Monday, March 06, 2006

"Tour Tempo" vs. The Swing-Setter

It's hard to compare a golf book with a golf 'gizmo' but these two very different offerings have (I think) the same objective.

John Novosel's book, Tour Tempo (DoubleDay), has the general premise that we swing too slowly, particularly in the backswing. Novosel used his digital movie camera and his laptop computer to time the swings of top players and found that they all followed the same general rhythm: that their downswing took one-third the number of camera frames as their backswing and that their full swing was much quicker than the amateur's. (In general, we're close to speed coming down, but some 30% slow going back.) He's packaged that in a CD loaded with sound tracks that you can swing to, in order to reprogram your own timing.

David Leadbetter's Swing Setter would seem to be something quite different. It's a pseudo golf club... a training device. It's shorter than a 5-iron, weighs 50% more, has a molded training grip, and no actual club head — just a plastic ball on it's tip. The main feature are the two 'balls' that are mounted along the shaft, spaced equally between the end of the grip and the tip. The 'balls' are actually split in half (the upper half fixed in place) and held together by adjustable magnets. Fully loaded up with gimmicks, the club also has a six inch pointer that extends out the butt of the grip and a simulated club-head that attaches to the shaft right below the grip. It comes with a very well-done DVD training lecture as well

When you use Novosel's sound tracks, if you're the typical amateur, you'll find that the swing he's advocating is very fast. You'll hear three 'beeps,' one to start your backswing, a second for the transition down, and the last for impact. You'll have to both hustle and shorten your backswing to conform to that second beep.

(The speed is impossible to convey in words, so I'll include a short sound track in my next podcast (#19) that will be posted later this week.)

Leadbetter's gizmo has the same objective. The upper ball has weaker magnets and your objective is to 'snap' that ball apart on the backswing (gravity re-sets the ball at the top) You then snap both balls at impact on the downswing. To snap the upper ball, you'll find that your backswing has to be brisk and your wrists have to whip the club into a set position at waist height. Depending on how strongly you've set the magnets, snapping the second ball at impact will require you to really throw the club through impact... a full and violent release.

Tour Tempo is $25, while Leabetter's Swing Setter is $120. For my money, the Swing Setter is far superior. Leadbetter provides a series of drills that you can do in front of your TV in about 10 minutes. You'll build your golf muscles, and you'll get a new sense for both swing path and for the mechanics of a full release.

If any of you have experience with either product, this would be the time and place for you to post a comment.