Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. BirdieBall Review

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    The BirdieBall is a limited-range practice golf ball that you can hit anywhere with 40 yards of space. In this BirdieBall review, I’ll cover how well the BirdieBall works, if it’s effective for practice, and some of the accessories they sell.

    three birdieball golf balls

    What is a BirdieBall?

    A BirdieBall is a plastic practice golf ball, that doesn’t look that different from a cut off PVC pipe. It’s been designed to fly just like a real ball would off a club, but the cut out makes it so it can only travel around 40 yards. This makes it ideal to practice with in a backyard, park, or anywhere else with limited space.

    This sounds like a great solution for people who want to practice without driving to the range, but does it work? Continue this BirdieBall review to find out!

    Does the BirdieBall work and can you shape shots?

    I’ve been a BirdieBall customer now for many years. I initially purchased one of their putting greens, which came with some free BirdieBalls to try out. I was surprised at how much fun they were to hit for not really looking much like a golf ball.

    The feel of hitting a BirdieBall of a club is a little different than hitting a golf ball because of the softer feel, but it’s not all that dissimilar. Once you get past the different shape you won’t really notice that you’re not practicing with a ball.

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    When hitting the BirdieBall, make sure to position the ball with the opening facing upward. If you’re hitting off a mat, this is easy to do, or if you’re in the grass, just roll it with your club until it’s set up correctly. This position makes sure the feel and flight work as designed.

    The flight of the ball tends to start as you’d expect, but then climb and drop steeply, which is what I assume prevents it from going further than 40 yards. This allows you to still see exactly where the ball would travel based on your strike. The only thing you can’t tell is your normal distance, but if you get a pure strike I find that the BirdieBall tends to make a whistling noise that it doesn’t make when striking it fat or thin.

    The BirdieBall responds to directional strikes just like a real golf ball would, meaning you can tell when you push or pull the ball. It also spins allowing you to see if you’re slicing, hooking, drawing, or fading the ball.

    birdieball golf ball in front of a golf club

    What clubs can you use?

    You can use any club with a BirdieBall. It doesn’t come with a tee system (and normal tees won’t work with the large opening), so if you want to hit a driver other than off the deck, you’ll need to purchase a Velocity Tee from them for $16.

    I find that with some of the higher irons or woods I can get the BirdieBall to fly a bit further than 40 yards (maybe 60 at most), especially if the shot is more of a stinger. So make sure you’ve got some extra room if you’re using a long iron. They aren’t too likely to break anything but you probably don’t want to risk hitting anything fragile.

    Do they last?

    BirdieBalls hold up very well. They should last hundreds of shots before they begin to break down or wear out. Eventually they will get some wear and may crack (supposedly faster if you’re hitting them in cold temperatures), but it takes awhile.

    golden doodle puppy with a birdieball in its mouth
    My dog Kirby with a BirdieBall in his mouth

    My dog also loves to chase and grab them which has done the most damage to mine, but even he doesn’t completely destroy them. I’d recommend buying three to twelve of them just in case you lose any.

    How do they compare to other practice balls?

    I think the top two places to practice golf are on a range or a simulator as you can get a full picture of the shots you’re hitting. After that I think the BirdieBall is the next best thing.

    Hitting a real ball into a net without a simulator is helpful for getting some swing basics down but it’s hard to tell where the ball is going. Many practice golf balls are this same way. If you hit a wiffle ball, it’s not going to fly like a real ball would. Many cheap limited-flight foam balls have this same issue.

    You might look into a more realistic foam ball like an AlmostGolf ball, but you’ll need more room than you’d need with the BirdieBall (around 100 yards), which would remove the option of the backyard for me.

    BirdieBall accessories

    birdieball accessories

    BirdieBall sells a number of useful accessories that you may want to consider. You can also purchase these items in various packages along with your BirdieBalls.

    • StrikePad – This lets you hit BirdieBalls on any surface by protecting your club. It’s useful for setting in your yard if you want to protect your grass from taking divots. You can also buy a small hitting mat or a Birdie Turf to do this same thing, but this is a cheaper option.
    • BirdieTargets – These are collapsable targets you can bring with you to practice chipping into. They’re a really great option for improving your game.
    • BirdieHoop – This is a simple hoop with netting that you can set down for a closest to the pin target.
    • Velocity Tee – This is set of tees for a driver and a fairway wood so you can tee up a BirdieBall.

    BirdieBall Review Conclusion

    Pros

    • Spins & flies directionally like a real golf ball
    • Limited distance so can use in a backyard or park
    • Has a good feeling even though it’s plastic
    • Fairly inexpensive

    Cons

    • Can’t estimate the total distance or height of clubs
    • Will eventually wear down and break
    • Need a special tee for a driver
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    BirdieBall – 4.4/5

    BirdieBalls are the next best thing to hitting a real golf ball when you have limited space. They do a great job of showing the direction of your shots, making it easy to practice anywhere.

  2. Hook vs Slice: Golf Shot Shapes

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    In this article, I’ll outline the various golf shot shapes you might intentionally (or accidentally) hit. You’ll learn the differences between a hook, a slice, a draw, and a fade and how to hit or avoid hitting any of these shots. This is a critical bit of knowledge to help fix issues you see on the range and as you get better to use strategically.

    golf shot shape illustration - hook vs slice vs draw vs fade

    Hook vs Slice

    A hook is when the ball spins hard to the left, and a slice is when it spins hard to the right. Of course, if you’re a left-handed golfer, these terms are reversed.

    In general, these are shots that you don’t want to hit. They’re too hard to control and get to land in a favorable position. You might be able to use your knowledge of how to hit this shot to move the ball around an obstacle, but it’s only for extreme situations and is more likely to hurt you than help until you’re a lower handicap golfer.

    How to Stop Hooking the Ball

    To avoid hitting these shots, we’ll first start by describing how to hit them. A hook shot is created by swinging from inside to out. This is initially counter-intuitive as it may seem like swinging along this path would send the ball out to the right. However, you must remember that the hook is created by spin, so you’ll often start the ball straight or to the right before seeing it go hard to the left.

    To start fixing a hook, you’ll want to practice hitting on a path that is straighter through the ball. Take some practice swings and focus on this new path before hitting the ball. You can also exaggerate and try to hit a slice by swinging out to in, which might help you find a good middle ground.

