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Review: The Orange Whip Putting Wand

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Pros: Intuitive and familiar device. Its overall weight and flexible shaft force users to pay attention to the length and pace of their strokes, as well as where they contact the ball on the face. Works for both right- and left-handed golfers.

Cons: Just two lengths, 33 and 35 inches. Round rubber grip, unlike the flat-front ones sold on most putters. The putter head looks like a slab of rubber, unlike any Anser or mallet model on the market. Some consumers might be put off by the drastic difference in appearance.

Bottom Line: If you are an inconsistent putter who struggles under pressure, the Orange Whip Putting Wand might be your ticket to a smoother, steadier stroke.

Overview

The Orange Whip Putting Wand bears resemblance to a putter. It possesses every element (grip, shaft, head) of a club you would purchase to effectively roll the ball across a putting surface. The genesis of the putter, in the words of inventor Jim Hackenberg, was found in a training aid that looks a lot less like a putter, the Putterball.

“The developer of Putterball recommended using it as you would a regular putter and just hit putts with it,” Hackenberg said. “It was a great idea, just difficult to use, very little margin for error.  I loved the idea because it reminded me of Newton’s Cradle concept, which delivered the energy of one swinging ball into the target ball. Also, very similar to playing pool and the importance of center contact.”

Hackenberg liked the concept of the Putterball, but said it was too hard to use, with too much face curvature for most golfers to be able to make solid contact. That’s why his device has far less face curvature, making it easier to use while still providing feedback on mishits.

There is a series of drills that you can perform to improve lag putting and the moments of takeaway and acceleration. These drills are found in the company video here.

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The counter-balance, that small, white weight that looks suspiciously like a golf ball and screws into the top of the grip, works in tandem with the club head to promote greater rhythm in the swing. Inventor Hackenberg is also hedging his bets on the eventual replacement of anchored putters by counter-balanced putters. If you wish to try the club without the counterweight, simply unscrew the ball and have at it.

The Putting Wand can be purchased in 33- and 35-inch models. It sells for $109 on the company website.

Performance

The Orange Whip putting wand will legitimately expose your rhythm flaws. If you have a tendency to start the hands back too quickly, the shaft of this device will over-flex and you will feel the head get out of sync with your hands. If a stabbing motion at the beginning of the through swing is your flaw, once again the shaft will wobble and the head will awkwardly contact the ball.

I followed the instructions step-by-step and became a believer. My first move was to swing the putter back and forth for some 20-to-30 repetitions. Although my initial attempts were a bit twitchy, I promptly slowed (and found) my rhythm. I then rolled a number of 10, 20 and 40-foot putts, switching from the Orange Whip to my putter and back again. My results were quite similar to those promised in the aforementioned video.

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Looking back, the size, color and shape of the head didn’t provide nearly as much initial distraction as did the whippy shaft. The wet noodle forced me to slow down and repeat my newfound rhythm. Once I focused on consistency of unhurried pace, my strokes with the Orange Whip Putting Wand grooved in. I was then able to carry this metronomic sensation over to my regular putter and onto the practice green.

Looks and Feel

Why orange? A vibrant color with so little association with golf (especially during the pre-Ricky Fowler days) leaves an immediate chromatic impression. Jim Hackenberg admits he had a sentimental reason for that critical decision.

“I chose orange color because I knew the Whip would have a ball on end of shaft and it was about the size and weight of an orange,” he said. “Plus, I really like the color. I’m an Oregon State U graduate, their colors are orange and black.”

The orange ball at the end of the shaft refers to the full-swing trainer, the Orange Whip. When it came time to market the Putting Wand, Hackenberg knew to not mess with a proven appearance.

The face-on-ball contact sound of the Orange Whip putting aid is inaudible. No clickclack nor thlock. Nor is there a ding or dong. The ball releases from the soft-rubber club head with true roll and, in conjunction with proper swing rhythm, achieves proper distance with an appropriate strike. Your attention always returns to the first priority: controlling the whippy shaft with proper swing rhythm. The color and size of the club head retreat to the background.

IMG_1808

Speaking of the club head, its visual referent for Hackenberg is that of a Bulls-Eye “on steroids.” For those of a certain youth, the Bulls-Eye is a traditional blade putter that receive international attention and usage from the 1940s until the wide acceptance of cavity back and mallet-head putters in the 1980s.

Curiously, the company opted for a round grip on the device, not the flat-front model found on most putters. According to Hackenberg, the grip is round because it encourages a golfer to execute a pendulum swinging motion and not a “controlling swing” that tries to guide the putter face.

“It’s very difficult to find rhythm when you are controlling the putter face,” he said.

Takeaway

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The biggest drawback for me with this device is the lack of curvature of the face. In my mind, it doesn’t begin to curve close enough to the sweet spot. You can miss a putt by a half inch left or right of center and not notice.

That said, I am a fan of the Orange White Putting Wand. Repetition is the cornerstone of success, so repeated swings (as directed) with the Orange Whip Putting Wand will lead to a calmer takeaway and start to the downswing for starters. The less spastic or herky-jerky the stroke is under pressure, the more likely a golfer is to putt better. And who wouldn’t pay $109 for that?

