Tour Striker - Review
(By: GolfSpy Matt) One problem that affects most amateur golfers is “flipping” the club through impact. It goes by a number of different names, but essentially we’re talking about trying to lift the ball into the air and adding loft to the club. One reason that it is such a prevalent flaw is that most people don’t know that they do it; modern golf clubs make it possible to hit good shots even with a flip. That said, we know that good players don’t flip; they hit down on the ball with the shaft leaning forward. The Tour Striker is designed to teach you how to stop flipping the club and instead create a powerful impact position. Does it work? Read on, fellow Spies…
Before I get too far, however, I think that if you, the reader, are to get the most out of a review, it’s important to know a little about the reviewer. If I was reviewing a car, and I said the handling was excellent, you’d want to know whether I was an F1 racer or a minivan-driving soccer dad, right? I think the same thing applies to training aids. With that in mind, a little about myself:
I am 27 years old, I work out daily and am relatively athletic. This past season I got my handicap as low as a 9, and then started reconstructing my golf swing with the help of GolfTEC. I am about 6 months into the rebuilding process, and I’d like to think I am about 75% of the way there. I work in a golf store and I get to hit balls virtually every day. Hopefully that will help you understand my perspective for this review.
From the Manufacturer
The original Tour Striker 8 iron, Tour Striker Pro 7 iron, Tour Striker Pro X 7 iron, Tour Striker Pro 5 iron and Tour Striker 56-degree wedge training clubs feature distinctive designs that have little clubface below the "sweet spot". The clubs have been designed so golfers intuitively teach themselves how to deliver the "sweet spot" of the club to the ball like an expert ball striker.
Many experts agree that practicing with the Tour Striker will automatically change a golfer’s swing and ball striking, and they will quickly learn to apply forward shaft lean, which will increase lag, add club head speed and improve their impact position naturally.
The Original Tour Striker is targeted for mid-to-high handicap golfers and those with slower swing speeds (under 90 mph with driver), while the Tour Striker Pro is geared for dedicated players with higher swing speeds and a handicap of 10 or less. Also available is a Tour Striker for women and younger players who wish to improve their game. The ladies/junior model is slightly shorter than the regular Tour Striker (35 inches vs. 36 inches) and has a graphite shaft appropriate for women and juniors.
Tour Striker training clubs are cast of 433 stainless steel. The vibration dampening logo affixed within the back cavity helps reduce shock on miss-hit shots while developing ball striking skills. The lie angle and shaft length may be customized for a nominal additional fee.
Ease of Use
There is no set up with the Tour Striker – unwrap it and take it to the range. The Tour Striker does come with an instructional DVD, but it is not necessary. The minute a golfer picks it up, they say, “That’s interesting…let me see if I can hit it,” and they go about figuring out how to make it work. I’ve handed this club to a number of co-workers and customers (more about this later), and no one had any difficulty figuring out how it should work.
The club that I tested was the Tour Striker PRO 7 iron. I have found it be a very effective tool for instilling the feeling of leading with the hands. The thing that I most like about the Tour Striker is the immediate feedback. If you don’t do what the club demands, a very bizarre shot will result – usually something low that knuckles and dips in the air – and you’ll know that you flipped. If you lead with your hands, the club performs like a normal 7 iron. When I practice, I like to hit five shots with the Tour Striker, then five shots with a normal club. I’ve found this to be a good way to keep focused on hitting down on the ball and leading with my hands. Since I started using the Tour Striker, I find that I am hitting the ball more consistently, particularly with regard to trajectory.
The other thing that I have found very valuable about the Tour Striker is that it allows you to work on other parts of your swing while monitoring your flip. As anyone who has built or rebuilt their swing knows, it is a process that happens one step at a time. For me, it started with the takeaway, then progressed to my position at the top, then to not flipping, then rotating the body, and so on. You work on one thing until you feel like you have it, then you move on, but those early changes need to be checked from time to time. The beauty of the Tour Striker is that I can focus my thoughts on rotating my body (or any other element of the swing), and still get feedback on whether or not I flipped.
My only negative comment about the Tour Striker is that, like any training device, it can be cheated. I can’t tell you how it can be done, and I have never done it myself, but I have seen it. In my Peanut Gallery testing, I handed the club to a friend who is a chronic flipper. We were filming his swing to see if the Tour Striker would fix the problem. After a few swings, he hit a “good” shot and we were both excited, assuming that he had not flipped. Upon reviewing the tape, he had indeed flipped. I still think that the Tour Striker is a very good and effective tool, but it is not infallible.
