With the help of do-it-yourself training aids, you can work on your game in your own backyard or family room. Here, some local pros weigh in on their favorite gizmos.
David Young, Sleepy Hollow Country Club
“One of my first teachers used to say, ‘If it costs more than five bucks or needs batteries, it’s probably not good for you.’ Now that I have a learning center here with over $50,000 worth of electronics, I’ve sort of broken his rule. For home use, though, a putting track is good. It will get you into a good posture and iron out a decent path with enough repetitions. It’s good to feel where the putter needs to go path-wise.”
James K. Wahl, Whippoorwill Country Club
“I get people to swing a piece of cut-off garden hose. It creates a feeling of centrifugal force. You have to keep your body rotating or it will come up and slap you in the head. Same thing happens if you flip your hands. When you videotape something like that, it looks like the way a shaft reacts. If they can get the same feeling, it’s great.”
James Ondo, The Apawamis Club
“I am a big fan of the impact bag. It’s easy to use — you just hit it! It will quickly teach you how important it is to let your hands lead the club head through the swing. It’s also good for feeling how to square up your club face. It may not be high-tech, but it works.”
Brian Crowell, Glen Arbor Golf Club
“Lots of players — especially slicers — lose power when their elbows start moving around. To get the feel for where they should be during the swing, put a partially deflated volleyball or something that size between your elbows, then take some small, relaxed half-swings. Stay centered, turn properly, and use your normal wrist-hinge and forearm rotation.”
Frank Bensel, Century Country Club
“I use the Putting T-Bar all the time. It reminds me to keep everything connected — shoulders, arms, and hands — in a simple stroke. It also helps confirm the alignment of my body with the putter face for an accurate roll.”
Patrick Langan, Trump National Golf Club Westchester
“People think they’re lined up right, but most of the time they’re not. That’s where alignment sticks come in handy. You can pay $20 for them with a golf logo, or just $3 for fiberglass driveway markers at your favorite neighborhood improvement center, but they’re worth every penny. If you’re not set up right, you have to do something wrong to hit your target.”
If you’re a serious golfer, you know that continual short game practice is the key to a lower handicap. That’s why a practice green right outside your door may be the single best investment you can make in your game.
Advances in synthetic turf technology mean you can have a home green that withstands the elements, holds its color, and simulates the performance of a natural bent-grass putting green. Plus, you never need to water, fertilize, weed, or mow it! You can have a bunker or two, also, and even a permanent hitting station for pitches across your lawn to the green. It’s much easier — and less expensive — than you think.
Home Green Advantage has been building residential golf facilities since 1995 and owner Michael Lehrer says he has designed and completed more than 500 installations in Westchester and the metro area. He applies the same attention to detail and quality control to home-green installations as he does to the practice greens and tee lines he’s designed for dozens of area clubs — such as Baltusrol, Old Oaks, and Quaker Ridge — as well as at Golf Central, headquarters for the MGA and Met PGA.
Every range and golf club, public and private, has a pro shop fully stocked with the latest and greatest clubs, clothes, shoes, and accessories. They also have experts to help you buy just what you need for your game. You’ll also want to check out these golf retailers and club fitters.