By John Strege
An endorsement from renowned instructor Jimmy Ballard, who invokes Ben Hogan and his seminal book, "Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf," to explain the endorsement suggests that the Golf Swing Shirt might be a training aid worth investigation.
In essence both arms fit into a single sleeve of the Golf Swing Shirt to keep the elbows connected and close to the body.
"You're always looking to teach feel, to find something someone can feel," Ballard said. "You remember in Hogan's 'Five Lessons,' when he tied the elbows down? That's what this shirt does. It gives you the same sensation. You feel the elbows more down and together. It doesn't let your arms run away from you. It pulls your arms in, which is the feeling you want.
"Hogan was always talking about keeping the elbows on the body and then just moving to right and moving to the left. That's what the shirt does. It teaches that triangle. I'm not going to start any juniors any more without putting this on them."
Ray Rapcavage, founder of the Golf Swing Shirt, came upon the idea by accident. A low handicapper, he went into his yard to hit some lob wedges one day and shanked three in a row, he said, the last shot hitting his house. "It felt like everything was out of sync," he said.
So he took his sweater off, put both arms in a single sleeve, "almost like a strait jacket," and began hitting lob wedge shots, "20 perfect shots in a row, each time the same exact result. Everything was operating as one unit."
He decided to design a one-sleeved shirt for his personal use, then introduced it to friends. "Almost every person who put this on hit the ball exponentially better," Rapcavage said. Before deciding to go into business with this product, he sought the opinion of an expert and began hectoring Ballard for his evaluation. Ballard agreed to meet with him, though he was skeptical.
"I've been in this business 52 years," he said. "I've seen everything. I'd never seen anything I liked. I liked this right away and told Ray that. This lets you feel that triangle in both directions. It's so easy."
The Golf Swing Shirt can be purchased through its website for $59.95 and is available in orange, black or white. It also is available at various pro shops.