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.

Review: Powerchute

Powerchute
Powerchute

For the past month I’ve worked with a swing trainer called the Powerchute. I’ve given it an extensive test and the results are in.

What is the Powerchute?

It’s a swing training aid that aims to increase clubhead speed and lag, and improve timing and lag. In addition it strengthens the fast twitch muscles.

You attach the powerchute to your club and it becomes a small sail, that uses the wind created by your swing as the resistance you swing against. I was skeptical at first. I watched the videos on the website and Jack Nicklaus using it and I was still skeptical. It wasn’t until I took my first few swings with the powerchute, and then without it, that the wow factor hit me.

The first swing after you take the powerchute off your club is an amazing. The club feels lighter. The backswing feels normal, and then you start your downswing. My first swing without the Powerchute was so fast that it threw me almost off balance.

After using the Powerchute for a few months now, my old weakness: driving, has turned into a strength. Working with the powerchute daily has really helped with that trouble spot for me. I find that I’ve developed much better sequencing, even better lag, but more importantly I am able to use that lag properly. The resitance from the Powerchute has forced me to use my body and my hands properly to finish the swing correctly.

Over the last few months, the Powerchute has become my favorite swing trainer. I really enjoy heading down to the basement, where I have my golf practice area setup, to make some Powerchute swings. I feel that not only am I practicing solid fundamentals, but I am developing good golf fitness, and in the right muscles.

I can honestly say that the more I use the Powerchute, the more I want to use it. I’ve found new uses for it to help my game overall. It really is the only swing trainer I use now.

Golf Fitness

Now, to the fitness part of the powerchute. I’ve been told that the Powerchute, strengthens the fast twitch muscles that you use in the golf swing. These are the muscles needed to generate speed and power. The Powerchute achieves this by providing a plyometric workout. What are plyometrics? The following is from Wikipedia.

“Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric exercises may also be referred to as explosive exercises.”

The golf swing is all about controlled explosive power. It requires finesse, touch, feel, and power. Plyometric training is a perfect fit for golf. A friend of mine trains using Kettle Bells to achieve this, and he happens to be a director of golf so I know that those are great exercies for golf.

I do find that the Powerchute provides a plyometric workout and a very good one at that. The faster you can swing with the powerchute, the more resistance you create, and the more you work out those fast twitch muscles.

Zen Chili Rating for Powerchute

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves power, lag. sequencing and fitness virtually automatically
•No need to think about it, swing it, feel it

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well made product that can take a beating. Ingeniously designed.

At first I found I struggled when I switched from Powerchute swings, to iron swings. They felt too fast. Over the past few months everything that’s gone into the driver has also gone in to improve my iron play.

Conclusion

The Powerchute has been amazing to work with. I was so skeptical at first, but it has improved my power with all clubs, my balance, and my fitness. I have zero hesitations about recommending it. It is worth every penny.  Check it out at: http://www.powerchutegolf.com/

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 gets me back on track

If you’ve played golf with me in the past month you would have known that my ball striking has put me in a bit of a slump.  My distance control was off, and my shots were coming up short.

In a few minutes the Tour Striker brought my ball striking back.  An hour and half and two buckets of balls later, I’m feeling much better about my ball striking.  The difference is dramatic.

Sadly, before this session I was having trouble hitting my 8 iron 150 yards.  It was extremely frustrating.  This afternoon, my 8 iron was a much more respectable 165-170 average carry, with several carrying 175-180.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.

I knew I was on the right track when I started to hit what some low bullets with the Tour Striker.  These bullets went no higher than about 30 feet, but they carried about 200 yards.  The Tour Striker pro that I use is the equivalent of an 8 iron, so that’s some serious contact.  In an earlier conversation I had with Martin Chuck, the inventor of the Tour Striker, he assured me that when I’m hitting those low bullets, it means I’m very close to excellent contact, just millimeters away from perfection.  He’s right.

Shortly after the those low bullets, with a minor adjustment I began to hit them high, super high and solid, and they just carried forever.  It felt so good after this past month of less than perfect ball striking.

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.

Video showing Taly – eliminating the flip

I came across this video on YouTube and I wanted to share this.  For those of you who read the review of the Taly Mind Set, I wanted to provide a real world scenario of how it used to help golfers improve their swings.  In this video Lynn Blake, the famed TGM teacher (The Golfing Machine), has a clinic and each student has a Taly Mind Set.  Take a look at how he teaches and what he teaches.  It is simple but effective.  Similar to the drill I talk about in the article on achieving left wrist supination.

Enjoy and of course let me know if you have any questions about this.

Review: Taly Mind Set

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Update: A new DVD is available with the Taly Mindset.  Read more about that here.

The Taly Mind (Taly) set surprised me.  When I first opened the package and pulled out the training aid, the pamphlet, advertising post card, and a whiffle ball I was excited to start using it.  However when I read the instructions I found them a bit wordy and overly technical.  I think the average golfer would greatly served with a clearer guide or even a DVD to help them get started using the device.