    How to Stop a Slicing the Ball

    To avoid hitting a slice, it’s best to know what is causing it in the first place. The spin of a slice is created by swinging from outside to inside versus swinging straight down the target line.

    Most amateur golfers do this by coming over the top at the start of the downswing. You can avoid this by dropping down and inside from the top of your swing. Start with some practice swings and even try to swing inside to out until you’ve arrived at a more neutral swing.

    Setup Tips for Fixing Hooks and Slices

    Regardless of which type of swing issue you’re trying to fix, you’ll want to ensure you’re doing a few fundamental things correctly. First, make sure your feet and shoulders are aligned to the target. Turning one way or another will often promote an in-to-out or out-to-in swing. Use some alignment sticks to ensure you’re set up correctly.

    Second, check where you’re hitting the ball on the face of the club. If you’re not hitting toward the center of the face, you’ll put an additional side-spin on the ball. You can test this using some impact stickers or a can of Dr. Scholls Foot Powder Spray.

    Finally, ensure you’re genuinely hitting a hook or a slice instead of a push or a pull. Hooks and slices are due to spin on the ball and will curve left or right as the ball flies instead of starting to the left or right. If your ball goes straight left or right (possibly also spinning in that direction), you’ve also got an issue with the clubface being opened or closed to the target line. Golfers often have both problems together (a.k.a a push-slice or a pull-hook).

    golf shot draw fade club path

    Draw vs Fade

    A draw is when the ball has a small amount of left spin, and a fade is when it has a small amount of right spin. These shots can function as your go-to shot shape as long as you’re starting a ball a little bit right or left to have the ball spin back to the center line.

    How to Hit a Draw

    Hitting a draw involves swinging on a slightly more in-to-out path. You’ll also likely need to leave the club face slightly open to the straight path, so the ball starts to the right and draws back to the center.

    Hitting a draw can be an ideal shot for getting extra distance with a driver as it tends to reduce the amount of backspin on a ball. However, it can be challenging to get correct, so if you already have a straight shot, you may want to stick with that until you’re confident adding different shot shapes.

    Here are a few things you can try to start hitting a draw:

    • Aim your body to the right of the target line by turning your shoulders while keeping the clubface pointed at the target.
    • Swing along that new in-to-out path. You can visualize a point behind you between your back foot and the ball for the club to swing along and a spot outside and right of the ball to swing through.
    • If you need to alter the face, you can strengthen or weaken your grip (turn your lead hand counter-clockwise to open the face and start the ball further right and the opposite to close it).

    How to Hit a Fade

    To hit a fade, you’ll need a slightly out-to-in swing path to create some right spin. You may also need to have the club face just slightly closed to the straight path to have the ball fade back into the target.

    To hit a fade:

    • Aim your body to the left of the target line by turning your shoulders while keeping the clubface pointed at the target.
    • Swing along that new out-to-in path. You can visualize a point behind you outside the ball for the club to swing along and a spot inside and left of the ball to swing through.
    • If you need to alter the face, you can strengthen or weaken your grip (turn your lead hand clockwise to close the face and start the ball further left and the opposite to open it).
  3. SkyTrak Golf Simulator Review

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    The SkyTrak launch monitor is a mid-priced device that allows full golf simulation. As a result, it is one of the best options for a home golf simulator setup. In this SkyTrak review, I’ll cover how the device works, its pros and cons, and why it might be the best choice for you.

    skytrak launch monitor on golf mat

    SkyTrak Overview

    The SkyTrak launch monitor is a small box that captures shot data from a golf ball, which is sent to an app running on a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. This data can be used to review shot statistics at a driving range, create a simulated range or practice area, or run a simulation of a full round of golf.

    At around a $2,000 price point, the Skytrak is marketed to those who want a simulator setup that provides accurate, realistic shot data without paying $10,000 or more for a professional-level launch monitor.

    Cheaper launch monitors either provide only a display of statistical shot data (not suitable for simulation) or aren’t accurate enough to realistically simulate a round of golf (more of a video game where you can swing a real club, but it doesn’t exactly reflect how you might play on the course).

    More expensive golf simulators have different types of sensors that give additional data points or collect data in different ways that can provide more information targeted at club-fitters, professional golfers, commercial applications, and those with a large budget for their simulator setup.

    How SkyTrak Works

    SkyTrak uses a camera that captures high-speed images of a golf ball after impact. The images are used to capture data on how the ball is moving to determine its direction and carry distance.

    skytrak shot data screenshot
    The data view after hitting a shot on the SkyTrak driving range.

    What Does SkyTrak Measure?

    The camera in the SkyTrak collects the following ball data statistics:

    • Ball Speed – The speed of the ball directly impacts the maximum possible distance.
    • Back Spin – Measures how the ball rotates off the club head, which helps determine the height, efficiency, and distance.
    • Launch Angle – The angle of the ball launch compared to the ground. This helps determine how high the ball flies.
    • Side Spin – This spin will help determine if you’re hitting a straight ball or if it’s traveling left or right.
    • Side Angle – The angle, left or right, your shot starts on compared to a straight shot. This, combined with the spin, will help determine where the shot lands compared to the target line.

    It then runs calculations to provide additional data, including:

    • Spin Axis – Combination of the back and side spin to determine how the ball is spinning.
    • Total Spin – The total spin rate put on a golf ball after impact.
    • Carry Distance and Total Distance – Where the ball lands, and the total distance, including any roll.
    • Distance Offline – How far the ball lands off the center target line.
    • PTI (Smash Factor) – Ball speed divided by Club Head speed. This represents the amount of energy being transferred to the ball.
    • Angle of Descent – How the ball travels downward from its peak height.
    • Clubhead Speed – How fast the club is swinging.
    • Ball Flight Display – A visualization of where the ball travels based on collected data.

    What Does SkyTrak Not Measure?

    Unlike some of the more expensive launch monitors with multiple cameras, the SkyTrak doesn’t directly measure any data related to the golf club. It provides some displays around this data; however, as it’s not being directly measured, they don’t provide the same level of tracking as other monitors. Some of this club data which isn’t directly measured include:

    • Club Path
    • Face Angle
    • Dynamic Loft
    • Attack Angle
    • Swing Plane
    skytrak shot optimizer screenshot
    SkyTrak’s shot optimizer view, for targeting optimal shot data ranges.

    Is SkyTrak Accurate?

