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|The new Swing Jacket helps golfers maintain the connection in their golf swing. (Courtesy of Swing Jacket)|
Most golfers have heard the term "connection," but understanding it or implementing it in the golf swing can be a tough task for many players.
Drills include putting a towel or head cover under the arms and keeping them in place in the armpits throughout the swing.
But any mid- to high-handicapper who has tried that drill without supervision usually gives up in frustration.
A few years ago, Jim Hardy and tour player Peter Jacobson endorsed a product called the Swing Jacket, which basically forced the connection between the arms and body. The jacket limited the movement of the arms, allowing the core to be the driving force of the swinging motion. More importantly, the connection also promotes an on-plane swing between the arms and shoulders. At the very least, it prevents constantly changing planes throughout the swing.
The only problem with the original swing jacket was that it was bulky and difficult to use, especially if the golfer didn't have anyone to help.
Now there's a lighter version that also has a couple important extras, including extensive video instruction. According to Swing Jacket President Bill Walsh, it took more than $1 million and 52 prototypes to develop the new Swing Jacket.
And now the Swing Jacket also comes in a smaller version that fits men, women and youth with chest sizes from 26 inches to 40 inches (children as young as 10 years of age).
Like the regular-sized model (which fits men and women with chest sizes from 36 inches to 53 inches), the idea is to develop the muscle memory of a fundamentally sound swing by imposing the consistency needed to train the body.
"We are excited to bring this smaller model to the market because it will dramatically shrink the time it takes to develop an effective, repeatable swing," Walsh said. "And in today's instant gratification society that is really important."
The two DVDs that come with the product are just as important. In fact, the instruction that comes with the packet directs users to watch the videos before trying the Swing Jacket on the range. Former PGA Tour player Dave Bisbee and Walsh demonstrate the different ways to train with the device, all the while explaining how to develop a fundamental single-plane golf swing that many of the tour players use.
One innovation that shouldn't be underrated is the "auto stops" on each rail that limits the range of the arm movement. Setting it according to body type and what the golfer is working on makes the Swing Jacket more effective.
Golf isn't easy, at least to play well. But for those who are already good players or are seeking to develop a sound fundamental swing, the Swing Jacket can be very effective.
This isn't for everyone, though. As Jim Hardy, author of "The Plane Truth" said, for some players, the two-plane swing makes more sense. A one-plane golf swing requires flexibility and athletic ability and not everyone has enough of that.
Also, without supervision, it may be tough to get the hang of the Swing Jacket. Watching the videos a couple of times and patience are definitely in order. Plus, it's helpful to work with the Swing Jacket without hitting balls as well as on the range.
I found that hitting balls with the Swing Jacket could be challenging, but as soon as I took it off, muscle memory kicked in, and I hit the ball solid and straight.
In short, Swing Jacket is probably one of the more effective training aids on the market if you can get over the embarrassment of putting this thing on at your club. (I got a few weird looks.) At $150 retail it's priced considerably less than the original, it's much easier to use and now there's a size for every player.
For more information, see www.swingjacket.com.
August 20, 2013
Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.
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