Review: SkyPro

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

This is not your typical review. Instead of having a brief period to use the product I have had months with the SkyPro from late in the 2013 season.

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

In 2013

I was initially very excited about using the SkyPro. I took it to the range the afternoon that I bought it. At the time I didn’t have an iPhone but I did have an iPad. Actually it was an iPad 2 with a somewhat bulky case.

One of the first things that you need to do whenever you start or switch clubs is to calibrate the device. This involves putting your phone or iPad on the club face, touching and holding the sides of the screen and then rotating it around you. Even with an iPad 2 and a bulky case the calibration worked flawlessly correctly identifying my club every time.

I then started to hit shots with it. It was very exciting to see the data coming back. There were all these new things to look at. Club shaft lean at address, etc. my swings typically had a couple if warnings and I started to address them I saw things happening. Ball flight started changing, distance, contact etc. It was pretty exciting.

But there was a downside. I didn’t really know how to change certain things or really understand waft they meant. I had no drills or resources to dig deeper. Overall though the device worked as advertised.

Later on there was a glitch. I got an iPod Touch (5th generation). This thing had trouble even connecting to the sky pro at all. In the end I stopped using it with the iPod and just stuck to the iPad.

Fast forward

to now. I have an iPhone 5s and it works great with it. But until recently I still had the same issues regarding really knowing what the different things meant. I didn’t want to create bad habits but I did want to make the right kind of changes.

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An update changes everything

It’s really amazing what an update can do. And the latest update to SkyPro app really makes things great. Along with some new practice modes and tools, the best thing is clear explanations of what each thing being tracked is, what different numbers mean and video explanations from Michael Breed.

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The result is a true SkyPro. It’s feedback that really helps you improve and change your swing for the better. As we all know Michael us an exceptional teacher on the Golf Fix. But he makes each element of the swing that SkyPro measures, not only understandable, but allows to see how and why to change.

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And this is what SkyPro really needed. This is what separates it from everything else. At the end of the day we want to get better. Understanding what to do and why in a clear way makes all the difference. Based on this latest update SkyPro has become my go to practice, training and learning aid. I have not yet tried the new putting feature, but that will come in a future review.

Zen Chili Rating for Sky Pro

5 Zens out of 5

• Immediate feedback you can use
• Groove make practice easy
• Michael Breed explains things clearly

5 Chilis out of 5

• Light, it does not affect club weight
• Easy to charge
• Connects to iPhone easily
• Calibration is easy on iPhone, but a little challenging on iPad
• Useful for full swing, and putting (to be reviewed later)

To learn more about the rating system click here.

New DVD available with the Taly Mindset

There’s a new video that now comes with the Taly Mindset.  The opening credits, certainly set the stage.

The Taly Mindset is a device that challenges conventional thinking in golf.  It was invented by an engineer who loved the game of golf and wanted to play better. You can read my full review here. The device is now used by many touring pros and teaching pros across the country.  One of the most famous teachers who routinely uses the Mindset to teach is Lynn Blake.

The DVD is a big improvement over what used to come with the Mindset.  Although the pamphlet the came with it before gave some indication as to how it should be used, it really was not detailed enough and left questions unanswered.  It left it up to the golfer through trial and error to figure out what to actually do and how to do it.

The new DVD answers the questions that every golfer needs answered when using the Taly Mindset.   If you can understand the thought that went into the development of the Taly Mindset then you can learn to use it effectively.  And it will change the way you approach golf.

I found the DVD gave me new insights to really understand how to use the mindset.  There is a lot more to it than the pamphlet covers the DVD is an excellent complement to the device.

The new DVD comes with purchases of the Taly Mindset for $89.99 or can be ordered from the Taly Store for $49.99. If you have a a Taly Mindset, I highly recommend the video.  Taly Williams is offering a discount to Taly Mindset owners.  They can use the coupon code “MYDVD” when checking out at the Taly Store.