    The SkyTrak provides some of the most accurate data for a mid-tier launch monitor. Many of its data points will be the same or very similar to the most expensive options on the market. This makes it a great tool for practice, making swing changes, and simulator play.

    Where you may be lacking is in all the club data that you might get from an expensive monitor. This data is useful for club fitters and those making professional-level adjustments to their swing. I’ve found the SkyTrak is accurate enough for me to test two drivers and determine which provides the optimal shot outcome, but it might not capture everything in how different club and grip choices could affect how the club is being delivered.

    Similarly, the additional club data would be useful for those making swing adjustments and determining exactly what was changed and how it ultimately impacted the ball. This extra data comes at a great cost and may not even interest most amateur golfers.

    Pricing and Package Options

    SkyTrak is sold as a stand-alone launch monitor (currently priced at around $2,000). The device includes basic driving range software, which can be run on your device of choice (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop).

    The Game Improvement package is a subscription fee that enables a wide range of additional practice features and the ability to use the device with simulator software, which must be purchased separately. It’s priced at $100 per year. Some of the useful features include:

    • Closest-to-the-pin challenge
    • Long drive competition
    • History of shots during a session (and exporting of data)
    • Target practice
    • Club comparison
    • Skills assessment
    • Bag mapping (run through your clubs to determine distances)
    • Wedge matrix (compare your wedges distances at a pitch, 1/2 swing, 3/4 swing, and full swing)

    Finally, they also offer a Play and Improve package at $200 per year, which includes everything above plus the WGT (World Golf Tour) simulator software for iOS to play full rounds of golf.

    Simulator Software Options

    Once you’ve purchased a SkyTrak, you have several options for simulator software.

    • The Golf Club 2019 (TGC2019) – Windows PC only. $479 per year subscription (or $895 one-time payment).
      This software has excellent graphics, allows multiplayer or single player, and also allows play in online tournaments. It has a course designer, so you’ll find thousands of courses (of varying quality, but some are very well done) that people have built.
    • E6 Connect – Windows PC or iPad/iPhone (iOS). $299 – $600 (for more courses) per year subscription (or $2500 PC / $1500 iPad one time payment).
      This software has similar graphics to TGC, and allows multiplayer or single-player and online tournaments. It includes a selection of professionally designed courses and a rotating selection of additional courses. Additionally, it includes some fun games like H-O-R-S-E and billiards that are great for kids or having company over to play.
    • World Golf Tour (WGT) – iPad/iPhone (iOS). $199 per year subscription (as part of the SkyTrak play and improve package).
      This software has very realistic graphics, but because of how they’re rendered, you won’t have camera angles and hole flyovers like the other games (which is mostly a non-issue). This game also does not have a local multiplayer mode and can only play with other players online. Similar to E6, it has several built-in courses and some additional courses for play in challenge mode.
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    A quick guide to selecting software:

    Need iOS? Choose E6 or WGT
    Want the lowest price? WGT
    Want to play more variety and local courses? TGC2019
    Will you have friends over to play (multiplayer)? TCG2019 or E6
    Want to play fun games (in addition to sim golf) with kids/friends? E6

    I have tried all the software packages and chose The Golf Club because of the wide range of courses that can be played. I think any software package is a good choice, and your decision will likely come down to the questions that I listed above.

    skytrak driving range screenshot
    Hitting some shots on the range.

    Using the SkyTrak Driving Range

    SkyTrak includes a basic driving range, plus some additional features that are included with either of the subscription packages. The range can be set as a wide open field with yardage markers, a fairway of defined width, or a green at a defined size and distance.

    It makes an ideal practice area as the shots are realistic, it shows ball data for each shot, and you can also export data from a range session. You can use this data to compare balls, clubs, or swing techniques.

    You can also run a full bag mapping or wedge matrix. These modes help you truly understand how far your clubs travel in a neutral environment. This data can be invaluable when playing a round of golf.

    skytrak wedge matrix
    The wedge matrix results.

    I spend most of my time on the simulator trying to improve my game, and the driving range is the software I use while working on my swing. Some of the simulator packages also include a driving range, but I think the SkyTrak range is the best I’ve tried.

    Using SkyTrak to Play Simulator Golf

    SkyTrak is excellent for playing simulated rounds of golf. You can use any of the software packages mentioned above; it’s just determined by what features interest you the most.

    skytrak the golf club 2019 simulator software
    Playing a simulator round at Pacific Dunes in TGC 2019.

    Simulator golf is fun, and you can go at whatever pace you like. I can typically finish a round in about half the time it’d take me on a real course. I find that I can shoot slightly lower scores on the simulator as you will never miss a shot due to a bad lie. In general, the better golfer you are, the more accurate the simulator should be to your real scores (as you’re going to be hitting out of the deep rough and trees less often).

    What’s great is it does allow you to practice playing a real round of golf, where you need to strategize your way around the course and play many different shots. I typically disable the putting feature on my sim software as I don’t think it’s helping my putting game when on a mat, and I can play faster without it (instead, it gives me 1 putt within 5 yards and 2 outside of that). If you do play in tournaments online, you’ll have to putt, so it’s good to practice it if that interests you.

    skytrak the golf club 2019 stats
    Data displayed after a drive in TGC 2019.

    Local and online multiplayer modes are also really fun. One issue with the SkyTrak is that it sets up to one side of you (instead of above or behind you), which makes it difficult to switch between right and left-hand golfers. You can certainly switch the box back and forth, but it’s a pain, and if you have friends you are playing with often who are different-handed, you want to factor this in.

    I’ve found that SkyTrak rarely misses shots, but it does occasionally happen (maybe one time a round or every other round). When this happens, you can simply hit the shot again. Most often, misreads happen when a shot is hit abnormally poorly (e.g. a fat shot).

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    If you experience misread issues more often than this, you may need to ensure your device is clean and your room has adequate lighting.

    The only other issue I’ve experienced is SkyTrak disconnecting from the server. In this case, you can typically power it off and on again. If it doesn’t come back after that, you can reconnect the game to the device or quit the game and restart the computer. This rarely happens once you’ve established a good connection and your WiFi is in range.

    FAQ

    Will SkyTrak make me a better golfer?

    SkyTrak alone won’t make you a better golfer, but if used correctly, it should be able to help you improve your golf scores. It can help you know your club distances, understand your typical shots, strategize your shots on the course, and make it more convenient to practice in any weather. You’ll find the fastest way to improve is by finding a good coach and recording and reviewing your swing.

