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The descent of winter means the end of the golf season for great swaths of the United States. If you’re a dedicated player, the trick then becomes keeping your game in some semblance of good shape until spring arrives — or until you can get to a golf resort south of the snow belt. While our friends in Floria and California may be able to enjoy some of the world’s best golf courses all year long, the rest of us are busy shoveling our driveways. While it’s not quite as satisfying as teeing off at Torrey Pines in San Diego or the Wynn Resort Golf Club in Las Vegas, the best indoor and off-season golf training aids can help tide you over until the snow melts.
In fact, there are a ton of gadgets and gimmicks on the market to help you work on any element of your golf game when you can’t play regularly. Just take a stroll sometime through the convention floor of the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. From your driver grip and rip, to your midrange iron length, to your chipping accuracy, and to your putting prowess, there’s no shortage of golf practice products to pile up around your home in the offseason. Of course, not every gimmicky golf training aid is worth the time or money.
The price of golf training aids also varies widely. You can buy whole-room golf simulators that cost as much as a new car, while our favorite indoor golf training aid costs just $30 via Amazon Prime. So which off-season golf training aids are actually worth the investment?
Here you’ll find a convenient roundup of the most effective and popular golf training aids for covering the different aspects of the game at a variety of price points. You’ll be able to pick up good options here to keep you busy until the thaw puts you back in the tee box.
1. Impact Improver Golf Training Aid
Invented by golf instructor Tiffany Faucette, Impact Improver uses the classic magic of hook and loop stickiness (better known as Velcro-style fasteners) to help you gauge exactly where you’re making contact with the golf club. The simple yet ingenious device clicks onto an iron. Then you hit a soft, fuzzy golf ball off the grass or mat. The ball sticks precisely to where the ball and club face met, revealing if you’re making contact in the sweet spot, topping, hitting heel or otherwise missing the mark. The whole kit fits in any golf bag and can travel with you anywhere.
Put simply, a curved, hollow BirdieBall behaves like traditional golf balls. It will get up in the air. It’ll draw and fade. It’ll land soft. It just won’t travel more than 40 yards. It’s popular for those looking to practice at full speed in limited space environments. You can swing at full speed and still walk over to pick up the result. The only question is how they get the balls off of their birdies
3. The Net Return
Quickly establishing themselves as the maker of essential golf practice tools, the people at Net Return build outstanding catch-alls for home practicing. Perfect for the dedicated golfer who wants to work on his or her game at home and indoors, the sturdy, well-designed Net Return allows you to practice any kind of shot without doing damage to surrounding valuables or property. Install this popular off-season golf training aid in your recreation room or garage until you can head back to your local muni.
4. Swingalign Goal Post Putting Trainer
In the golf world, Swingalign is known for its swing training rigs. (See #13 below.) The idea of those setups is to force your body move in a golf-friendly way until the movement becomes second nature. Once your muscle memory takes over, you don’t need the swing trainer. The Goal Post Putting Trainer doesn’t attach to you like a swing trainer. It connects to your putter face and forces you to maintain a clean takeaway and followthrough on your putting stroke. Wiggle too far left or right, and a clean putt becomes impossible.
5. Check Point Swing Laser
One of the trickiest realities about improving your golf swing is that half of your swing actually takes place over and behind you, beyond the limits of your peripheral vision. Once the club and your hands rise to roughly ear height, you cannot keep your eye on the ball and clearly see what’s going on behind you until you begin the downswing and find your release point.
Are you setting up inside out, outside in or on plain? Is your downswing on line and downrange, or are you coming over the top? You often can’t tell without a coach or eyes behind your head until you make contact. The Check Point Swing Laser attaches to the shaft of any golf club and sends a light beam in both directions — up and down the club. If you swing slow, carefully and naturally, you can follow those laser beams and explore if your swing stays in line on the way up and back down again. Like the best golf training aids for the off season, the Check Point Swing Laser is based on a deceptively simple concept that can give you fresh insights into your game.
Another entry from BirdieBall, this pad is designed to be used with their little hollow tube projectiles. The StrikePad allows you to hit balls from anywhere — protecting the ground from your club and your club from the ground. You can drop it at the range, in the yard or on the driveway, and then go to work with BirdieBalls designed to stay in the neighborhood. By way of instruction, the StrikePad includes simple diagram markings that show proper swing path and timing for both righty and lefty players.