Tour Striker – Day 3 of 30 – a plan comes into focus

This morning I headed to the driving range early.  Got there around 6:50 am, got set up and hit balls into the foggy morning.

I was encouraged by my practice session on Monday evening.  This morning it was a slightly different story.  I hit a couple of toppers which right away told me that I had too little shaft lean.  When I corrected that I hit a number of low flat stingers.  The balls took off low, stayed lower than 30 yards high and carried about 175 yards into the fog.  They felt solid.

I decided to reach out to Martin Chuck, the inventor of the Tour Striker to tell him about this month long test with his product as well as to get some advice on how best to take advantage of the time.

Based on his suggestions I will be working on the following over the next 30 days.

Tour Striker Practice Game Plan

1. Learn how to let the club land with forward lean. Do this with both hands and with each hand individually.
2. Monitor where you are touching the ground with hands together and individually. Seek to get similar results with the club landing inside the left heel.
3. Hit some “9 to 3” shots trying to get the leading edge of the TS as close to the ground as possible. Keep the left arm on the upper chest, don’t chase the target line.
4. Get use to anticipating the “thud” of touching the ground, not smashing, just touching.
5. Take this “9 to 3” into fuller swings with a focus on balance and rhythm.

I plan to take about a week with each of these guidelines (give or take a few days).

Low Flat Bombs

The exciting thing about hearing from Martin was that to cure my low flat bombs I need just a touch more shaft lean.  So things are not that far off.  All in all it was an encouraging session.  I had a lot of very solid strikes and my distance control feels somewhat more consistent.

I’ll be working to add that little bit extra shaft lean and see what happens with these low flat bombs.

Review: Vharness

The Vharness is a swing trainer with the goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro.  The Vharness is endorsed by Rocco Mediate, who I think is a brilliant spokesperson for this product because of how well heconnects with average golfers.  He looks like a guy in your foursome.  But of course he has tremendous game.  His performance at Torrey Pines in the US Open made him a household name.  He plays what seems to be off the shelf game improvement clubs.  He doesn’t have the fluid easy motion of a Fred Couples, or the power of JB Holmes or Bubba Watson.  These reasons though make him ideal as a representative of this product because he, of all tour players, looks the most like an average Joe, and almost everybody can relate to him.

So does the Vharness achieve it’s lofty goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro?  No, but it is an excellent swing trainer, and if used effectively especially with some guidance from an instructor it can really help the average golfer to feel their swing better.  Frankly I don’t think there is a single device that can teach anyone to swing like a pro.  Swinging like a pro requires coordination, talent, strength and flexibility.  Provided you have those things, with a good instructor and dedication you can learn to swing like a pro.  What I did find is that the Vharness can enable you to not only create a better swing, but really feel what it feels to swing better.

I have a number of swing trainers in my collection, and they all fulfill different purposes.  I’ve been using the Vharness for about a month.  I wanted to give it a full test before I wrote about it.  The Vharness is definitely different from my other swing trainers.  It gives me feedback that I never got from anywhere else and really helped me to understand and feel my swing better.  It almost acts as a sensation amplifier and you really feel what the club head, path and hands are doing.

One of the main objectives of the Vharness is to help you feel more connected. There are a number of ways to feel more connected that I’ve seen routinely taught. Most commonly is tucking a golf glove under one or both armpits depending on how you are trying to feel the connection. Recently we have been watching players like Sean O’Hair and Justin Rose tuck their sleeves into their armpits. Both are effective ways of feeling the connection.

The Vharness approaches this concept from a different point of view.  Instead of feeling the connection through your armpits as in the other techniques you keep it by by focusing on keeping the “vcords” taut.  As you do your body naturally becomes more connected.  It feels like it is a less tense way of feeling it.

