Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

WRX Q&A: Chris McGinley on the Swing Align golf training aid

Published

on

As we all well know, there’s no shortage of golf training aids on the market. Whether you think the seemingly endless stream of gadgets and gizmos flows primarily from folks who think they’ve uncovered the secret to improving your golf game via a particular aid or from enterprising individuals keen to capitalize on golfers’ combination of desperation and disposable income, I think we can agree that some tools and training aids are foundational—staples of instruction, if you will.

After talking with Chris McGinley of Swing Align and giving the product a test drive, I think this is one training aid that could rise to “staple” status, thanks to its simplicity and the essential information it conveys.

My conversation with McGinley, below.

GolfWRX: Most learning aids have an interesting origin story. How did Swing Align come to be?

Chris McGinley: Our golf swing trainer, Swing Align can trace its roots back to an inventor named Allan Strand who developed the Dandy Putter, which was used to win 17 events on the PGA Tour. Allan studied and worked with many Tour players during his Dandy Putter days, including Vijay Singh, Gil Morgan, Ernie Els, and Henrik Stenson. In 2011, he started to develop a device to help golfers achieve more consistency in their ball striking and the “Eureka” moment came when he attached two arm cuffs to a wooden rod to help hold them together along a straight line to indicate a golfers alignment.

GolfWRX: The key benefits of using Swing Align are said to be improved alignment, rotation and connection throughout the golf swing and a more consistent swing plane. Did you start with creating a simple golf swing trainer for alignment and evolve the concept from there?

CM: Even when the Swing Align was a rough prototype, it was immediately clear how great it was at teaching both alignment and connection. What was really exciting was, as we tested and refined new prototypes, how versatile this golf swing training device proved to be in improving a number of important golf swing fundamentals.

GolfWRX: When did you know that Swing Align was a viable product?

CM: After just one test session at Carlsbad Golf Center in 2017, we knew this golf swing training device was unique in its ability to help golfers with alignment, rotation, swing plane, arm-body connection and swing sequencing. In the hands of golfers and instructors, we knew this golf swing trainer would greatly help practice sessions and lessons by providing that visual and “feel” feedback that’s critical to golf swing improvement.

GolfWRX: Given your background in bringing some of the best-selling and influential golf equipment to market (as VP of Marketing at Titleist), what game-improvement impact do you think Swing Align can have for the golfers who take advantage of it?

CM: I was very fortunate to work at Titleist during the significant growth of its club business, and that certainly helped hone my sense for good product and for the desire golfers have to improve (McGinley is now VP of Product at Honma). When working with golfers on their equipment, you can’t help but see the areas that they need help within their golf swings. Swing Align reinforces so many of the golf swing fundamentals that I see golfers at all levels struggle with constantly.

GolfWRX: Here’s a question plenty of WRXers will be wondering: What’s the process of putting Swing Align on?

CM: Well, to be honest, some golfers are intimidated to strap an alignment rod across their chest! However, the device is easy to slide up your arms or snap directly on your biceps because of how flexible the cuffs are. And once you put the device on its easy to use and you immediately see the benefits. You don’t even have to swing. You’ll feel the connection belt, you’ll understand the alignment aid. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

GolfWRX: What has the feedback been from teaching pros?

CM: Instructors appreciate how Swing Align helps reinforce what they are teaching. And it gives their students an effective tool for continuing to learn and improve in between lessons. Many of our instructors use Swing Align during their lessons because the strong feedback it provides compliments what they are telling the student. The feeling of a proper swing is hard to get across, even for instructors. Swing Align excels at illustrating feel.

GolfWRX: Beyond alignment, what else can Swing Align help with?

CM: Getting the club on the proper plane while rotating is a challenge. Many golfers come out of their posture and take a poor path back to the ball. Many golfers don’t know how to square the clubface using their body rotation, so they flip at it with their arms or hands. The alignment rod helps show you how to stay on plane and the connection belt forces your arms and body to work together to deliver the club correctly.

GolfWRX: You mentioned some golfers wear Swing Align on their upper body and lower body. What are the benefits of each?

CM: One of the more interesting exercises is to put a Swing Align device on both your upper and lower body to rehearse the amount and sequence of rotation during your swing. Many golfers don’t use their lower body enough. Wearing two devices really helps you see and feel one of the most complicated concepts in the golf swing – proper sequencing.

GolfWRX: How much does the average golfer really struggle with alignment?

CM: Every golfer struggles with alignment, even the best in the world. That’s why Tour players always have their instructor or caddy constantly check them. Most average golfers set up poorly, often with their shoulders open or their spine tilted forward in an effort to see their target line. If you start in a bad position, it is really hard to recover. Swing Align makes setting up square and aligning your upper body and lower body to the target line as easy as looking down.

