What makes a great training aid? It's intuitive, it's original, and it gets results. We picked this year's best in three categories—Full Swing, Putting and Mental Game—based on those criteria, along with value and usage by the game's best players and teachers.
Enduring training aids give great feedback and aren't complicated to use. That's part of what has made the Orange Whip line so successful. It has a weighted ball on the end of a flexible shaft, which promotes an active pivot and arm swing. The wedge version adapts the weights on both ends to mimic an ideal swing with a lofted club.
When golf instructors find a training aid that works quickly and effectively (among the sea of over-hyped, too-complicated ones), they don’t hesitate to get them in the hands of their students. That has certainly been the case for the Impact Snap—a deceptively simple combination of grip, guide rail and sliding internal weight that reinforces the right motion of the club through impact and the correct release timing. Invented by a well-respected teacher, the device makes good impact dynamics something a player can immediately feel and hear. Make a good swing, and the internal weight clacks forward by the ball, and the guide rail bumps against the inside of your forearm. You can use it at the range or in the comfort of your living room, and it costs less than two dozen Pro V1s.
The Visio Mi mat was developed by Phil Kenyon (who works with Henrik Stenson) to place on the grass under your putter. You make swings matching the size and shape of the arcs on the ground. (Shooting 63 in the final round of the British Open is optional.)
The FocusBand has gotten attention because of its use by Jason Day—and because it looks a little strange. The neoprene headband goes around your forehead and holds three sensors that measure your brain's electrical activity. The band connects to your phone wirelessly, and you can monitor your brain's physiological state. If you're tense, the avatar on the screen changes to red. If you're in the zone, it moves to green. A series of games and drills helps you move intentionally into the green.
Full swing: Orange Whip Wedge, $119
Full swing: Impact Snap, $89
Putting: Visio Mi Putting Template, $45
Mental/visual: FocusBand, $500