Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let's admit two undeniable truths. One, men love gadgets. We just do. Maybe it's the James Bond effect, I don't know. But if it's a gadget, and it's new, we want it. Two, we want to buy a better golf game. Lessons and practice require patience, but if we can take a technology-aided shortcut with a club that adds 15 yards off the tee or holes more putts, our only question is, Visa or American Express?Golf is awash in gadgets, especially swing aids. Some are junk, some aren't. I found a new one that I think is worth talking about. It's called True Ympact (pronounced impact, just spelled uniquely), and this is what I consider the ultimate compliment for a golf training aid -- it's as useful for good players as it is for beginners or high-handicappers. That is a rarity.Ympact_300 The True Ympact is relatively simple. You slip two straps onto your left arm (lefties can adjust it for use, too). The straps are attached to a metal brace, which is in turn attached to an arm that clamps your club in place. In effect, your arm becomes an extension of the club with a brace located just above the outside of the wrist. Basically, you're strapped down and forced to rotate the club and release it during the swing. Joe Boros, the head pro at Treesdale Golf & Country Club here in Pittsburgh's North Hills, turned me onto this gimmick. He discovered it at the PGA Merchandise Show last January. It was being marketed as a chipping and putting aid. "I've got some members who yip their chips, so I'm always looking for something to help with their feel," Boros said.The True Ympact didn't get into production until late summer. When he finally got his first samples, Boros learned it could be used to make full swings, too, which makes it invaluable for teaching. "If it was just a chipping tool, it would still be awesome but being able to hit driver or 6-iron with it makes it that much more useful," Boros said. "Most people have never felt the club rotate properly. I put this on students and they're able to find a position they weren't able to find before."The local high school golf team was practicing on Treesdale's range this fall when Boros brought out the device. "The coach was trying to help one kid who was blocking every shot to the right," Boros said. "I showed him how to release the golf club but he's still having a difficult time. I put the True Ympact on him. The first one he hit, he blocked it only a little. I showed him the rotating motion we wanted. All of a sudden on the next one, his ball goes from 30 degrees right to right down the line with a little draw. The coach said it was the first straight ball he'd ever hit."I found the device beneficial on medium length pitches, the 20- to 40-yard shots that I'm not consistent at. With the device on, my club stays on the target line better during my backswing. What was my backswing doing before? I don't know, but it couldn't have been good.There is one curious moment that proves the True Ympact does something. Hit a dozen shots with it on, then remove it and get ready to hit another ball. Your hands act as if they're magnetically charged, moving on their own back into the same position as when the device was on. They feel momentarily out of your control. It's eerie. "It's a wow moment," Boros said. "It must have something to do with how much pressure you're putting against the brace as you're swinging through. Your hands want to go one way, maybe, and it's not letting you, I'm not sure."Well, it's a gadget and it works. What else do you really need to know?
(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

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