    How accurate is SkyTrak golf?

    The SkyTrak is accurate enough to compete with much more expensive launch monitors. You’ll find the ball goes exactly where you’d expect. The data it lacks is mostly club-related data which can be used for swing refinement.

    How many courses can you play on SkyTrak?

    This will depend on the simulator software you purchase, but it ranges from dozens to thousands (in simulators where users can build their own courses).

    Does SkyTrak work without a subscription?

    SkyTrak will work without a subscription. However, you’ll be limited to the basic version of the driving range software. Most people will want to upgrade to a subscription to gain additional features.

    Will there be a SkyTrak 2?

    There have been numerous rumors over the years, but nothing has been announced. As of August 2022, GolfTec purchased SkyTrak, which I would assume means there will be some continued development after making a large investment.

    Conclusion

    Pros

    • It can be used inside or outside
    • Includes excellent driving range software
    • Works with multiple simulator software packages
    • Lower priced simulator makes accurate golf simulators more accessible to consumers

    Cons

    • Initial setup can be confusing
    • Can become disconnected or have an occasional misread
    • It doesn’t provide full club data
    • Requires a subscription for most features
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    SkyTrak – 4.7/5

    SkyTrak brings accurate golf simulation to the consumer market. While still expensive, it has the features that most people need in a home simulator at a lower price point. Once up and running, it performs excellently and provides hours of entertainment.

  4. Arccos Caddie Review (Improve Your Golf Game with Data)

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    The Arccos Caddie & Smart Sensors will track every golf shot you hit and give you the data needed to improve your game. In this Arccos Caddie review, I’ll cover how the system works and how I use it to change my golf practice and play strategies.

    arccos caddie review - phone and golf club

    Arccos Caddie Overview

    The Arccos Caddie system uses sensors placed on each of your golf clubs, emitting a sound when a golf ball is struck. This event is logged into the Arccos app and mapped to a GPS location on the course. By collecting this data over a round of golf, you’ll have an accurate log of all your shots placed on a course map.

    The best part is that once you install the sensors and the app is started, this happens automatically.

    After playing, the iPhone or Android app will help you analyze this data to find your strengths and weaknesses over a single or multiple rounds of golf.

    Arccos Equipment Options

    There are several different options to get started with using the Arccos system, which I’ve tested and outlined below.

    arccos smart grips vs smart sensors

    Smart Sensor Options

    You’ll first need a set of Arccos Smart Sensors for your clubs. There are two options:

    • Arccos Smart Grips – These are grips with the sensors built directly into them and require regripping clubs or purchasing new clubs.
    • Arccos Smart Sensors – These screw into the hole at the end of any existing club grip you use.

    If you’re in the market for new clubs, several manufacturers have the option of shipping with Arccos Smart Grips. These include Ping, TaylorMade, and Cobra. I initially started using the Arccos system when I purchased new Ping irons. If you buy these clubs, you’ll be able to request the screw-in sensors for the remainder of your bag (driver, woods, putter, etc.).

    You can also purchase these grips and use them when regripping your clubs. They come in Golf Pride MCC Plus4 or Tour Velvet models with a standard or midsize option. I’ve had my irons for several years and have recently regripped them with Tour Velvet Arccos Smart Grips.

    If you want to play with existing clubs instead of regripping, you can purchase a set of Arccos Smart Sensors and screw them into the ends of your clubs.

    The choice between the two is mostly your preference. I’ve used both, and they work equally well. The grips are streamlined, but the screw-in sensors can quickly move to different clubs. There are also batteries in the sensors that will eventually wear out; however, my clubs needed to be regripped before I had any issues with the battery life.

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    If you’re changing the clubs in your bag often, you may benefit from having the screw-in sensors (at least for the clubs you’re changing).

    Once you’ve got the sensors on your clubs, you’ll open the Arccos app and use the phone’s camera to scan each club and match the club number to the installed sensor.

    Arccos Caddie on Phone vs. Watch vs. Link

    Once your clubs have sensors, you’ll need a method to store your shot data. Arccos offers an app that works with iPhone (iOS) or Android. It’s subscription-based, but you get a free year when activating a new subscription ($12.99/mo after that). You can also use the app on an Apple Watch or Android Wearable. Finally, you can purchase an Arccos Link to clip to your belt and avoid keeping your device on you while hitting shots.

    arccos caddie rangefinder on an iphone

    Arccos Caddie Phone App

    I’ve used my iPhone the most of any tracking option to log my golf rounds. It works nearly perfectly with a few exceptions. My typical process with the phone is to play a hole (referring to the map or yardages if desired) and then check the accuracy of my score and possibly move the pin location after finishing the hole. Typically, I only need to adjust the number of putts (as it doesn’t know if you’ve taken a gimmie, or if you’re too quick, it may not register a tap-in).

    Pros

    • I’ve experienced very few, if any, mistakes in tracking shots.
    • Access all the app features while playing, including club recommendations, GPS, and maps.

    Cons

    • You must keep your phone in your front pocket, which bothers some people.
    • It uses your phone’s mic/speaker to listen for shots, so you cannot play music simultaneously.
    arccos caddie rangefinder on an apple watch

    Arccos Watch App

    I haven’t used the Arccos Apple Watch app much to track my rounds, as I had some issues getting accurate shot recordings.

    Pros

    • Convenient for those who already wear a watch.
    • Easy to quickly see yardage to green and suggested club.
    • It’s easy to adjust the number of putts taken.

    Cons

    • It can be challenging to start a round and doesn’t always track shots accurately.
    • You will need a phone if you want to see the hole map.
    • It can be awkward to wear a watch while playing.
    • Tracking drains the watch battery quickly.
    arccos link clipped on pocket with grass background

    Arccos Link

    I’ve been using the Arccos Link to track some of my latest rounds, and it works great as long as it’s not windy. Of course, you’ll also want a phone available in the cart or nearby to check that the data stored is correct. Typically all that needs adjusting is the putts (like mentioned in the phone app).

    Pros

    • You don’t need a device on your wrist or in your pocket, just this lightweight clip-on you won’t even notice.
    • Lets you click the button to set the pin location for tracking approach shots and putting.
    • It allows you to use the speaker on your phone to play music.

    Cons

    • I’ve had it not pick up some shots when it’s very windy.
    • You’ll need a phone nearby to check that your data was recorded correctly, see the map, check the distance, or update putts.

