Monday, 1 January 2018

Product Review - Puttout Training Aid & Putting Mat

Welcome to the first blog of 2018. Happy new year to one and all and I wish you and your family a fantastic year and may all your golfing ambitions come to fruition. I'm starting with a product review (the clue is in the title!) and this looks at the Puttout training aid and the accompanying mat.

I was lucky enough to receive one of the training aids to review by Puttout and a big thank you to Patrick and Charlotte for sending this and giving me the opportunity. As always, there is a video review of the products and you can see both in operation and you can check out my Youtube review here (Puttout Review).

There is also a chance to enter the competition to win a Puttout training aid. Not a bad way to start the year and it's open to anyone, so even if you're not in the UK, please feel free to enter and I'll make sure you get it wherever you are in the world.

Lets start then with the training aid. There are a myriad of putting aids out there. However, I firmly feel this is one of the most innovative, and more importantly one of the few that actually match expectations and improve the putting stroke, particularly in terms of feel.

It is a compact design and folds up nice and small and fits inside any golf bag and could be used at the golf club, at home or in an office. On the base are a number of sharp plastic spikes that ensure the Puttout will sit on any carpet or on the putting green and stay in place.

The Puttout Training Aid - small enough to be taken anywhere
So what is it? Well in simple terms, it consists of a hole sized rubber base and a parabolic ramp. This ramp will only accept a ball struck on line and at a reasonable speed and will throw off any that are not quite on line or hit too hard. It works in a simple but effective manner too. The ball will travel up the ramp and the distance it returns towards you represents the distance past the hole the ball would have gone.

I've added a link to a video from Puttout which will show in more detail (and far better than I can) how it came to be and what it's all about. It's well worth a view - Puttout Video

Now if you are like me and struggle at times from six feet and beyond to control the pace of putts and can often run the ball a troublesome distance beyond the cup and leave a tester coming back (three putt hell) then this device is perfect for learning and ingraining distance control. Depending on who you listen to, the optimum distance to get the ball past the hole to give it the best chance of going in is 12-18 inches and so by using the Puttout regularly you can train a stroke that gets the ball returning down the ramp that ideal distance. You can see that in the video.

However the Puttout is more than a one trick device. There is a plastic insert in the ramp that can be pushed down to leave a circular gap. This allows you to challenge yourself and your friends to make the perfect putt, which is one at the correct speed and line at which the ball will run up the ramp and nestle in the hole and stay there. Trust me, this is not as simple as it sounds. The video below shows you exactly what I mean

So there you go, two training devices within one aid. Let me do what I always do and give it marks out of ten in a number of categories

The Puttout has very sleek looks. It's compact and clean in its design. There is nothing superfluous or unnecessary. The hole in the ramp that can be used for the perfect putt or slotted back if you are simply using the slope to work on pace, slots back and forth and nestles in the base securely and out of sight. 9/10

The Puttout is light but is robust. The plastic in the ramp is strong enough to take being in the golf bag and the hole sized rubber at the end is firmly attached. There are very few components and it's designed simply but effectively. 8/10

Cost & Availability
The Puttout come is at under £20 and is widely available at American Golf, a host of other outlets and is widely available online. The cost isn't prohibitive and there are far more expensive and less effective aid out there. 8/10

As I said very early on, this is one of the best indoor practice aids for putting I have used. I don't say that easily, nor have I any endorsement or association with Puttout and as always, these reviews are an independent mid-handicappers viewpoint. It is excellent, and is intuitive and simple to use and gives instant feedback on the pace (and line of the putt). With regular use, its easy to develop improved distance control. When you fold the insert down and aim for the perfect putt, this feedback is enhanced as it really is only the ideally hit putt that will roll up and stay in the hole. 10/10

As I've hinted, there are many putting aids out there (many of which I have probably dabbled with) but a lot are short lived and are used diligently in the first few weeks and then consigned to a dusty corner. With the Puttout being so compact and easy to set up, and so easy to use, it makes it very simple to get out and work on the stroke for a while each evening. I take mine to the bedroom while the wife watches the soaps on TV and do thirty minutes while the programme is on. A little and often really will work wonders and it's something I can see myself going back to again and again. 9/10

The Puttout has hit the market to rave reviews and has been immensely popular. If you use social media you'll see many posts with happy golfers (and often their families) using it. As training aids go, this is one that has made a big impact very quickly and if you haven't seen one yet, or better still tried one, then you are missing out. It is small, well priced and more importantly works. That's a rare combination. 10/10

I haven't finished yet. As well as the Puttout training aid, thy have now released a putting mat to sit alongside. Now let me be perfectly honest and upfront, I am not a huge fan of mats. I find many, crease up and make it hard to make a decent putt, many are either way too slow or run at an Augusta pace that is unrealistic. Many are poorly made and fray or fall apart.

I was given the Puttout mat as a Christmas present and was a little wary based on my previous experiences. It comes in two colours, a traditional green version and a stylish slate grey colour. It's not small, and gives you a chance to putt up to six feet and so with an additional area behind this, it comes in at around eight feet in length and so it is something you may need to bear in mind. Indeed, the only two places I can really use it comfortably are the hallway or the bedroom.