Most training aids, much like exercise equipment, are very exciting for about a week or two. We take them to the range, show our friends, use them religiously…then the shine wears off. Using them turns into work, and we’d rather just hit balls. To me, longevity is almost as important in a training aid as effectiveness. You can have the best tool in the world, but if you don’t use it, it can’t make you better.
In my opinion, the Tour Striker is every bit as impressive in longevity as it is in effectiveness. When I practice, I want to hit the Tour Striker. I crave the feedback that it gives me, the reinforcement of, “Yes, you did that correctly.” I love the shots that I hit after my five swings with the Tour Striker.
Part of the long term appeal of the Tour Striker is its ease of use. The Tour Striker lives in my bag, so it’s always there when I go to the range. It doesn’t require me to put anything on, attach anything to my club, or do anything other than pick it up and swing it.
The last thing that I think contributes to its longevity is that it’s fun to take to the range with friends. “Here, try to hit this.” (Watch friend shank it) “Geez…it’s not that hard, watch.” (Hit perfect shot). I could see going to the range with a friend and building a game around it: first one to shank buys the next bucket of balls.
My only concern regarding the longevity of this product centers on players who don’t have success with it. I was working on leading with my hands for over a month before I got the Tour Striker, so from day one I was hitting 90% of my shots well. I have handed the Tour Striker to players who hit 90% of their shots poorly. While in the short term they wanted to keep swinging until they did it right, I have a suspicion that over the long term they would end up leaving the Tour Striker at home. In this regard, I think it’s very important that people buy the Tour Striker model that is appropriate for their game. Tour Striker does offer a variety of products targeted to various levels of golfers. The original Tour Striker 8 iron is for players with higher handicaps, the PRO model 5 and 7 irons are for better players, and the PRO X, with a face the size of a quarter, is for those who want a real test of their ball striking. They also offer a 56* sand wedge which I have tried before, and it is significantly easier to use successfully than the PRO model 7 iron.
The Tour Striker costs $100 ($120 for graphite). This puts it solidly in the middle of the pack as far as training aids go – not cheap, but not outrageous. To me, the Tour Striker is an above average training aid, so compared to other training aids I think the Tour Striker offers very significant value. That said, I am more apt to judge the value against other things I might spent $100 on: is this better than playing two rounds of golf or buying a new wedge? My conclusion is: yes, the Tour Striker is a worthwhile tool to have and I would give up a couple rounds of golf to have it.
The Peanut Gallery
The Tour Striker set a very high bar in terms of how much Peanut Gallery input I was able to gather. Not only did I get quality input from the PGA Professionals at GolfTec and my co-workers, but a large number of customers tried the Tour Striker as well.
We will start with the PGA Professionals. Probably the most telling thing is that they have recently purchased a Tour Striker for their own professional use – a very strong endorsement of the product. They have found the Tour Striker to be popular and effective among their students. On the other hand, one of them argued that the Tour Striker was not something he would recommend that students buy for themselves; he felt that at $100 it was a good investment for him professionally, but an individual would not use it enough.
My co-workers all seemed to enjoy working with the Tour Striker. Their feelings were much in line with my own: they enjoyed the instant feedback and the sense of success when they executed a good shot. To be fair, the players who am I referring to here are all fairly skilled and had good success with the Tour Striker. The only negative sentiment that this group expressed was along the lines of, “I already do this, so how will this make me better?” This goes back to my point about buying the right Tour Striker: if this person had the PRO X, I doubt they would have asked this question.
The most interesting group of testers was the customers in the store. The customers covered all the bases: high to low handicappers as well as people who were interested in improving their swing and people who weren’t. One thing was consistent across all of these groups: they would not give the Tour Striker back until they could hit it with some consistency. There was not a single person who gave it back saying, “This doesn’t work/this is a trick/etc.” Perhaps this is more a comment on the golfers than the club, but I thought it was interesting given the lack of success that some testers had. While all these players were eager to make the Tour Striker work in that moment, I did get the sense that it left the higher handicap players feeling defeated. Some players did hit nine out of ten shots badly, and it was clearly embarrassing for them. For these players, it is even more critical that they pick the right model lest it collect dust in a corner after one bad range session. The difficulty there is that I know of very few stores with Tour Strikers in stock to demo. It would be nice (though perhaps not feasible from a business perspective) to allow players to trade up or down if they purchased the “wrong” model for them.
I obviously think very highly of the Tour Striker. I found it to be effective, and I found myself wanting to use it and wanting to share it with others. While I enjoyed the Tour Striker very much, I do have to acknowledge some of the concerns that came up during the review process. Better players might find that success comes too easily, and higher handicap players might find it too frustrating. As I’ve written repeatedly, both of these problems could be addressed by purchasing the correct model for the given player’s ability level.
If you’re interested in improving your ball striking, I highly recommend the Tour Striker.