allow the player to better lean the shaft forward and keep their arms swinging left and on plane through impact. By doing so, the player will be squaring the club face up with their body and arm turn and not by using their hands; using your hands can lead to inconsistent strikes and a wide variety of shots. By squaring the club face up with a body/arm turn, the player will consistently hit straighter shots and have a much tighter dispersion pattern. The DST Compressor is different from the Tour Striker because the DST Compressor club not only helps a player with leaning the shaft forward at impact (like the Tour Striker), but it also helps a player learn how to properly pivot with their arms and body through impact. The Tour Striker does nothing for helping a golfer learn the proper pivot through impact. The Tour Striker club can be “cheated,” but the curved shaft of the DST Compressor club does not allow this to happen. The curved shaft will exaggerate the error in the swing, so the player will be guaranteed to know after each shot whether they made the proper swing or not. The DST Compressor also helps a golfer set up the exact same way every time at address by way of the Hand Position Alignment Marker (HPAM). Most golfers struggle with setting up the same way every time, so the HPAM is a huge advantage for golfers, as they will now have no excuse for not setting up the same way each time. By setting up the same way every time, the golfer can create a pattern with their swing, something that cannot be established if you do not set up the same way each time. The Tour Striker does not help with alignment. One of the major benefits of the DST Compressor in contrast to the Tour Striker, where the only feedback is provided by ball flight, is that with the DST Compressor you do not even have to hit balls to learn the proper move, you can simply make practice swing to realize the proper feel and achieve the benefits.
The training club looks like it exaggerates the hands forward; when I go back to my normal clubs will this affect my setup or swing?
We would prefer that you set up in the forward shaft lean position because we think that this will make your swing less complicated and give you a better chance to make an efficient and mechanically correct swing. That being said, you do not have to set up in that position, just realize that if you set up with the club coming out of the middle of your body, you will have to make additional moves in your swing to get to the forward shaft lean position, thus making your swing more complicated and harder to repeat. If you practice in the forward shaft lean position and then go back to your normal set up, you will still reap the benefit of practicing with the DST club, as you will have learned how to properly pivot your body and arms through impact, making you keep your arms on plane better through impact, allowing for you to hit more consistent straight shots.
You have 4 different clubs -- two wedges and two 8 irons -- what’s the purpose of the 2 clubs in each category? What is DST ultimately trying to accomplish?
The two models are the Compressor model (curved shaft) and the CR-10 model (straight shaft). The Compressor model is designed to teach the golfer to sustain the line of compression through impact (forward shaft lean) and to properly pivot the arms and body on plane through impact. The CR-10 model is a transition club that has the same Hand Position Alignment Marker on the hosel and the amended sole design as the Compressor model. This club is good for a player that has been using the Compressor club for a while and wants to transition back to his normal playing clubs. The CR-10 can also be used as a transition club for a golfer that may struggle with the curved shaft of the Compressor at first, by allowing the player to slowly work into the Compressor club by practicing with the straight shaft of the CR-10 and the HPAM.
What type of golfer will benefit the most from DST? How will they benefit?
The DST Clubs are designed to help all golfers. The geometry of the Optimal impact Position remains the same regardless whether you’re hitting a chip, pitch or full shot, or even whether you’re hitting a wedge or a driver. The only variable is the ball position. This means that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a tour pro or a weekend player (you have the same anatomy and therefore the same laws of physics, pivots and levers apply). The only difference is that tour pros use the DST Compressor to get a sense of confirmation of feelings and sensations. It helps them feel how to pivot through impact whilst the weekend player tends to use the DST Compressor as a learning tool and to understand physically what they are trying to achieve.
In short the pros already strike the ball pretty well and use it as a way to validate their swing whereas the average golfer tends to learn what position they need to be in to strike the ball properly. At this time, we have over 50 PGA and LPGA players practicing with the DST Compressor clubs and we have sold numerous clubs to the amateur public. Good impact position does not discriminate between talent levels. The impact position does not change whether you are a professional or a casual weekend golfer and whether you are hitting a full shot or a chip shot, the proper impact position does not change. Whether you have a solid impact position or you need to get one, the DST Compressor clubs will help you maintain or achieve your golfing goals.
The DST Compressor helps a golfer to set up to the ball in such a way that it simplifies the swing, it does this by pre-setting the players hands into a position that they want to closely replicate through impact. So it strips out a lot of unnecessary movements.
To be specific the DST Compressor helps the player align the main lever, (shaft and lead arm) with the centre of the club head arc (lead shoulder). This pre-sets the hands into a position that they want to closely replicate at impact by addressing the ball with forward shaft lean. This makes the take away a simple one piece moment. It also means that the player doesn’t have to get rid of a negative lag angle created by the lead wrist which is formed in a conventional address position. When the shaft points to the centre of the player body (their belt buckle)
The DST Compressor forces a golfer to undertake and feel the two most critical aspects in the swing. The first is to have a flat lead wrist through impact and experience a lag impact, the second is to have a straight-line plane line through impact. It achieves this because the shaft is curved and the tip end of the shaft wants to follow the path of least resistance which is the axis of the shaft under the grip, which points to a position which is 12cm ahead of the club face.
I’ve used this club extensively -- I’ve hit a ton of shanks, a ton of very short, very straight popups, and eventually some longer, very straight, very high shots. What do these different ball flights tell me about my swing? What’s the desired ball flight with the DST and how to I achieve it?
For players that do not have a consistent and proper impact position, there will be a transition time where they may not hit shots perfect at first because they are not use to being in the forward shaft lean position and squaring the club face up at impact with their body/arm turn. This different feel will at first cause some strange shots, but they will soon see more solid and consistent shots as they continually lean the shaft forward and pivot through impact properly. The best way to start using the DST club is to start with some half or three quarter shots, where the player concentrates on keeping the hands ahead of the club head through impact and swinging the arms left after impact.
If while doing this drill the golfer sees that they are hitting shots that pop up and go straight, they should focus on making the Hand Position Alignment Marker (HPAM) point towards the bridge of your nose at address and impact. If the shot is too high, then the HPAM is actually pointing towards your trailing shoulder, which means that you are early releasing the golf club.
The proper ball flight with the DST Compressor clubs is either dead straight or the slightest of draws. The more you preset the forward shaft lean at address, the more you would tend to see a bit of a draw. You can achieve this proper ball flight by continuing to practice with the DST Compressor clubs so that you will consistently keep the shaft leaning forward and your arms on plane at and through impact.
What kind of feedback have you had?
In the short space of time since our launch at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in late January we have more than 50 pros from the PGA, LPGA, European and Champions Tours, including 8 Major winners, and a group of top coaches using DST clubs in their practice and teaching routines.
At the PGA Merchandise Show itself two magazines were fulsome in their praise for DST Clubs, Golf Week featured us in an article entitled “Show Stoppers" and Golf Digest, featured us in their Top 12 Editors Picks from out of 1,100 exhibitors. Lastly the PGA of America featured us in their Best Gadget Video, we were the only training club in this piece.
Recently the PGAs of Europe requested that the DST Golf clubs be submitted for evaluation by their "Training and Education Committee”. After a two month process and having the clubs tested by the top coaches and Master Professionals from multiple PGAs across Europe, DST Golf is the first training club to be “Approved by the PGAs of Europe”
You may have also seen that in his warm up session prior to the final round of the World Golf Championship at Doral in Florida, Henrik Stenson gave a live televised interview on the Golf Channel from the range demonstrating the DST Compressor. It was his first start of the 2015 season and he went on to finish Tied 4th. A feat he accomplished yet again a week later at the Valspar Championship and most recently he finished 2nd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, due mainly to his superior ball striking. Several other players, including a former world number one, practise with them and it’s no exaggeration to say more than 40 members of the PGA Tour are using them; as well as more than 20 of the game’s leading instructors.
Frankly I didn't know where to start... A review about some curved training club? It's solid feeling, like, you can tell when you pick it up it's well made. It's obvious someone took the time to think out a really quality feeling product with a good grip and club head that wouldn't look out of place in your bag. There's no arguing that with its premium looks or feel, you would expect it to be good or to simply just work.
So how to start a review? Well, thankfully the cat didn't think it was important for me to be sleeping at 3am, leaving me time to be alone with my thoughts and then, it hit me...
People know I get to try a lot of products. They're always asking why they should get something, our not, and with the DST I find myself telling the same story.
Picture it: we're sitting on a patio after a round and someone starts talking about how they've got swing flaw X or they're constantly swing flaw Y'ing.
"You need to try the DST training club," I chime in.
That curved thing you were warming up with? Does it actually work?
"All I know is when my swing is off I hit half a bucket and I'm back on track"
"Well, because you can't lift up"
"So, it's designed to get your hands forward creating an ideal impact position, I end up dipping, sliding and flipping the club and boom, shank it"
Ok but how does it work? I've tried tour striker. Isn't it the same?
"It just seems to work for all the issues I've been trying to iron out since I started lessons last year. I was standing up on my backswing, a huge slide and a tenancy to flip"
And how does this help?
"You just can't do all those things and hit the DST. If your hands aren't forward you'll skull the damn thing. Its got a big old sole bounce that gets in the way. So when I'm at the range I focus closer on my swing points thanks to the DST. Maybe its purely a visual reminder of seeing what it looks like with your hands so far out there, the shaft bend and the face squared up."
So what do you do then with it?
"I start hitting balls and focus on that one piece takeaway and stopping at what I think is three quarter backswing. I make sure I don't lift up, turn and keep my head still so I'm not swaying off the ball."
Ok so how does the club help? Couldn't you just do that with any club?
"Well, now I've set a solid backswing, but from here I can't slide, or flip, or dip, or cast. You get the picture. At the top all I'm focusing on now is getting those hands out in front (for me it's getting that right shoulder straight under chin) and I have to turn, and not slide, 'cause I don't like the ball going dead right off the hosel."
Ok and then?
"Then I hear that beautiful click at impact and I'm hitting these wonderful 80 yard wedges all over that red flag. Or to the white one out at 140 since I've upgraded to the 8. Smaller head too so I feel like a superstar" (visualize my big grin)
"Like I say, I don't know if it's purely the visual aspect or 'reminder' but I set up knowing I need to achieve those things or it's not happening. You can't argue with the results. So does it work? I say yes. Should you buy one? I can't argue against it."
I then whip out an instagram of me and the DST after a little winter layoff and completely out of my groove. Back to my old habits so to speak and the DST exposes all my flaws.
They then laugh and the conversation usually ends with "You're ball striking was great, that's not how you were hitting them today"
For more information visit http://www.dstgolf.com/