The Gold Flex swing trainer from SKLZ is another in a long line of golf aids. Golfers have turned to devices like this for so long and to such silly lengths that it has become a farce. Think Kevin Costner and Rene Russo in the movie Tin Cup.
It would be easy then to laugh this swing trainer off as just another useless gimmick. Before you do, you should know this: This thing actually works. How it does so is through some interesting engineering. The Gold Flex has an extremely flexible shaft with a weight attached to the end where a club face would normally be.
That shaft and the weight at the end make it obvious when you swing incorrectly. This training aid doesn’t even need instructions. Just start swinging away and you notice your flawed swing right away.
The Gold Flex comes in two different lengths, 40 inches and 48 inches. Ostensibly, this is so golfers of different heights can both benefit, with anyone shorter than 5-foot-10 advised to choose the shorter one. It seems logical that the shorter Gold Flex might be better for those looking to improve their iron play, and the longer one for drivers.
Here’s the thing: because modern drivers are so lightweight, it is easy to get off track on your tempo and path with the driver. For that reason, the 48-inch Gold Flex is likely the better choice. Now let’s look at its two main functions.
The proper tempo in a golf swing produces a majestic appearing swing, one where the golfer appears to not be exerting himself at all, yet produces a powerful result.
It’s important to note the difference between swing speed and swing tempo. Your club head will not, and should not, be traveling at the same speed throughout the swing. If you are swinging correctly, the club head will reach its peak speed somewhere at or near the bottom of the swing, when you make contact.
A proper swing tempo will help you keep the club shaft and your hands in the proper position during the swing. At impact, your hands should be ahead of the ball, with the shaft at an angle relative to the ground. This is a power position. Should the club head get ahead of your hand, you will be robbed of that power and produce weak shots.
There are numerous ways tempo can go wrong in your swing, but two of them deserve more attention.
One is when you do not have a proper transition at the top of your swing. There should be an ever-so-slight pause at the top of your swing, as your hands lead the club head to the ball. Golfers must fight the urge to add speed by jerking the club with your hands. Use your hips instead to turn your body.
Many professional golfers struggle with tempo, so don’t feel alone. It has become popular among East Asian golfers to have a dramatic pause at the top of the backswing. While this will ensure your transition will not be jerky, it is too far in the other direction and is difficult to repeat.
The extreme flex in the shaft of the Gold Flex, along with the weighted end, works to help you get proper tempo. It does this by dramatically displaying what goes wrong with a bad tempo, in that the club head will get way ahead of the shaft. It is virtually impossible to swing the Gold Flex with a poor tempo.
If you watch a golfer swing from behind, you can easily see the angle of his swing relative to the ground. Taller golfers often have more upright swings and shorter golfers often have shallower swings.
In recent years, golfers have learned that a shallow swing produces better results, at least for many golfers. This is undoubtedly true for high handicappers. The reason being that poor golfers typically struggle with a slice, and a shallow swing helps to eliminate the slice.
You can succeed with an upright swing, many golfers do. But you cannot do so when you are coming over the top or casting the club, common mistakes seen in upright swings.
Coming over the top simply means you are hitting the ball with an outside-to-inside motion on the downswing. This move produces slices. Even if you have a fade and not a full-on slice, it will still produce a weak fade with very little power.
Casting the club is when you break your wrist before contact and the head of the club gets past your hands at impact. This will induce a high and weak ball flight. A high launch is not necessarily bad (except in windy conditions) but when you cast your club, the ball has a tendency to roll off the club face. This means no penetrating ball flight, robbing you of distance.
When you think of a shallow swing, imagine the palm of your dominant hand facing skyward at the top of your backswing.
The design of the Gold Flex helps cure you of both those flaws, as its heavy weight at the end and extreme flex in the shaft work against improper swings.
At first glance, the SKLZ Gold Flex may not bestow confidence that it can help your swing very much. But this is among the best swing trainers on the market. For the price, it yields remarkable value.
It also doubles as a warmup tool. Before you begin each round, take about 20 swings or so with the Gold Flex. This will help train your body to take the correct motion and tempo with you to the course. It’s perfectly legal to keep the Gold Flex in your bag, so no need to run back to your car or locker to store it. It is, however, illegal to use it during play, at least during a tournament.
If you are a golfer and have even the slightest idea that you want to improve your swing, you would be foolish not to buy the Gold Flex.