Go to any PGA Tour or LPGA event and you'll see players who aren't being paid to do so using a variety of putting aids on the practice green. Their unofficial seal of approval is one way to cut through the clutter in the training aid category.
Among those that has been in use at tour events, including the Masters, in recent months is the Straight Trax, a new introduction from MVP Sports, a company whose core business has been alignment rods.
The Straight Trax was developed by Dwight Hansen of MVP Sport, who saw a rudimentary device in use at the PGA Tour's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic a few years ago. "A couple of the players had a contraption with an alignment rod and acrylic pieces," Hansen said. Hansen decided to devise one that was better and more versatile and to market it.
The principal benefit of the Straight Trax is to help promote a straight back, straight through putting stroke. Another is stroke height, an area on which instructors are focusing more, Hansen said. "If you take it back inside you're going to hit a rail. If you lift the putter you're going to hit a rail. The way we designed it was to make it intuitive, where you're getting physical feedback."
Its simplicity and affordability ($30) make it an attractive product for anybody, from the tour player to the recreational player. "It's fun to get a product in play with the best players in the world," Hansen said, "but we wanted to make something that really works for anybody. "
The product comes with five rods and two end pieces and breaks down to fit in a side pocket of a golf bag.
-- John Strege