What’s More Important In Putting?
(Written By: GolfSpy Matt) What’s more important in putting: direction or speed? In an informal survey, 8 of 8 PGA Professionals told me that speed is king. Personal experience echoes what the pros say: I can’t remember a lot of 3 putts that were caused by a bad line, but I can (sadly) remember more than a few caused by leaving a long putt 10 feet short or blowing it 6 feet past.
With this in mind, I have to wonder why are all the putting trainers out there obsessed with direction? If we’re truly going to bring down our putts per round and eliminate the dreaded 3-jack, we need a training aid that will help us with distance control. Enter Puttist, a putting trainer that bills itself as “The 3 Putt Killer.” Does it live up to its name? Read on, spies…
Ease of Use/Set-Up
Puttist is pretty darned easy to use: roll out the putting mat, plug in the AC adapter, and push power. There are a number of games that you can play on Puttist, and navigating through them is pretty simple. The only downside of Puttist is being tethered to an electrical outlet (unless you have the Plus model with a built-in rechargeable battery).
For those that don’t like reading too much, I’ll make this quick: Puttist is damned effective. Period. On to the next section.
I’ll elaborate for those of you who like details: using Puttist simply consists of putting a ball in the center of the 5 foot mat, roughly 2.5 feet from the sensor, and hitting it. The display then tells you how far the ball went and whether you missed the putt right or left.
One of my favorite things about Puttist is that the putting mat is marked with evenly spaced numbers behind and in front of the spot where you place your ball. This helps you to develop the sense of how long your stroke should be to hit a putt 10 feet, 20 feet, etc.
This same feature also teaches you how to be more consistent with your tempo and the force you apply in the downswing. You will quickly find that even if you take the putter back to “3” every time, you can still hit putts anywhere from 10 feet to 20 feet, depending on how solid your contact is and how much you accelerate the putter.
I do have one gripe with Puttist, but it’s purely a philosophical one. If you read the instruction manual or check out their website, you will find lots of references to the idea of “never leave a putt short.” This is also built into the games: hitting a 10 foot putt 9.9 feet is a failure, but 10.5 is a win. Personally, I’ve never gotten any extra credit for missing a putt long as opposed to short. Maybe I’m just playing the wrong courses.
Regardless, this philosophical difference doesn’t take away from the fact that Puttist does a good at the teaching you to control the distance of your putts, and it will help you to build a more consistent putting stroke.
Let’s start out with the durability of the product: the mat is quite thick and rolls out flat even after being rolled up a number of times. I get the feeling that even if you have to store it after every use, the Puttist mat will last for quite a while.
For the tougher part of Longevity, the “Will I be using this for more than a week” part, I think Puttist rates quite well. Distance control or “touch” is something you never own, but rather something that you need to consistently work on. Also, Puttist offers a number of games that you can play if you want that sense of competition.
There are two versions of Puttist: the Basic and the Plus. The functional difference is that the Plus has a built-in battery so that it can be charged and then used away from an electrical outlet. The units retail for $169.99 and $189.99, respectively.
Even if we ignore the upgraded Plus model, Puttist is nearly double to cost of the “average” training aid (which I assume to be about $100). Much as I like the Puttist, and I really do, I know that most people won’t plunk down $170 for a training aid.
The Peanut Gallery
As you would expect based on my opening comments, our PGA Pros were all very pleased with the concept of Puttist. They felt that it would be an excellent tool to work on distance control with their students. They also appreciated that they could work on distance control without constantly walking to shag putts from the other ends of the putting green.
Other members of the Peanut Gallery had more lukewarm responses to Puttist. I’ve said before the putting trainers don’t wow people the way that swing trainers do, and a putting trainer that doesn’t focus on making putts has even less appeal. Do I think this is smart? Obviously not. That said, I don’t get to tell the Peanut Gallery what to think.
The one thing that the whole Peanut Gallery agreed on was that the price was outside their personal budget. Our pros didn’t think that the cost would be recouped through use in lessons (because very few people want putting lessons), and our other golfers just didn’t think they would use it enough.
When I added up this final score, I had a very rare thought: “This score does not reflect how much I like this product.” There are times when the score comes out higher than I might expect, but rarely does it come out lower. Unfortunately for Puttist, the price and the Peanut Gallery response really undercut the overall score, and nothing, even a perfect Effectiveness score, could salvage that. Despite a less-than-stellar overall score, I want to stress that I think the Puttist is a very effective way to work on distance control. For those who can afford it, or those who are simply that serious about dropping strokes, I would recommend taking a look at Puttist.