    I typically walk most rounds using a push cart, and the Link combined with mounting my phone to the cart gives me the best combination for tracking. If I were riding in a cart, I’d go this same route. If I were carrying my bag, I’d probably opt to keep my phone in my pocket for tracking.

    Arccos Caddie Subscription Cost

    Arccos Caddie is free for the first year of membership to new members. After that, you can renew the subscription at a yearly rate of $155.88 ($12.99 per month).

    Playing a Round of Golf

    Playing a round of golf using the Arccos Caddie is simple.

    1. Start up the app and choose the course you’ll be playing. See the list of over 40,000 courses available (I’ve yet to play one that wasn’t available). You’ll want to start the app a bit before you tee off so it can download the course map, but after that, it’ll save it to your phone.
    2. Select what device you’ll be using to track the round (phone, watch, or Link).
    3. Select the tee box that you’ll be playing and start the round.
    4. Hit your first shot and check to ensure the app says that a shot was detected.
    arccos caddie app while playing golf

    During the Round

    While playing a round with Arccos, you can decide how much you want to interact with the app. You could even ignore it entirely and go in after the round to ensure everything is recorded correctly (it’ll be very close, but putts or penalties may need to be adjusted). Here are some useful features you might want to check out:

    • Look at the hole map to know where the trouble (like sand traps and water) is and plan out your shots.
    • Check the GPS to the green’s front, middle, and back. It also includes a smart distance number for wind, slope, temperature, humidity, and altitude changes.
    • Once you’ve played enough rounds for Arccos to know your club distances, you’ll get a suggested club to hit and see the distances for other clubs.

    Editing Rounds

    You can edit your round of golf either during the round or after completing the round. I usually make a few quick edits (if needed) after I finish each hole. The interface is easy to use. To make changes, you click an edit button and then can add a penalty, move the position of a shot, add a new shot, move the location of the pin, or edit the number of putts.

    In most cases, the only thing I need to change is the number of putts and the pin placement. If you’re hitting two shots from about the same location (like if you didn’t get out of a sand trap on the first try), you may need to add a new shot. And if you hit a ball into a penalty area or need to drop a shot, you simply edit whichever shot went poorly and select a number of strokes to add.

    A couple of minor issues with the editor include:

    • It can be difficult to add and place shots that are very close to each other
    • If you’re using the Link and walking back to the cart, you’ll have to wait a second for the data to sync up before making edits, or you may end up with extra strokes.
    arccos caddie scorecard

    Reviewing a Round

    Once you’ve completed a round, you can view your entire scorecard, which includes how many fairways you hit, how many putts you took, and how far your first putt was on each hole. You can also edit the round at any point and review your shots hole-by-hole on the map. This is a handy way to see how far you hit different shots or see how you might approach things differently in the future.

    You’ll also get detailed statistics on your round that will tell you precisely what you did well and what didn’t go so well. This is broken down by driving, approach, short game, and putting. Even if you know that you weren’t driving the ball well, you might uncover some elements of your game that went unnoticed where you might find more significant wins. Once you have some rounds logged, you’ll also see how you played in each focus area compared to your last five rounds.

    How to Use Arccos Caddie Data to Improve Your Golf Game

    In this Arccos Caddie review, I’ve covered how the system works, but it’s the data and insights that really shine.

    What are Strokes Gained?

    Arccos uses a shot scoring system called “strokes gained” to evaluate the impact of any individual shot on the overall score in a round of golf. This system is comparable to the changes in baseball (see the movie Moneyball) and basketball using big data. For example, getting a base hit in baseball may be more valuable than a single home run. And in basketball, the additional risk of a three-point shot may be more valuable than a two-pointer.

    Analysis shows that approach shots separate the best and average players in golf. Of course, it’s still essential to have a well-rounded game, but good putting tends to have less impact on the overall score than hitting an iron shot close to the pin.

    Traditional statistics like counting putts or greens in regulation can be informative but deceptive. Strokes gained scoring eliminates this issue by taking all shots into account. For example, you might hit 45 putts (less than ideal) and think you’re a bad putter, but using strokes gained, you might see that your approach shots are inaccurate, leading to long, tricky lag putts. In this case, working on your approaches will lower your number of three-putts.

    If you want to dig into all the data around how this works, you can check out the book Every Shot Counts by Mark Broadie.

    Round Data

    When looking at your stroke gained round data, you can choose to view any single round or an average of how you’ve been playing recently. Scoring is broken down into focus areas of driving, approach, short game, and putting. In addition, the strokes gained score can be based on your current handicap or your target handicap (which helps emphasize where you’ll need to make improvements).

    arccos caddie round data

    Each focus area has its own data to help you determine why you’re gaining or losing strokes. These will help show which direction you’re missing (right, left, short, or long), the length of putt or approach you have the most trouble with, and your scoring trends over time.

    You can leverage this data to determine where you have the most to gain based on what is typical for your handicap. From there, you can choose where to focus your practice time to improve. For example, you might focus on an area where you’re losing strokes or see a correction you could make to boost an area where you’re just average.

    Club Distances

    Arccos will track all of your shots and determine how far you typically hit each club (while excluding bad shots). This will give you a realistic picture of how far you can expect a shot to fly.

    Arccos Caddie club distances

    It’s common for amateurs to expect a club to go your maximum distance from a perfect strike without realizing your average is less than this number. This leaves a high percentage short of the green and rarely over or on the backside of the green. By taking the correct club, you’re going to improve the percentage of shots reaching your target.

    Conclusion

    Pros

    • Easy to use while on the course
    • Provides insights for improvement that are hard to find anywhere else
    • Access to shots gained data that is used by the pros

    Cons

    • Editing experience can be a little difficult
    • Putting isn’t always accurate and needs to be checked
    arccos caddie thumbnail

    Arccos Caddie – 4.5/5

    The Arccos Caddie has improved immensely over previous shot tracking systems. There is a bit of a learning curve to get started on your first round, but with a bit of patience, all golfers can find opportunities to fine-tune their game and shoot lower scores.

  5. LAB Directed Force 2.1 Putter Review

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    In this L.A.B. Directed Force 2.1 putter review, we’ll look at one of the strangest putters you’ve ever seen and describe how the innovative technology behind it can improve your putting. After using this putter, I finally feel confident that I can hit the line I intend and give the ball an excellent chance to drop into the hole.

    lab directed force putter side view

    The Technology Behind the LAB Putter

    L.A.B. Golf uses two innovative technologies in their putters, “Lie Angle Balance” and “Forward Press Technology,” to simplify the process of making a consistent putt.