7. GForce Swing Trainer 7 Iron
Two of the most difficult concepts for golfers to feel, understand and execute in the golf swing are lag and release. While the hacker believes he or she has to hit the ball as one might chop down a tree or smack a baseball, a truly good golfer swings with physics in mind and lets the club go for a moment between the top and contact. A big, easy golf swing pulls the club, as opposed to pushing it, with the club head behind the hands. The flippy, floppy GForce Swing Trainer Iron forces you to whip the golf club — improving your ability to lag and release. While it might look strange at first, it’s one of the most effective golf training aids.
8. Brunswick Ross Putting Green
While it’s easily one of the most expensive items on this list, the Brunswick Ross Putting Green is an all-time classic golf training tool and game room fixture. Made of solid hardwood and covered in artificial turf to simulate a quality green, the Ross includes levers that adjust the pitch and camber of the putting surface. That allows you to practice putting uphill, downhill and with or against left/right breaks. It’s a classy golf training tool that’s been on the market for years, reminding you of the game’s history while you practice. Sure, this putting green is more about fun than it is about technical improvement, but it may be exactly what you need to outlast a long winter without golf.
9. Groove Putting Mirror Special Edition
Though it’s the shortest swing in golf, there’s plenty going in a putting stroke. The Groove Putting Mirror Special Edition works to help you fix multiple potential problems at once. By standing over this putting device and looking down on the mirror facing you from the green, you can closely observe your putting motion in real-time. You might find that your putter is flush at impact, your takeaway is straight back, or if your followthrough is toward the cup.
Based on Eyeline Golf’s previous mirror guides, this special edition adds more feedback in the form of a Motion Detector, Impact Gate and Ball Gate indicated on the reflective surface.
10. Acu-Strike Golf Mat
Once you learn the basics of a golf swing — stance, grip, takeaway, release and followthrough — you face the most common challenge for any amateur player. A well-struck golf shot needs the club head to strike the ball first before hitting the ground and taking any divot. A Best New Project Winner at the PGA Merchandise Show, the Acu-Strike Golf Mat allows you to see in its fabric where the club touched the ground. Whether you hit behind the mark or ball-forward, the mat will reveal all. A simple swipe erases the mark. So, it’s swing, read, erase, repeat.
11. Chippo Golf
Anyone can smash a drive a couple of hundred yards down the fairway. It takes great skill, touch and focus to play the short game around the greens. Looking a bit like the child of a corn hole board and an astroturf golf mat, the Chippo Golf game offers three net targets you can shoot for from nearby, developing the kind of relaxed, deft chip shots efforts near the putting surface demand. It’s a practice tool for the lone golfer and a group game for friends that can be played indoors or in a garage. When shopping for the best golf training aids for the off season, Chippo is definitely one of the most entertaining options.
12. EyeLine Golf Speed Trap
Jack Nicklaus once said the hardest thing to hit in golf is a straight shot. So, if a right-handed player, you might like to hit a draw (a left arching shot) or a fade (right arching). If you reach for that draw and lose it out of bounds, that’s now a hook. The ball lost to the right is a slice. Such score killers can be fixed by working on swing path.
If you want to hit a draw, you have to swing inside out every time. To hit a power fade, you’re looking to swing more outside in with a closed club face. By arranging the soft, hook and loop, detachable swing guides o the Eyeline Golf Speed Trap, you can practice whatever swing path is necessary with active feedback. If you make a mistake and nick a soft guide pole, no harm done. Reattach and swing again.
13. Swing Align
Amongst the endless moving parts you must master in a good golf swing, hand and arm position is a major focus. The Swing Align trainer helps you learn proper swing path, arm position, hip turn and other key physical functions by adding artificial appendages that force you to keep your arms and hands in the slot. If you can’t have a human coach standing there watching you, the Swing Align makes you stay on path.
14. SkyTrak Golf Simulator
Our list of the best indoor golf training aids for the offseason wouldn’t be complete without at least one golf simulator, even if these devices are extremely expensive. The best golf simulators cost $50,000 or more; however, SkyTrak has developed a reputation in the golfing world by making an affordable-ish golf simulator that’s worth the money. Rather than turning an entire room into a golf simulator, SkyTrak is portable, and it can be moved and installed anywhere with enough room to set it up. In addition to the cost of the golf simulator in a box (about $2,000), there are recurring monthly charges for the software. Yes, it’s still expensive, but SkyTrak can help you play a full 18 without ever leaving your rec room, while also analyzing your swing and putting stroke. For those of us in the snowbound north, it’s also the closest to golfing we’ll get this winter.