Taly Williams, the inventor is an engineer and it shows in that document.   I was a bit confused about what it was designed for because there is so much information packed into one page.  So I went to talk to a PGA pro about this device and the way he described it made all the pieces fall into place.

The most obvious use of the device is in helping a golfer to stop flipping the club at or before impact.  This common fault causes golfers to hit weak shots to the right.  When a golfer executes this distance robbing move, what they are actually doing is adding loft to the club, and opening the face.  The end is result is weak hit that flies higher than it should, and slices right.

Zen Chili Rating for The Taly Mind Set

4 Zens out of 5

• Helps instill solid movements and perform them when the device is not being word
• Activates the mind’s eye to lead the body
• Useful in preparation for tournament use as a point of focus, to reduce pressure, and to help a golfer get into the zone.
• Documentation too technical, should come with a DVD

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well constructed, should last for years
• USGA approved to be carried on the bag during tournament play, but can’t be used during such play
• Comes in 3 colors, red, black and white
• Does not constrain the golf swing
• Useful for full swing, sand game, chipping and putting

To learn more about the rating system click here.

How does the Taly Mind Set help?

By slightly extending the red ball the golfer can immediately see a flip occur because the shaft of the golf club will cross the shaft of the Taly.  The bright red ball serves as a very visible reference point.  The more the golfer can prevent the two shafts from crossing, the better the impact position will be.  Once I understood that this was one of the main goals of the Taly, the value of the device became clear.

For the average golfer who flips the club, it is worth getting the Taly to fix this dreaded flaw.  However as I have used the Taly more and more new applications came into focus for me.

One of the interesting things about using the device is that the little red ball really does become ingrained in your mental imagery of the swing.  When you are not wearing the Taly, you can still clearly imagine where the red ball would be.

I use the device to help generate lag and keep my downswing slightly underplane.  Imagine Sergio Garcia’s swing from a down the line view, as if you are standing directly behind him, watching him hit a ball at a target that is in front of you, a few hundred yards away.  The great thing about this device is that no matter what move you are trying to ingrain, if you start to see how the red ball moves, it becomes a move you can duplicate very quickly, as if it has become etched into your mind’s eye.

For me, it’s working on my version of Sergio Garica type lag.  As Sergio takes the club back he reaches the top of his swing.  He then executes his famous move where the club lays off just a bit, and he allows the lag to happen.  This move is the polar opposite of what most amateur golfers do.  Most amateur golfers, especially those who have problems slicing the ball, typically come down over the top, cut across the ball with a flipped club head and wonder why they can’t hit a straight shot or a draw.

This is a move that I’ve been working on for months.  Within minutes using the Taly, it had become a part of my swing, rather than something I was just working on. Watching the Talynt point  (the little red ball) quickly grooved the move.  I took the Taly off and to my amazement I was able to clearly see the little red ball in my mind’s eye and swing after swing, repeat it perfectly.

I used video to record the swings both with the Taly and without it and I was really impressed by how the Taly Mind Set helped me to visualize and execute this move.

No physical restrictions:

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The Taly helps to accomplish all of this without restricting the player’s movements.  The most restrictive device I have reviewed is the Swing Jacket which obviously restricts the player into making correct moves.  The Taly is different though.  By visualizing the Talynt point it is possible to reproduce those moves that you have been working on.  This is the first training aid I have used that so clearly has an impact when it’s not being worn, because your memory and mind’s eye can easily recall those movements.

I have also found it useful for chipping and putting.  During my putting practice it helped me achieve a really solid feeling putting stroke.  I’m very excited about continued use of the Taly and plan to integrate into my regular practices.

For more go to: Taly Website

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Review: Tour Striker Pro

According to the website for the Tour Striker:

Finally! A simple training club that intuitively promotes the essentials of Tour quality club head to ball impact!

One percent of golfers strike golf balls correctly. The Tour Striker and Tour Striker Pro training clubs will intuitively help you understand leverage and how to apply the club head to the golf ball in the same manner as the best players in the world. You will gain command of the elusive skills required to compress a golf ball. Best of all, this is not a temporary solution!

Allow the creative golfer inside you to enjoy the game once and for all. You can learn how to have world-class impact conditions and strike golf balls purely, accurately and with great control.

Tour Striker Models

The Tour Striker Pro is the pro version of the Tour Striker, a training aid designed to teach a player to hit the ball with a forward shaft lean and the hands ahead.

Pro Vs Regular Tour Striker
Pro Vs Regular Tour Striker

Here’s the tour striker compared to a regular iron.

Tour Striker vs an iron
Tour Striker vs an iron

Side view of the tour strikers:

Tour Striker Side View
Tour Striker Side View

Photo source: www.tourstriker.com

The only way to get the ball up in the air hitting this club is to have a forward leaning shaft at impact.  If the shaft is straight up and down or leaning away from the target at impact, the ball will fly very low or simply roll on the ground.

Using it on the Right Surface

It is very important that when practicing with the tour striker you are on either very firm closely mown turf or a hard mat.  In fact the best test for your ball striking abilities with the tour striker come when using a lie board.

