One in a weekly series of stories about golf gear to run each Wednesday.
There are three basic ways to miss a putt. Trust me, I should know: Misread the line; hit the putt on line but with the wrong speed (you left it short again?); and my personal favorite: hit the putt off line.
The solution for the first two is practice, practice, practice. The solution for the latter, however, may be Hole More Putts, the first portable device to thoroughly analyze the putting stroke.
Touring professionals have had access to high-tech putting data for years. I’ve gone through the TaylorMade putting lab in Carlsbad, Calif., for instance, and it was beyond cool. But most of us average hacks don’t have that opportunity.
The Hole More Putts device, or HMP, changes that. It can help golfers answer the big question that most recreational players can’t answer: Why do I miss putts?
HMP can pinpoint the real reason for ineptitude. It measures five key areas of putting: face angle, impact point, path, angle of attack and speed.
Here’s how it works: The HMP is about the size of a tablet or iPad. Tee up a ball on an indentation of the HMP, line up to a target and make a stroke. The HMP provides instant feedback. After five putts, it rates you on a scale of 100. Do five five-putt sets and build a database of 25 putts, then connect the HMP to your phone or PC and get an analysis that identifies your fault trends, plus suggestions on how to correct them and video tips.
The HMP is small and portable, so you can travel with it and use it in a hotel room. Or you can set it up on the kitchen floor, if you want. It’s a nifty gadget, based on infrared technology, that putting instructors will love, yet it’s simple enough for the average recreational golfer.
The HMP was introduced last January in the New Exhibitor section at the PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
“We were overwhelmed by the positive feedback we got,” said Robert Slade-Baker, HMP’s head of business development. “We didn’t expect such a big reception.”
Heeding some suggestions from show-goers, the HMP crew tweaked the product slightly and delayed launching the new-and-improved version until July in the United Kingdom. It recently went on sale in the U.S. for $499, available at HoleMorePutts.com. Hole More Putts will be returning for the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, scheduled for Jan. 23-26 in Orlando.
“The three target areas we’re looking at are the elite golfer, club professionals and teaching pros, and amateur golf enthusiasts, no matter their handicaps, who want the latest, greatest equipment,” Slade-Baker said. “This is invaluable for teaching pros. Although you can get an idea by looking at someone putt, but when you have the actual data, it’s quite interesting how many times it shows something other than what you originally thought.”
The goal, Slade-Baker said, is to provide simple solutions that are easy to implement using precise data.
“If you take 25 putts, as we suggest, you should be able to see the specific areas where you need to improve,” he said. “For the price of a driver, it gives consumers a chance to find out what’s going wrong with their strokes and where they can improve.”
When using the HMP in association with its app, the statistics easily seen on the HMP tablet screen are automatically sent to the user’s phone or PC. After 25 putts, it provides a diagnosis.
“Say you’ve got 25 different face angles on your 25 putts. It will identify the trend and highlight the specific area you need to work on,” Slade-Baker said. “If your putter face is consistently open but with only a small degree of variation, it may not recommend doing anything with your stroke but perhaps a putter-fitting instead to correct the issue. The app breaks the information down in a visual manner and gives you stroke-path videos so you can see what your path is doing.
“I had a guy last week who made a big figure-eight on his backstroke, and he didn’t realize how bad it was until he saw it on HMP. He went, ‘Oh, wow!’ The figure-eight path was causing his clubface to shut at impact. By reducing it, he was able to get his clubhead back to square at impact and improve his consistency.
“Our product is not intended to replace a teaching pro,” Slade-Baker said. “This is a tool to understand what’s going on. It’s even better in the hands of a teaching pro.”
I like the fact that I can use HMP on pretty much any flat surface, and it’s dummy-proof. Just put a ball on the tee spot, address it and when the light turns green, start putting.
The readout provides scores for the five key stat categories. After five putts, it gives you a putting grade – say, 77 out of 100. That number is a fun addition because you can use it to compete against yourself or turn it into a competition with friends, maybe even at a party.
FYI, adult beverages are not included with purchase.
Gary Van Sickle has covered golf since 1980 for Sports Illustrated and Golf.com, Golf World and The Milwaukee Journal. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @GaryVanSickle