GolfWRX: Are there short game and putting applications with Swing Align?

CM: Absolutely. Many golfers fail to rotate sufficiently when chipping. For slower-speed shots, Swing Align really helps you develop the proper mechanics. When golfers putt, lower body stability is a common problem, so using the device above your knees and concentrating on keeping your lower body still helps you putt much more consistently.

GolfWRX: What’s the best way for a golfer to reach your company so they can demo Swing Align?

CM: Go to the website and order it! We offer a full money-back guarantee. We also offer special programs for golf instructors to help them get it into the hands of their students.

GolfWRX: One final question: Looking to the future, will this be the first of many learning aids from your company or is Swing Align more a stand-alone signature product?

CM: We have just finished development of a new putting-specific version of the device that will be launched soon.

Your Reaction?
  • 11
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

Leaving golf comics for a higher purpose: Rick Newell, LITT and M.U.S.T.

Published

on

Rick Newell drew the best golf comic strip ever. No debate. No competition. The four main characters of Life In The Trap, and the troubles they faced (in both golf and life) mimicked our lives in an eerily-accurate fashion. And then, the strip came to an end. Newell and his wife, living in Seattle, were drawn to a higher purpose. The mentoring of urban youth and teens was too large a challenge to ignore. Think about that for a moment: take on not one child, but hundreds, with one goal—to contribute to society. We caught up with Rick this fall, and he was generous with his time. Total transparency: I made my donation last week. Click the logo before, while, or after, reading the interview, and help MUST make hope a reality.

Ron Montesano: How did LITT start?

Rick Newell: My uncle Jerry, who is a great golfer, gave me the idea way back in college (I turn 50 next year). I thought it was a pretty good idea since the niche would be big enough and there would be a lot of material to go with. Plus it would give me an excuse to play. I took a year off in between my junior and senior years of college and traveled through New Zealand and Australia for nine months. I took my sketchbook with me and worked on the characters as I traveled. When I got back I continued to slowly work on the comic strip and started to see if anyone would publish it. A black and white version of Life in the Trap was picked up by a paper in Florida for a time but it did not last and I stopped making the comic strip.

RM: How big did LITT grow?

RN: In 2002 I had a pretty bad personal meltdown. It was the perfect storm in many ways and things got pretty bad. I even started thinking about taking my own life. As I put my life back together I resolved to do the things that make me feel alive and make me feel awake and to not really care what anyone else thought. Life in the Trap was one of the things that had made me feel alive so I resurrected it. Once I added color and put it on the computer, it took off. I made the website (http://lifeinthetrap.com/) which provided an easy way for editors to preview the comic and it was also an easy way for them to receive the most recent comics for the month.

After the website was up, I started to email editors of magazines, websites and newsletters to see if they would be interested in publishing Life in the Trap. The response was good right away and the circulation rapidly grew. At its peak, Life in the Trap was read by over 1 million people in different golf publications around the world.

RM: Who inspired which characters?

RN: Life in the Trap has four main characters: Duff, Clay, Putts and Rosie. They are all combinations of people I know. Duff is named after my dad but his golf game is more like mine. My dad’s nickname was ‘Duff’ when he was young so the relation to a golf ‘duffer’ was obvious.

Clay is named after the man I was named for. My dad played college basketball with an African American guy named Clayborn Richard Jones. My parents named me Richard and I gave one of my characters the name Clay because of him. The inequities African Americans face have been on my heart since I was young because of whom I was named for. Duff is black in the comic because of Clayborn. Clayborn died of asthma before I was born so I never got to meet him but I have always been proud to bear his name.

My mom’s middle name is Rose, which she hates by the way, so Rosie is named after her. Not named after her because she hates the name but because I thought Rosie sounds like a good character and because I love my mom. I knew one of the characters had to be married because of all of the funny material that would be generated between spouses due to the game of golf.

Putts rounds out the crew. One of the characters had to be pretty bad at golf because so many people would be able to relate to him and and one character had to have a short fuse so I put those into one character. The love/hate relationship with golf defines Putts.

RM: What is your relationship and affinity for golf?

RN: My dad taught me golf so I have him to thank for all of the pain and suffering over the years. Just kidding… sort of. Our local course in Seattle was Jackson Park Golf Course. They have an executive course that we would play together and then we eventually graduated to the main course. I was not the easiest kid to raise, especially through my teens and early 20s, but I have very fond memories of playing golf with my dad on that course. I have never been a great golfer but it has always been a regular part of my life thanks to him.

RM: How can golf serve to make the world a better place?