    What is Lie Angle Balance? (L.A.B)

    Lie Angle Balance eliminates torque (twisting of the putter face) as the putter swings to return the face to the intended target line. This makes it easier to repeat the same putting stroke.

    L.A.B. Golf created a tool called the “revealer” to test this balancing where it’s noticeable that other putters spin in a variety of ways when stroked without hand manipulation (see the video below).

    The idea is that with a traditional putter, in addition to having a constant putting setup and stroke, you also need to use your hands to ensure that the face of the putter returns to square when it’s fighting against you. Having a Lie Angle Balance putter eliminates this factor and makes putting simpler.

    Forward Press Technology

    The second unique technology behind the L.A.B. putter is the Forward Press Technology built into its grip.

    Some of the best golfers on the P.G.A. Tour (Phil Mickelson, for example) have used a forward press in their putting stroke. This technique involves leaning the putter, so your hands are ahead of the face at setup to prevent the tendency of flipping the hands at impact. This helps ensure the ball rolls smoothly by maintaining the face angle and loft through contact.

    This is a helpful technique, but it does require some effort to master and an extra step in your putting routine.

    L.A.B. Golf has built the forward press into their putter grips by pre-setting the shaft at an ideal lean angle. This means you can set up without thinking about the forward press, and you’ll be doing it automatically.

    How to Get Fitted for a LAB Putter

    If you’re interested in trying out a L.A.B. putter, you’ll want to get fitted. If you’ve never been fit for a putter before, the goal is to make sure the putter is suited to your specific putting setup.

    This is particularly important for a L.A.B. putter as you want to let the technology help you make a consistent putting stroke. If you’re using the incorrect lie angle, you’ll have to setup unnaturally or add some manipulations to get the consistency you’d have with a properly fitted putter.

    You have two options for getting fit. You can go in person to one of L.A.B. Golf’s certified fitters, which you can find on this map, or you can do a remote fitting through their website by sending in a video of your current putting stance.

    I did a remote fitting through their website, which was simple to set up, and after a couple of days, they emailed back with recommendations for lengths and lie angles of a custom-built putter or a stock putter. As I’ll go into more detail below, you can have your putter custom-built to your specs with custom alignment marks, or for a lower price, you can buy one of their pre-made stock putters. It happened that my recommended setup matched a stock offering (34″ / 67°).

    I was interested in trying the putter out in person before investing, so I went to both a local P.G.A. Superstore and a local used and new club seller, 2nd Swing, to see what they had in stock.

    lab directed force 2.1 top view

    On Course Performance

    When I initially checked some local stores, they didn’t have a putter with my exact specs available, so I tested out a few putters, primarily a 69° Directed Force 2.1 with a Press 1.L grip. Eventually, I purchased a putter that fit my specs at 67° with a Press II grip.

    Looks

    As everyone will note, just looking at the putter is much different than whatever putter you’re used to. The putter head is giant but doesn’t feel heavy or awkward to swing. The press grip also makes the shaft align differently than you’re used to looking down the club, but once you focus on the ball, you won’t notice it.

    You might get some comments from your playing partners for bringing out an ‘alien’ putter, but ultimately who cares if you can make some putts. I initially heard some of these comments, but it wasn’t long before they were looking into purchasing their own L.A.B. Putters.

    Feel

    Hitting this putter feels fantastic. It’s surprisingly well balanced and feels light compared to how it looks. The ball rolls smoothly off the face on nearly every putt—everyone I’ve given the putter to try out comments on this.

    Putters like the Evnroll have this feel by extending the sweet spot. Once you’re used to the Directed Force, the balancing makes it easier to return the face to the starting position, ensuring you’re hitting the center of the face aimed at your line.

    Results

    I’ve struggled a lot with putting over the years, going on hot and cold streaks. I had a lot of success with a belly putter, but after they were no longer legal, I couldn’t find a replacement that I could be as consistent with. So when I tested out the Directed Force that didn’t match my specs, the feel was great, but the results were not much better than my current putter, even if it felt better overall.

    I track my rounds with an Arccos, and it was evident that putting was most often the determining factor on if I had a low round. I was the king of the tap-in, with good speed and distance control, but always just missed the hole. There is nothing worse than hitting an incredible drive, reaching the green in regulation, and then missing what should be an easy putt.

    Then I switched to a putter that matched my specs and immediately saw improvement. At that point, I had the feeling that I could relax and putt on any line that I intended and just needed to adjust my speed and line for how the new putter rolled the ball. The easy putts that I’d been just missing have been dropping more often, and after some practice, I’ve been dropping in more long putts as well.

    lab directed force putter bottom

    Tips for Putting with the Directed Force 2.1

    There are a couple of things you’ll need to adjust as you putt with the Directed Force 2.1 compared to a traditional putter. These tips helped my setup and my lag putting.

    1. With the forward press grip you’ll need to change where the ball is placed in your stance by moving it about a ball forward. On a typical putter the shaft is placed near the face where-as on these the shaft is set further back. Test out this alignment on a straight putt until you’ve found a position where you’re consistent.
    2. If you’re a decent putter with your current putter of choice, you’re probably doing some manipulation of the face with your hands. You will no longer need to do that with this putter, and you can work on this feeling by lifting your thumbs off the grip as you practice putting. This makes it hard to twist with your hands and helps you get the correct feeling once you put your thumbs back.
    3. As with any putter change, lag putting to a bit to get dialed-in. This putter rolls the ball very smoothly, and this can minimize the effect of a breaking putt if your current putter isn’t rolling as well. If you’re missing on the high side of the hole, try taking out just a bit of the break and aiming more at the hole than you might typically.
    4. Finally, another helpful tip for lag putting is to make sure you’re letting the length of your stroke control the distance of your putt. If you’re trying to hit the ball harder it’s going to be difficult to not manipulate the putter face and risk putting it off-line.

    Putter Options

    The L.A.B. Directed Force 2.1 comes in black, red, and blue and is typically paired with one of three press grips. The stock putter comes with the Press II 3° grip, but you can customize it with the larger, elliptical Press 1.L grip, or the heavier Press OG 3.0.