If you attempt to use the tour striker on fluffy grass or a very soft mat like the Country Club Elite (CCE) mats that allow you to hit down and through the ball you will negate the benefits of the tour striker as the soft grass or mat will allow you dig in to ground and hit a decent shot without the forward lean of the shaft.

I can use Range Mats again (but only for this)

One of the interesting results for me of using the Tour Striker Pro is that using this club actually gives me an incentive to use the hard mats at the range near me.  If you read this blog you know that I am not a fan of range mats.

For normal iron practice I intend to continue to use my CCE mat as that simulates a lush fairway and gives me great feedback on the quality of the strike, but for working on the shaft lean and hands forward at impact I can use the range mats, but only with the Tour Striker.

Once you are on the correct surface the Tour Striker shows its true value.  I consider myself a pretty good ball striker.  Over the past few months as it has gotten colder in the northeast I have not only kept my distances the same in the colder temperatures but have actually increased them as my technique has improved.

Still, the tour striker showed me that I had some work to do with the shaft lean as I hit a number of low worm burners with it.  However, the majority of shots I hit with it were fairly acceptable with a few exceptional ones.

During my practice sessions I alternated using the Tour Striker Pro and my irons and the feedback was great.  My iron playhas improved over the past few months, and I think continued and regular use of the Tour Striker will take it to new levels.

The quality is product is excellent.  It appears to be manufactured to pretty high standards.

I consider the Tour Striker Pro to be a valuable addition to my practice toolset.

Which Tour Striker to Get

“The Regular Tour Striker is targeted for mid-to-high handicap golfers and slower swing speeds (under 90 mph with driver), while the Tour Striker Pro is geared for dedicated practicers with higher swing speeds. We also offer a Tour Striker for women and younger players who wish to improve their game.”

I agree with this description.  If you are mid to high handicapper you will struggle with the Tour Striker Pro.  For the lower handicap players the Pro model adds the right amount of challenge.  The leading edge of the club does look pretty high.  It is a pretty cool and rewarding sensation to see this high leading edge hit a nice high soft shot that carries forever.

On the range I introduced a friend of mine to the Tour Striker and watched him hit a few balls.  It very quickly forced him to make a few adjustments but then he started hitting some great shots.  When he went back to hitting his own irons I could see that the adjustments had carried over and he hit the ball on a better trajectory with a slightly more penetrating ball flight.

If you have a flippy swing where you try and scoop the ball to get it in the air, the Tour Striker will definitely help you to change that.  Be prepared for a bit of frustration as you make the adjustment but the end result will be worth it.

Take a look at the slow motion shot below.  You will see a very nice iron strike.  The shaft is leaning a bit forward, the clubhead hits the ball first, then the ground.  A phrase I was told to remember this was “Hit the little ball (the golf ball), before the big ball (the earth)”.

Website: www.tourstriker.com

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Review: The Floppy – Indoor Practice Golf Ball

Master the short game and you can score well even when your long game is off.

The Floppy is a soft indoor practice golf ball.  It has  a woven cover, a liner and a proprietary filling.

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The Floppy Close Up
The Floppy Close Up

The videos on the homepage do a good job of showing what the floppy does and how it reacts when it bounces of windows.  When I first saw the floppy on-line I thought it was going to be a bit like a hacky sack in the shape of a golf ball.  But when you squeeze it, it instantly bounces back into shape.   The quality of the woven cover is very good.  I would imagine that a single ball could easily take thousands of hits.  The sticker on the ball won’t last that long though.  It pretty quickly got worn down so that the text was difficult to read.    That does not affect it’s performance.

How it behaves

It is best to have it land on something as close to turf as possible.  I found that on carpet it does react very much like a golf ball.  It checks up pretty well, and can even spin back a little bit.  You can hit it high or low and it will behave predictably.

For us North Easterners, and anyone else stuck in the cold, it does provide a nice way to practice your short game.    Depending on how hard you hit them I think they could still knock some things over as they do have a little bit of weight to them.  However they do absorb impacts well and lightly bounce of harder objects like walls or plate glass.  I think these would be a blast to use in an indoor AstroTurf field.

Overall I think The Floppy is a very cool indoor practice ball.  When I combine it with my golf mat (Country Club Elite) and use the stance mat as a grassy target it really does allow me to practice short chips and pitches very well.   I was easily able to practice chip shots inside up to 25 ft, limited by my living space and not the ball it self.  I could hit high little floaters or low running chips well with it.

The Floppy certainly takes a bit of the sting out of being in a cold part of the country with a few months until the golf season officially starts here.  In the meantime I can become a deadly chipper and pitcher and hopefully a short game wizard.  My preference with the floppy is to land it on the “short grass” of the stance mat, and see how it rolls out or responds rather than bouncing it off the walls as it is show in the videos on the home page for the product.

On a side note, I am a fan of Phil Mickelson’s “Secrets of the Short Game”, and find that the Floppy with the mats allows me to groove a consistent hinge and hold.

Although it can be used for the long game, I do not have a net and I would not take full swings with the floppy, at least not until I had a good practice net in place.  But for short game practice, I have not hit another practice golf ball that gives me the kind of feedback that the floppy does.

The Floppy Home Page