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.orangewhiptrainer.com/index.php” oemtext=”Learn more from the Orange Whip” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DGDEEBY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00DGDEEBY&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=7HSO4CUYPZ56ZETN”]

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. jeff

    Oct 30, 2014 at 12:57 am

    i bought two 3/8 diameter fiberglass shafts 5 ft long i cut one in half and put an old belly putter head on it gripped it with yoga material sanded down the end for even more whip and i have an excellent whip putter trainer i am going to market it as the “wobbly whip” and sell them for 209 dollars whoohoo im getting wobbly just thinking of all that money this is going to bring in!!!

  2. Don Sterkel

    Mar 31, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    After 40 years of yippy putting and 30 years with long putter I purchased to prepare for the “ban”- to my surprise I found out I’m a better left-handed than right-handed putter with great tempo and a short solid stroke. Bought an Otey Crisman vintage putter on Ebay and putting and the game is fun again. I’ve tried many putting training tools (including almost all from Pelz

  3. RG

    Feb 10, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Egads and Gadzooks!

  4. Ronald Montesano

    Feb 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Tony, Scooter, Dan and Dwaine:

    My suggestion, as indicated in the review, is to try it. You’ll be enthused by the manner in which it calms any tendencies to stab at the ball.

    • Scooter McGavin

      Feb 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      As indicated in my comment, I have tried it.

  5. Dwaine Ingarfield

    Feb 8, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Yikes.

  6. Tony Lynam

    Feb 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I’m sorry, but it is one of the worst ways you could spend $109 dollars.

  7. Scooter McGavin

    Feb 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I’ve tried this and didn’t care for it at all. It only grooves you to one tempo, and not everyone has the same putting tempo. Know what’s better than $109? A free metronome app for your phone or ipod. You can pick what tempo you want to putt with, unlike with this.

  8. Dan

    Feb 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Silly

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Accessory Reviews

Talking with Alonzo Guess of Sunfish…and a look at the insane headcover they made GolfWRX

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We last talked with Alonzo Guess of Sunfish in November of 2017 after the Nashville-based company launched a custom headcover and accessory builder on its website.

The company has been producing custom headcovers, yardage books, and other accessories since 2013 when it entered the market with its signature wool headcovers.

We wanted to see what was up, and Guess was kind enough not only to answer a few questions, but to design a pretty incredible GolfWRX driver cover using some raw assets we sent over.

BA: What’s new at Sunfish since we last talked? 

AG: 2018 was a great year for innovation at Sunfish. We worked hard to develop new design and construction techniques, and it has been really exciting combining these new creative elements into one of a kind headcovers and accessories. 2018 was our eighth year in business, but it was probably the most significant in terms of innovation. We’re excited to see where we can go from here!

BA: Looking at your websites, I know one of the new things you developed is something you call Photoflux. What exactly is Photoflux?

AG: Photoflux is our proprietary high-resolution printing process, that gives us the ability to apply to our products anything from photos to complex patterns to intricate logos. The level of resolution and detail is truly unmatched, and can’t be achieved with embroidery. We apply it to our leather and Duraleather products, even our hand-made copper ball markers and divot tools! Those are really exciting, because we can make custom copper ball markers with full color logos, on demand

BA: How the heck did you come up Photoflux?

AG: A customer ordered a scorecard holder with his family photo to be embroidered on each side. We made the piece and weren’t happy at all with the result. The embroidery process couldn’t do justice to the photographs. It was clear that there were certain limitations to embroidery, and we were motivated to overcome them. After months of trial and error, long hours and strenuous testing against sun, rain, and wear, we developed the current process.

BA: What are ways the Photoflux process can be used?

AG: Photoflux is perfect for applying photos, but can also be used for intricate logos or family crests. Really any graphic element can be expressed accurately using Photoflux, including shading. Recently we’ve had fun developing custom patterns such as tiger fur and using them as stripes on headcovers. The sky’s the limit!

Photoflux is best in concert with other design techniques, such as embroidery, laser engraving, and precision cutting and sewing. The featured piece (shown in this feature) incorporates Photoflux, precision cutting and sewing, laser engraving and embroidery. The result is as much artwork as it is a functional golf accessory.

BA: What are the limitations of the technology…what products can you apply Photoflux to?

AG: It’s great for leather and Duraleather headcovers, putter covers, scorecard and yardage book holders, alignment stick covers, cash covers, valuables pouches, wine bags, barrel style tartan headcovers…and even copper ball markers and divot tools!

BA: Tell me about this headcover you made for GolfWRX. I suggested the use of a graffiti wall, a GolfWRX logo, and skeleton hand holding up one finger to denote one club/driver, and you really went to town!

AG: So for the headcover you have, we used Photoflux to apply the graffiti wall image to the top of the cover (did you notice the ‘GolfWRX’ spraypaint in there? We threw that in there for you as an Easter egg!). On top of that, we embroidered the skeleton hand. For the stripe, we laser cut the outline of a typical urban skyline, and laser engraved the chain-link fence pattern over the top, than sewed that down. The bottom portion is a Photoflux image of GolfWRX that you sent over.

With so many new ways to decorate and manipulate the materials, we’re really excited about combining it all for our fans and customers to create really unique products. We feel the sky is the limit, and we hope this headcover illustrates that.

 

 

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Accessory Reviews

Top-3 men’s golf polos at the 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Vegas

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GolfWRX’s fashion expert Jordan Madley picks her top-3 favorite men’s polo shirts from the recent 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Las Vegas. Enjoy the video below!

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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