The Swing Align training aid began as nothing more than a bungee cord and a stick, but has evolved into a versatile game improvement product
Everyone who plays golf knows the value of fundamentals. And it seems that when your game goes awry, it’s a return to basics that sets things right again. But without a teacher constantly available, you need some kind of help to validate what you’re seeing and feeling.
The developers of Swing Align believe their product can give you that second set of eyes. With a combination of arm cuffs, connection bands and bright green rods, Swing Align works on the fundamentals of alignment, rotation, swing plane and connection.
And it started in the mind of the inventor with a bungee cord holding a stick across his chest. Allan Strand was primarily a putting instructor on the PGA Tour and he designed a putter in the late 1990s that was called Dandy. Gil Morgan won 14 Champions Tour events with it starting in 1999.
Strand began to be interested in the full swing and started to develop the Swing Align with the help of players he knew on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, he contracted lung cancer and died in 2013 before he could see his project to completion.
Strand’s brother, Everett, wanted to finish Allan’s work and teamed with Chris McGinley, a highly respected golf equipment veteran, who spent 21 years at Titleist. McGinley immediately saw the value in the Swing Align and the company launched about a year ago.
The training device consists of two arm cuffs connected by an adjustable rubber strip. Each cuff has a hole through which a bright green rod can be inserted. When you slide the cuffs on each arm, the rod shows you in which direction your shoulders are aligned. But that’s just the start.
“The versatility is what sets Swing Align apart,” McGinley says. “All good golf swings start with alignment. So many golfers can't align where they think they want to hit the ball. They have trouble aligning their lower body and their upper body in the same direction. The fundamental nature of standing to the side of the ball and looking down at the target line, it’s easy to get your shoulders out of alignment with your lower body.
“Even the best players in the world struggle with it and that’s why you see so many Tour players practicing with their teacher or their caddie behind them or with some kind of device on the ground to help them stay aligned.”
When you make a backswing with the Swing Align, it shows how much your shoulders have rotated. And if the alignment rod is level or pointed slightly down, your swing plane is in the right place.
The other aspect that the Swing Align emphasizes is connection. Not only can you see static positions with the device, you can also make a full swing and hit balls with it and it makes certain you keep both arms together.
“Keeping your arms and body synchronized and together is very important,” McGinley said. “You see some golfers practicing with a golf glove under their armpit or a towel. Our feeling is that using those things unnaturally squeezes your arms together using your muscles. Our device allows your arms to hang freely and naturally so you can make a full swing.”
One of the other uses for the Swing Align include training the short game. The cuffs can be separated and connected by a shorter alignment rod, which puts a little light pressure between the arms to practice proper chipping and pitching motion.
The Swing Align Pro package includes two XL arm cuffs for players with bigger bodies. But McGinley was working with device and found that the XL cuffs were a perfect size to go around each leg just above the knee. When connected with a short rod, it turned out to be ideal as a putting trainer that would enable you to keep your knees still while you putt.
More than 100 golf instructors across the country have bought a Swing Align to use on their lesson tees with students. Devan Bonebrake, a Golf Digest top-50 young instructor, does a series of videos on the Swing Align website and are a must-watch to learn all the ways the device can be used.
And although the original idea was a stick across the chest, it evolved into much more.
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