The mat itself comes inside a robust cardboard tube and that sits inside an handy carry case. Puttout say the tube and design of the mat means it is a case of simply rolling it out and start putting. I've found that while it does roll neatly out from its rolled up form, it does need a quick walk over to flatten it down properly

The Puttout mat comes neatly packed. Ideal for simple storage
The tube and bag does make it very simple to store and sit out of the way. Again, this has been a bugbear of other mats and they've often not rolled or folded away compactly and always seem in the way. This takes very little time to roll out and then simply rolls up again, sits inside the cardboard tube and inside the bag. The base is made of sturdy rubber and I've had the mat on a tiled floor and carpet and it has sat in place on both.

The mat can be used in either direction. There is a mark in the centre where the Puttout training device can be situated, but if used the other way, there is an end section, box shaped where you can simply work at stroking the ball into to work on feel.

It is however when putting towards the training aid that the mat is at its best. There are alignment lines to the side where you can set up and work on the basics and ensure the club, body and shoulders are all in the correct place.

The Puttout mat - it offers a chance to make putts up to six feet in length
Puttout are saying that the mat runs at the equivalent of 10 on the stimpmeter and to my mind that is fairly representative of a good speed of the greens at the majority of members clubs around the country. Of course there will be those that have greens that are quicker and slower but as an average I think it's pretty good. I happen to think their judgement is also fairly accurate having used it over the festive period and tried it on the practice green at my own club.

There are clearly defined distances laid out on the mat at intervals from a foot up to six feet away so it is perfect for developing a perfect stroke and more importantly the perfect feel from a variety of distances. I have done a review on another product, the No 3 Putt (No 3 Putt Review) which is a device I use on the practice green at my club and has been in my bag for many years now, and I have said that repetition breeds confidence and I feel when using the No 3 Putt and now the Puttout that I can play on the course and have great belief in my stroke and feel and can stand over a putt reliant on the work I've put in and simply focus on a good line and trust my stroke. Putting with such freedom, and devoid from too many thoughts makes a big difference.

Let me finish by giving you my thought on the Puttout putting mat.

This mat bucks the trend of many and is well constructed. It has an excellent rubber base that really works well on most floor surfaces. The material on top seems well made and the markings on it are clear and well laid out. 7/10

This is both a benefit and a hindrance for the Puttout mat. It is excellent in offering the golfer a chance to work on putts up to six feet in length which is something many other mats on the market don't do, and given that there are increments every foot, it offers a chance to work on many different putts. However, being so long, and with the rest of the mat at either end, it does come in at around eight feet in length. This could be restrictive for many. I would have liked to use it in the comfort of my front room but without moving the coffee table each time I can't. Pedantic? Maybe but it's definitely a consideration that needs thinking about. 7/10

As I said at the outset, putting mats and I haven't always got on. However this one really does feel different and when used in conjunction with the Puttout training aid comes together to present a really a potent practice combination. The mat runs at a good and realistic speed. The mat doesn't seem to crease or fold in use. There is a number of training modes over and above using the aid that the lines present. It's one of the better mats out there. 8/10

Let's be upfront, this mat isn't cheap. It comes in at about £70 (ok £69.99) and while there are some models out there that are even more expensive, there are also cheaper offerings. Whether that cheaper price comes with compromised quality is a different discussion. I feel that the price of the Puttout is realistic for what you get for the money and is fairly priced. 6/10

Storage & Set Up
The Puttout mat comes in a handy carry bag and is stored within a sturdy cardboard tube and it really does make it easy to store out of the way when not in use. It does simply roll out into place and doesn't need a lot of effort (or a host of books or weights) to ensure it is flat and ready to go. 9/10

The mat is sturdy enough and I think you'll need to have a putting regime similar to Jordan Spieth to wear it out quickly. It is well made and designed to last. With the Puttout training aid being fiendishly addictive in its own right, when used with the mat it's a potent combination and one I have been using on a daily basis. It has a good speed and allows me to work on a variety of distances. Whisper it quietly but I may finally have found a putting mat that I can and will use on a regular basis and not lose interest in a few weeks. 8/10

I make no bones of not being a huge putting mat fan based on previous experience. This Puttout mat is different. As a stand alone mat it would be a reasonable practice aid but add the Puttout aid and the mat really comes into its own. Price and length could be two negatives and so you'll need to decide if you have the budget and room to use this. However as it can be used on most surfaces there should be somewhere you can roll it out and get to work on your stroke. The mat is easy to roll out and put away, and is easy to store. I have found it functional and effective in the short time I've had it and can see no reason why I won't continue to keep doing so. 8/10

Sorry it's a long one to start the year but as always with these independent, mid-handicap reviews I want to give you comprehensive and honest opinions on each product to help you decide if it is something you would consider buying and using. I make no apologies for that. I hope you find this one (and all the others) useful. If I am being honest, the Puttout training aid is a great product and as a stand alone is a worthwhile purchase, but, I do feel the Puttout mat is a decent product and together provide a very pleasing duo.

Thank you for your support in 2017 and especially to those that took the trouble to watch the video links I've included. I am keen to make my Youtube channel (please take a look here - Three Off The Tee Youtube) a really interactive place, and hopefully provide some content you enjoy, and more importantly want to you to respond to. I want to be grow it and as I do be able to offer some great opportunities and giveaways. If you have watched the video review already don't forget to thumbs up the video and comment to enter the free draw to win a Puttout training aid.

Please help to make it a bigger and better place in 2018. Many thanks for your support.