ORLANDO -- The major club brands always have the coolest tents at PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day, and commendations are owed to the folks who erected these behemoths of plastic and steel in the 30 mph winds and rain that stormed through Orlando this morning. Sometimes, however, the coolest products are encountered at the most modest and makeshift setups. Just a small banner, a folding table with a box of business cards, and a man to tell you about an idea.
I'm skeptical of training aids, for the simple reason I haven't met many good players who use them. But today two practice irons caught my eye. The Little One is essentially a shrunken cavity-back 7-iron with a face as small and intimidating as a blade 1-iron. If you get the ball airborne, you've hit the center of the face. In fact, the face is so small I'm not sure you can say it even has a heel or a toe.
Also demanding great precision from the user is the Tour Striker. Inventor Martin Chuck had his eureka moment when he was working as a teaching professional, trying to fix the timeworn early wrist-release of an elderly student. Chuck took the bottom grooves of an 8-iron to a grinding wheel, rounded the bottom third of the face, and thus was a born a club that can't be hit unless the hands are ahead of the ball. "If you hit the Tour Striker solid, it's verification the shaft was leaning forward at least four degrees."
An early wrist release, or a cast, is perhaps the most common separator between average players and good players. As a public golfer, I have a theory that artificial turf driving range mats can lead to sweeping swings. If you come into the ball steep and hard with a lot of wrist lag, like almost all great players do, your wrist joints can suffer. The Tour Striker might just be the remedy for the common man. If you sweep, you won't swim.
-- Max Adler