RN: I read recently that if your household income is $50K or above you are in the top 1% of people on the planet. It might not seem like it to some, but we are a very wealthy nation. The average golfer’s household income is over $100K and there are about 24 million golfers in the U.S. That is a lot of wealth. In my opinion, with all of that wealth should come some responsibility. If every golfer in the U.S. picked a cause they cared about and devoted some time, resources and money to it then golfers could literally reshape the nation. There are so many amazing causes out there. Golfers should pick a cause that lights their fire and get behind it.

RM: What are you doing now?

RN: My background is in technology. I worked at big computer companies like Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Cingular. After my meltdown in 2002, I decided that I did not want to be in the IT industry anymore. It certainly did not make me feel alive or awake. Instead I took a job at an inner-city Boys and Girls Club here in Seattle. I worked there for seven years and it changed my life. My dad was a successful doctor so I grew up not needing anything. Working at the Boys and Girls Club showed me first hand what some families have to overcome to just survive, much less succeed.

During my time at the club I came to believe that the most urgent need in the urban core is positive male role models. I felt that if you could provide that it would help the most number of people. There are many complicated reasons for male absence from the family, so if you can help fill that gap moms would get support and kids have opportunities to flourish. The economy would also benefit. So we started a mentoring program called MUST (Mentoring Urban Students and Teens). MUST finds African American guys who are in college and pays them well to mentor African American guys who are genuinely in danger of dropping out of high school. It is a four-year mentoring program. The big idea is that the younger guys watch the older for four years and begin to think, ‘He comes from the same place I do. If he can do it… so can I!” We are now in our eighth year and it is working better than we thought. Youth that we know would have dropped out of high school are attempting college. It is amazing to watch their courage and determination.

The average high school dropout costs the nation $600,000 or more. Great prevention programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters are less expensive but focus on younger kids. Rehabilitation programs like juvenile detention centers are very expensive and do not have a great track record of successful rehabilitation. MUST is a premium intervention program that exists between prevention and rehabilitation. We find kids who are the most vulnerable before they hit high school and give them a lot of support. One of our mottos is that we will support you all the way through high school…no matter what!

RM: How can we help?

RN: Donations are always great but one of our three core values in fundraising is joy. MUST wants the people that partner with us to take joy in helping us out because we are doing good work. There is more than enough money in the world to solve most of its problems. Literally. If you do not find joy in giving to us then there are so many other great organizations out there doing incredible work. Find the organizations that are solving the problems that pull on your heart and get behind them.

The best way to help us is to get on our newsletter list and start to get to know us. We put a lot of effort into our newsletters so current donors and supporters know what their efforts are supporting and see the difference they are helping. Come check us out and see if it would bring you joy to help us out.

The MUST mentoring model is more effective than we thought it would be. Because of its effectiveness we are now researching to see if the model would work in other communities that have high dropout rates. We are currently asking the Latinx community if they think our model might work for their youth. Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are also vulnerable youth groups here in Seattle. MUSTs goal is to one day have the MUST mentoring model in every major city in the U.S.

RM: Why did you stop creating LITT?

RN: I stopped because it did not make me feel alive anymore. I was working at the Boys and Girls Club and working other jobs to make ends meet and I just did not have time for it anymore. More than a million people were reading it but because I was giving it away for free, I did not make any money off it. Once it started to be a grind just to produce it, I stopped doing it. It is a great body of work that I am very proud of. I wanted to stop before the work I was proudly producing became compromised.

RM: What would it take to bring LITT back?

RN: We are considering bringing it back. Life is full so we will need to make sure. My wife and I have four sons and MUST obviously takes up a lot of time. We would want Life in the Trap to add to our family and MUST and not take away from it. Our oldest son fell in love with golf last year. He has been basketball, basketball, basketball up until high school and he was pretty good too. However, he joined the high school golf team his freshman year and now he loves it. Obsessed with it really. It might make sense to resurrect Life in the Trap.  MUST is a great cause and if we could get the same numbers of readers looking at Life in the Trap a percentage of them might want to follow MUST and help out. Who knows. Stay tuned to GolfWRX to find out!

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

The 19th Hole Episode 103: The one with Scott McCarron

Published

on

2019 Schwab Cup winner Scott McCarron talks with host Michael Williams about beating Bernhard Langer and Father Time in his stellar 2019 season (hint: CBD played a role). Also features Part Two of the 19th Hole Holiday Gift guide.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

TG2: Callaway’s MAVRIK driver leaked and Bryson has some gains in the gym?

Published

on

The MAVRIK driver is out in the open and we speculate on it. What do we think of the color and design, anything we can tell from the photos on new technology. Bryson is bulking up and has gains in the gym already, but will it help?

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

Your Reaction?
  • 4
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending