Monday, 18 February 2008

The Latest Gadgets for Lost and Desperate Golfing Souls

I will go to almost any lengths to improve my game…

There’s an old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. I don’t subscribe to that view. Even after I played the best round of my life (which happened last year) I started tinkering with my swing because I knew it could have been even better. In many ways my pursuit of excellence is similar to Tiger Woods; leave no stone unturned, plan meticulously, seek the best advice, get the best team around you (my wife is very supportive), but unfortunately that’s where the similarities with Tiger Woods end.

My game is broken. Sometimes I can mend it and play half decent golf for a while, but more often than not it’s in a state of disrepair. I often describe my game as being between swings, it’s a bit like ‘being between jobs’, a euphemism for being unemployed or in the case of my swing, out of working order.

Even when things are going well, I cannot curtail the irresistible urge to give the next new swing aid a try in the hope they might go even better. So strong is this urge that I recently got on a plane to visit the world’s biggest golf show, The PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, in the hope of finding the next miracle cure for my golfing ills.

I was not disappointed. The show was awash with gadgets and gizmos, and even boasted a 10 minute, 100 U$ dollar teeth whitening while-u-wait booth. Apparently you’ll play much better with a ‘winning smile!’

Some of the best golf coaches in the United States were in attendance; David Leadbetter, Butch Harmon, Dr.Gary Wiren, Rick Smith, Jim McClean, Roger Fredericks and Dr. Joseph Parent to name a few. What I love about these fellas, is that you only have to ask them a question or make a practice swing and they will stop signing autographs and start instructing. They are as addicted to teaching as I am to learning this great game.

Rick Smith (until recently Phil Mickleson’s coach) was demonstrating a particularly novel training aid called the GyroSwing™ which has a gyroscope in the club head. As the club head moves, the gyroscope always tries to return it to ‘square’, forcing you to swing on plane. They are not out in the UK yet, but I’ll be getting my hands on one as soon as I can to see if it will save me shots. If it does you’ll be hearing about it here soon.

Another device that promised to save shots was the Eez-Read.

It is designed to help you read the perfect line for your putt every time. Instructions advise you to take 2 readings, one halfway to the hole and the other at the hole. Great, but there’s no graph paper and pen, and it doesn’t take into account the other variables you might want to consider. How long is the grass? Are you putting with or against the grain? Can you remember how to read a spirit level? What time does it get dark? How likely are you to line-up correctly and hit the ball with a smooth upstroke from the centre of the club face on the correct initial direction with the correct pace? If their next model could do that I for one would buy one like a shot!

Its clever designers made it flourescent so you can line up your final 6 footer for double bogey on the 18th whilst your playing partners are getting last orders in at the 19th.

At $14.95 + p&p ( it makes a nice, if expensive (and illegal) ball marker, but at the end of the day it’s just a spirit level. And if you want one of those then at least buy one that you can pretend is for putting up those shelves you’ve been promising your wife about for ages.

Sorry Eez-Read guys, I found this spirit level at for the princely sum of £2.49.

When all is said and done, it was voted Winner of the 2008 PGA Merchandise Show New Product Center Competition. In a show of a thousand exhibitors this came as a surprise to me. But what do I know? After all, I’m not even single figures yet!

Over the coming months I will be trying all manner of things in his quest to reduce my handicap to single figures (it’s gone from 24 to 13 in just over a year). If you have a training aid, an idea or an invention, or if you really think you can help save golfers shots then I want to hear from you. If it works it might even get a mention here. NearlySingleFigures can be contacted at his blog on or by email via

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