Zen Chili Rating for The VHarness

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves several aspects of the golf swing almost automatically
• Provides great feedback and sense of connection
• Delivers results

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well constructed, should last for years
• Easy to use and works with all of your golf clubs
• Comes with a stylish carrying case

But the Vharness takes it a few steps further. It naturally creates more width in the swing and keeps your hands more in front of you preventing you from getting stuck.  One of my major flaws in my swing is getting stuck.  Working with the vharness, this is dramatically improved, and with it so has my distance and accuracy.  The great thing about it for me, is that it really worked with the things I’ve been learning and working on, and it provides excellent feedback.

When ordering the Vharness you’ll be asked some questions to have it properly sized for your your height and your clubs.  I find that it fits well on all clubs.  It is very easy to transfer from one club to the next and allows you to use it with all your clubs.  The more I use the Vharness the more I enjoy using it.  Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it too.

Learn more about it on their website.

Use your left knee to generate a powerful on plane swing

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Sounds weird doesn’t it?  How does the left knee (for a right handed golfer) play a role in a powerful on plane swing?

The answer lies in how it affects two key characteristics of an on plane swing.

1) Spine Tilt

2) Balance

Spine Tilt

Having the right amount of spine tilt and in the right direction is hugely important to coming down on plane.  Maintaining the tilt of your spine slightly away from the target through out the swing is very important for coming down on plane.  The reason is that you turn around your spine on the downsing.  If the angle that your spine is tilted changes, how you rotate around it changes as well, and since the golf swing is a rotational motion that change is dramatic.

Think of a spinning top.  When it’s spinning nicely it’s straight up and down, but as it slows down it starts to wobble.  That wobble is what happens to your swing plane when you lose your spine angle.

Once you start to wobble, it becomes very difficult to swing on plane.  The wobble forces compensations and your swing loses its plane.

2) Balance

A problem that I have had is leaning into the ball on my downswing.  It has been greatly minimized recently but it creeps in here and there.  The problem is that my weight begins to move toward the ball and when that happens, the only to hit the ball is to come outside-in.  However, when I focused on my left knee, keeping it still (but flexed), then the problems of moving my weight toward the ball were gone.  This allowed me to drop the club into the “slot” and make a powerful move into and through the ball.

You don’t need to reshaft to lower your spin rate

So an interesting thing happened the other day.  I popped into my local club builder because I had been thinking of switching out a shaft in a driver and I needed to a pick up a three wood that was going to go into Adams for repair.

We started talking about why I wanted to change the shaft in the driver and before I knew it I was on the launch monitor hitting some balls.

He looks at my swing and starts making some suggestions about releasing the club.  Lo and behold my spin rate drops from a high of 5000 (the average was closer to mid 3k), down to an all time low for me of 1758.  Same club and same shaft.   Wow!

On the launch monitor that equated to a baby draw (from a fade) and about 60 yards more distance.

I’ve started to practice this and I’ve finally figured out how to release the club.  The results from my home simulator are that my club head is coming into the ball much more square or even a degree or two closed, path from the inside, and club head speed is going up.  And it all results in some nice draws or pretty much dead straight shots.  Pretty good results so far.  I can’t wait to see how they translate on the course.

I was having trouble releasing because my left elbow wasn’t folding easily after impact.  Once I isolated that and concentrating on having that happen the release happened naturally.  It seems to really be giving me some nice pop.

Observations from today’s round

I am pretty happy with the progress I’m making.  My handicap is steadily going down, my consistency in scoring is much better, and my swing feels like it’s on solid ground.  Some things to still bug me.

I don’t get up and down enough.  I know that I have to improve my short game.  I need to leave short game shots close enough to easily one putt but it’s tricky.  This is my next challenge.  I feel like I’m plateauing around the 79-81 range.  And yet walking off the course I know where I left shots on the table.  Today I had an 81, which is one under for my course handicap so again, it was a solid round.  Although I do feel it could easily have been 4 or 5 strokes better.