    When purchasing a custom putter, you can also select between additional shaft options, including arm-lock and broomstick style putters, and a wide variety of alignment marks.

    If you prefer the look and feel of a blade putter, you can also look into their B.2 model, which incorporates the same technologies into a blade-style putter.

    One significant hesitation to buying this putter is the cost. Currently, the range is $399 for a stock model and $549 for a custom putter. Fortunately, the resale value is good, and you hopefully have some opportunities to test it out before investing. I’ve seen others note that people don’t balk at paying this for a driver, and you’ll use your putter more than any other club in your bag, which is a great point.

    Conclusion

    Pros

    • Removes torque to make consistent putting easier
    • Feels great and rolls the ball smoothly
    • Smooth fitting process and company cares deeply about its product and customers

    Cons

    • Initial look of the putter takes some getting used to
    • Requires some minor setup and stroke changes
    • This is an expensive putter
    lab directed force product

    LAB Directed Force 2.1 – 4.5/5

    The Directed Force 2.1 is an excellent putter that feels great and will likely help most amateur golfers improve their game. Once you get past the club’s look and adapt your stroke, it’s a sure winner.

    LAB Putters on Tour

    L.A.B. Putters haven’t become a common sight on tour at this point. However, several players have been testing them out; most famously, Adam Scott used one a few years ago. Likely, this is due to this putter being a pretty significant change from typical putters, pros using clubs from sponsorships, and not wanting to risk a change at such a high level. Simplifying the factors needed to make a good putt will certainly help amateurs, where pros have spent countless hours perfecting every part of their putting stroke.

  6. The Best Golf Gifts

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    We’ve gathered some of our favorite golf products to help you find the perfect golf gifts for any golfer on your Christmas (or other) list. But, of course, if you want to buy a few of these gifts for yourself, we won’t blame you!

    best golf gifts

    Golf Gear for the Course

    First off, here is some of our favorite gear for the course. These are some essential gear to have a comfortable, enjoyable round of golf. We’ve sorted each category by price from low to high so that you can find something in any price range.

    Pro Tee System Golf Tees

    Pro Tee System Golf Tees

    Golf tees make a great inexpensive gift. Standard tees may be a bit boring, but these tees are sure to inspire a little more interest. They’re made of plastic, so they don’t break, but they also have a colored marking making it easier to set your tee to the same height every time you’re on the tee box.

    They come in three sizes, blue being a good choice for those with modern drivers who tee it up high, yellow for those teeing up lower or hitting smaller woods.

    $8


    golf towel set

    Golf Towel Set

    Golf towels are essential for cleaning off clubs during a round, as well as wiping off sweat or cleaning your hands. These microfiber towels are perfect for all these uses and come with a clip to attach to your golf bag.

    As a bonus, they also include a divot tool and a cleaning brush that can also be attached to a golf bag for when things need a deeper clean.

    $22


    Titleist pro v1 golf balls

    Golf Balls

    Golf balls might be an obvious choice for a golfer, but you really can’t go wrong with this gift. Golfers will burn through golf balls and always appreciate having more.

    Depending on where you purchase them, you can customize the golf balls with a word or image.

    If possible, take a look in your golfer’s bag to see what type of golf balls they use. As a golfer gets better, it’s more likely that they have specific brand loyalty. Some great options include:

    • Titleist Pro V1 – This is a premium golf ball that you can’t go wrong with.
    • Vice – A well-branded golf ball with customization options. Try the Vice Pro for most golfers and the Pro Plus for better golfers with a high swing-speed.
    • Callaway ChromeSoft – A softer feel high-quality golf ball.

    $49 | Titleist


    golf polos

    Golf Polos

    You can never go wrong with a new golf shirt. Travis Matthew is a playful brand with some funny branded t-shirts and a full range of golf clothing. Peter Millar is a premium clothing brand with comfortable fabrics.

    Other brands to check out include Greyson and Rhoback. And if you like the funny t-shirts from Travis Matthew, check out Swing Juice.

    $79-90


    puma ignite golf shoes

    Golf Shoes

    Golf shoes have gotten much more stylish over the years, and if your golfer has some outdated shoes, they’ll appreciate a refresh. These Puma Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes are some of the most popular options and come in various colors. I have been using them over the past season, and they do a great job of holding your foot tight and gripping the ground.

    $149


    golf push carts

    Push Cart

    If your golfer is a walker, there’s nothing better than having a pushcart. It keeps the stress off your shoulders so you can keep swinging for 18+ holes and makes getting the health benefits of walking more attractive. These are two popular cart options, the Clicgear being the more expensive better-built option and the CaddyTek being a cheaper but well-reviewed option. It probably just comes down to your price range and how often you’ll use it.

    Both of these pushcarts come in various colors and have accessories like storage, beverage, and umbrella holders.

    $319 / $189

    Golf Technology

    These golf gifts are the envy of any techie or gearhead. Technology can bring your golf game to the next level!

    bushnell golf speaker

    Bluetooth Speaker

    If you’re out to have some fun on the golf course, there’s nothing like having an excellent speaker to play some tunes! This Bushnell speaker not only has great sound, but it has some golf-specific features, like a magnet so it can mount to the frame of a golf cart and a rage-finder that can read out the GPS distance to the hole.

    $129


    arccos smart caddie

    Arccos Caddie Sensors

    Arccos is an incredible tool for understanding and improving your golf game. The package includes a set of sensors that screw into your golf clubs and send data to an app on each shot.

    This lets the app map out your entire golf round so you can learn which club to use, what parts of your game are going well, and where you can improve.

    $179


    range finders

    Range Finders

    A range finder is a handy tool to have out on the course to get an exact distance to the pin or some other target (e.g., how far is the sand trap). The great thing about modern range finders is that they are faster to lock onto a target, suggest distances based on slope, and even adapt to weather and altitude on more expensive models.

    Here are two of the top range finders in different price ranges. The Bushnell has the top quality optics and all the latest features, and the Precision Pro has a good feature set for a smaller price.

    $479 / $199

    Training Aids

    These gifts are great for anyone who is looking to improve their game.

    orange whip

    Orange Whip Swing Trainer

    The orange whip is a long-time favorite golf training aid. It helps practice the golf swing and improve rhythm, balance, tempo, strength, and flexibility.

