Saturday, 31 December 2016

Swingyde Training Aid

I've always been a sucker for a training aid. Many have been flash in the pan that have promised much and delivered little and have been consigned to a dark corner in my golf room (yes I know I have too much golf stuff, and yes the wife does keep nagging for me to a) tidy and b) de-clutter).

I have come across the Swingyde (The Swingyde Website) which is a simple plastic device that sits on the club and is designed to get the club in the right position and hinged properly to create better accuracy and power.

The Swingyde
I wasn't actually looking at trying any training aids. However I came across a video from Dan Whittaker on Youtube (Dan Whittaker - Swingyde Review) which was a glowing testament about it. He's usually very reluctant to be too overflowing with praise for products and it has to be really work, especially in a lesson environment for him to rate it. This one is a definite hit.

It's not cheap for what it is at around £25 and there are many, many cheaper versions out there although I'd be wary of these as they have reputations for being very flimsy especially when being used on full swings, and can snap getting it on and off the club. I'd definitely suggest buying from a recognised retailer.

So what's it all about and does it work? As I've hinted, it's all about ensuring a proper take away and hinge. Too quick and too inside and the cradle will miss the left arm (for a right handed golfer) to the inner part of the arm and too far outside the line and it'll miss the outside of the arm. The Swingyde does come with an band, which I'm not keen on and will look a bit naff come the warm, shirt sleeve weather, placed on the wrist. Fortunately, it's winter and the cradle rests on my top layer without irritation.

The Swingyde in the ideal set position
I tend to take the club away very quickly and have had tendencies in the past to fan the club open. Tempo has always been an issue but on the two range sessions I've used it on, I worked hard on half swings, without hitting balls, to ensure I took it away nicely and the cradle sat properly. From there, I needed to take it up to the top and then turn back into impact properly. To start with, when hitting balls (with an 8 iron) I was still very fast and the cradle missed, usually on the inside and it forced me to slow down, and ensure I took it back far straighter and smoother. It's a device that takes a little time to get use to and working properly.

I have a habit of swinging too far and my club extends beyond parallel, usually as the club gets longer, especially with driver, but one thing I felt, and I've not filmed any swings, so feel vs real may be two different things, is that the swing is more compact. It has felt there are a lot fewer moving parts, especially going back. I seem to have more time to into impact. I feel the contact has improved. My distance, while hard to gauge on a range, on a cold dark evening, with cold range balls, felt better. However, the dispersion left and right definitely improved.

The second session was a lot better. I'd been struggling with my driver. I was reticent to use it on the big dog, but decided that nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was very interesting. I still had a left to right shape, something that had been haunted me on the course, but instead of being a destructive slice had turned into a smooth controlled fade, something I could play with on a course. The good ones, the ones out of the middle, were arrow straight and a much higher, penetrating flight. This was pleasing.

I played on Christmas Eve and as part of my pre-shot routine I was focused on feeling that I was getting a good hinge position halfway back and then trust it. I hadn't played in three weeks and my form before then was patchy at best. I only had thirty points, but that in a large putt was due to a stone cold putter. There were several really wild shots, large push slices and I felt these were caused by coming too far inside and fanning the club. It was very apparent however that by using the Swingyde every day for five-ten minutes it is easy to feel  the correct position and that over time, it'll be possible to "feel" that more and more on the course. I also think part of my problems when I played stemmed from trying to feel the correct hinge on the actual shot and therefore thinking about it too much as I hit the ball. Feel it in the practice swing and then trust it.

So how do I rate it?

Size - it is relative compact and would sit easily in the clothing/side pocket of either a carry or cart bag to take to the range for a practice session. 7/10

Durability - it's made of plastic and so I guess there will always be a degree of vulnerability but I'm told it's far more durable than the cheaper copies on the market especially around the area where the bolt and wing nut fix the Swingyde to the club. With normal care and attention I can't see why it can't last and last. 6/10

Functionality - if you've watched the Dan Whittaker video at the top of this review, you'll see that he, as a reputable teaching professional, rates it highly and states he uses it on a regular basis and that in his opinion does the job it's designed to. From my own far perspective, as a mid-handicapper, it's really easy to use (once correctly placed on the club). It really does do what it's intended to and it works. It simply does and if you take the time to work at it in slow motion and feel the right way to take the club back and set it properly you can really feel the proper position to get into. Over the ball you'll feel the swing is more compact and the sequence from the top, into the transition and then impact works far better. 9/10

Instructions - The packaging was pretty poor and the instructions inside were pretty sparse and fairly confusing. There is a DVD, but it's poor quality and outdated and serves no real function. The website isn't that much better. However, the Swingyde is simple to use in it's basic form. The one thing that does need to be done with care, is fixing it onto the club. It has to be correctly aligned or it will give a false tale. It has to be lined perfectly straight and again Dan Whittaker shows perfectly how it should be done. The instructions doesn't explain this satisfactorily. 2/10

Overall - As a training aid, this one is right up there. It works. It's as simple as that. Not only that, but it's a device with longevity. As I mentioned at the very start, I've had my fair share of devices, many of which boasted more than they delivered. This one, simple as it is, has one aim, to get a golfer into the correct position in the back swing. It does this and does this well. It's already made a difference. I need to keep working with it, although this only needs 5-10 minutes repetition per day. I can see this making a difference to my swing, and alongside my lessons with Andrew Piper, will hopefully set me in good stead for the 2017 season. I would heartily recommend the Swingyde. 9/10

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