I had a thought that was helpful on the golf course today. The image of the inner workings of a clock, seeing all the gears moving, synchronized, no one gear speeding up.  It seemed to keep me much more synchronized and helped with the long game.  I had a really good driving day and I had a lot of good shots.  It does get to me when I have a wonderful tee shot, and a bad approach shot.  It’s a nice drive wasted and it drives me crazy.  I had two of those, with the approach shots coming up way short (I had enough club but actually hit the ball fat).  I’m pretty sure that is just a mental game thing.

A couple of things were interesting.  I really felt comfortable driving the ball, and I also felt really comfortable with my fairway woods.  I’m not sure why that was but it was nice.  On 18 I hit my drive off the toe but still got it out with pretty good distance and in the fairway.  I had about 230 up hill and I hit a nice 4 wood, pin high, but in the rough on the left side of the green.  I ended up 1 putting for a par 5 but could easily have had a birdie if I had chipped it close.

I burned the edge on so many putts today.  Had a few of those gone in it could have been a stellar round for me.  I realized that I was reading 1″ too much break on each putt.  I didn’t correct that until the 17th hole but it made a difference once I figured that out.

A good fall round

Another fall round today.  Actually, it’s my first time on the course since last week.  Anyway I posted a 79.  I hit 6 GIR, 9/14 Fairways and had 32 putts.  Not a bad score considering only 6 GIR.  I shot par for my course handicap so I’m pretty happy with the score.  I didn’t make any birdies though which was disappointing.

Overall I was pretty happy with my ball striking today.  I had a couple of bad chips and a few bad putts, but as I said I felt I scored well, all things considered.  I had a few errant drives, and although I hit some fades I didn’t have any big slices.  I basically kept the ball in play and recovered from a couple of miscues.  I know that I need to hit more greens.  That will definitely lower my scores. I crushed a few drives but I’m still not sure the driver fits me totally, but it’s kind of too late in the season to change it up.

On the 9th hole, a very short par 3, I hit sand wedge from 109 yards.  I landed the ball pin high (then pin was about 10 feet from the front of the green), then spun it back to about 10 feet off the green (for a total spin back of about 20 ft).  That’s what happens when you’ve been playing a low spin ball and decide to switch to a tour ball.  Way too much spin.  I only needed some controlled spin and it just over spun on me.  Oh well, at least I got up and down for par.

Simulator up and running

So I finally setup the simulator.  This will be my practice “facility” for the winter.  I will get actual rounds on course when the weather cooperates.

The nice thing about the simulator is that it tells me a few keys stats about my swing.  It tells me the swing path (inside out, straight or outside in and by how many degrees).  It also tells me whether the club face is square at impact or how many degrees closed or open it is, and it tells me my club head speed at impact.

In my practice session today I have confirmed through hard numbers that indeeed the over the top move is basically history.  9 out of 10 swings where either coming in straight or from the inside.  10 percent were coming in from the outside but only by 3 degrees, which is not too bad at all.

The one thing I did notice consistently which bugged me is that on 8 out of 10 swings my club face was open.  Most of the time it was open less than 8 degrees (which is still too much), but every once in a while I’d get one open 12 degrees or more.  Really annoyed me.  On a 160 yard shot, 12 degrees open face will send the ball 12 yards right of target.  This is something I will definitely work on.  I want the club head coming in square, or maybe even a degree or two closed through impact, with an inside out swing.

Full Release

With the over-the-top issue a thing of the past it is time to improve other parts of my swing.

Today I tried something while practicing that led to an eye opening experience.  I decided to try to create a fuller release.

I recorded  two swings with the first one being my normal swing and second being a full release swing.  The full release swing looked much better.  It encouraged me to get wider in back and in trying to create a fuller release it ended up creating effortless power.  It didn’t take any more effort to create a fuller release, but when I played back the videos I was startled by how much more club head speed the full release swing seemed to be generating.  I didn’t have a launch monitor handy so I took an old fashioned approach and counted up the frames for the downswing.

The regular down swing took 7 frames.  The full release took 5.  And yet I wasn’t trying to swing faster.  All I was focusing on was making a full release and the speed generated was effortless.  I need to see what this does on the range but I was definitely surprised.