    $109


    perfect practice putting mat

    Perfect Practice Putting Mat

    You may have seen this mat as endorsed by pro golfer Dustin Johnson. Unlike most putting mats, it’s a great design that looks classy. It’s the perfect addition to a home office or living room. It comes in two variations, one with two targets and a smaller version with one.

    $109 – $139


    superspeed golf speed training

    SuperSpeed Golf Training System

    The SuperSpeed training system helps train your body and brain to swing the golf club faster and hit further. There have been many tour pros using this system to increase their distances, and you can do the same from the comfort of your home by following training videos with these weighted clubs.

    $199

    Fun Gifts

    These golf gift ideas aren’t exactly for the golf course, but rather some fun golf-related things to do.

    top golf

    Top Golf Gift Card

    If you have a Top Golf in your area, this is an excellent gift for a golfer to get some relaxing practice in. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s like a bowling alley meets driving range with various game types you can play.

    $25+


    chippo game

    Chippo – Chipping Game

    This game combines chipping in golf with cornhole (aka bags). Use your wedge to chip the foam golf balls into the holes on the boards to earn points. A fun game for the backyard, park, or beach; plus, you can work on your golf skills simultaneously.

    $149

    Books and Magazines

    Finally, if you’re gifting to a reader, these are some of the best golf reads around!

    harvey penick's little red book

    Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book

    This is a classic golf book loved by players and fans of golf. It discusses the core of golf instruction—a must-read.

    Some other great golf books include:

    $20


    golf magazine

    Golf Magazine

    It’s fun to receive something new to read in the mail, and Golf Magazine is a good choice for covering tips, courses, news, gear, and pros. It’s a pretty broad mixture of things and always a good read.

    $30

  7. Tee Claw Review

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    The Tee Claw is a multi-purpose golf accessory that allows you to hit real golf tees off a mat, provides an anchor for plastic tees on a simulator setup, and even works as an alignment tool on the range or the putting green.

    tee claw review

    How does the Tee Claw work?

    The Tee Claw includes four claws that can twist into grass or a mat, and then you can place a tee into the center. The package also includes five lanyards that can be attached to a claw and used as a bungee for another tee device or another claw to use as an alignment aid.

    Using a Tee Claw on the Driving Range

    Have you’ve ever gone to the driving range expecting to hit off the grass and been disappointed to find out you’ll need to hit off mats, and even worse, you’ll be hitting off an awkward rubber tee?

    The Tee Claw is the ultimate solution to hitting off golf mats.

    Its claws allow it to be embedded into the turf so you can place a tee into the center of it and it stays put as you hit balls. So now you can tee the ball up to your preferred height with your preferred tees. It works with any standard size tee, plastic or wood, and even broken tees you find on the range.

    How well does it work?

    I’ve found that the claws do a great job of staying put in the ground over many hits, and you only occasionally may need to twist them in to tighten. Depending on how you’re striking the ball, the tees may still break, bend, or fly as they would on a typical tee-into-grass setup.

    If the mat you’re hitting on is firm, you’ll find that because the tee doesn’t sink into the turf, it will sit up higher than expected. To overcome this issue, you can use standard-size tees (instead of taller, driver tees) or cut down tees to a specific size. I’ve found a snips works great to make these cuts.

    light bulb - tip icon

    Cut down some golf tees and size them up using the Tee Claw on the carpet. Once you’ve cut the perfect size, use that as a template to make some copies. Then keep them in your bag for the next time you’re at the range.

    I have yet to have any issues with wear-and-tear, so a pack of these should last you a long time. I’d imagine hitting irons with these may slowly wear down the plastic barbs, but they’re pretty sturdy depending on your angle of attack.

    Using the Tee Claw as a Training Aid

    If you’ve ever taken golf training seriously, you’ve likely used an alignment stick or some other method of making sure you’re aiming where you intend. The Tee Claw can function as an alternative to the alignment stick and do things that an alignment stick isn’t well suited for. Some benefits include:

    • Small and easy to transport in a golf bag or carry
    • Can be placed closer to a golf ball without damaging something if it’s accidentally hit
    • Stays in place vs an alignment stick which can be moved if bumped
    • Lines can be crossed over each other

    Here are some ideas of how they can be used (if you have other ideas that you’ve found helpful, share them in the comments below):

    Feet and Ball Alignment

    Align one or two sets of claws and lanyards parallel to each other, pointed in the direction of your target. This ensures you’re correctly aligning your feet to eliminate a potential factor in missed shots.

    feet alignment

    Ball Placement

    Place one claw set pointed toward the target and the other from between your feet toward the ball. Use this line to ensure proper ball placement for the club type you’re using or to practice different alignments (e.g., driving with the ball farther forward).

    ball placement alignment

    Club Path

    Either tee up the ball on one claw with the lanyard and other claw behind it along your intended club path, or place the first claw behind the ball if you’re hitting off the ground. This can be useful for visualizing your path or testing out the effect of changing your path.

    club path alignment

    Putting

    You can use the tee claw as an alignment tool for your feet similar to on the driving range or as a chute to help align your putter path and help make sure you’re squaring the face and rolling the ball down your intended line.

    tee claw putter alignment

    Using the Tee Claw as an Anchor on a Golf Simulator

    Tee Claws are a popular product for golf simulator users who want to use alternative types of golf tees. These tees are typically plastic cage-type tees that don’t break (though they wear out over time) and offer a consistent height. These work great if you don’t have a built-in teeing system, prefer not to use the Tee Claw as described above, or don’t have a mat that already accepts tees.

    The Tee Claw functions as an anchor between the cage tee and the mat to prevent it from flying off and being chased down after every shot.

    tee claw for golf simulator

    I use this setup on my home simulator as it’s a speedy way to keep the tee in place and ready to go. I have had the lanyard slowly fray and break over time, but it can be cut and re-tied onto the cage for continued use. You can also purchase additional lanyards if necessary, but after a ton of use, I have yet to need to do this.

    Some popular alternative tees that work for this setup include:

    Conclusion

    Pros

    • Makes using tees on golf mats easy
    • A helpful tool for alignment practice
    • Durable and easy to use

    Cons

    • If you’re actively hitting the lanyards they slowly break down over time
    • Alignment sticks provide a slightly larger visual
    tee claw product thumbnail

    Tee Claw – 4.5/5

    The Tee Claw is beneficial for various purposes and highly recommended for any golfer who hates hitting off mats with plastic “tube-tees” or wants to practice their alignment without traditional sticks.