At its most basic level, golf is a beautifully simple game. But (almost) since the dawn of time, players, punters, coaches, and professionals have tried to complicate the sport with a never-ending flow of must-haves or must-dos (“Hit down on the ball”, anyone?).
While many of these tricks and tools can have a positive impact on your shot count, there’s no shortcuts in golf – and like all skills in life, nothing comes close to time on the turf. With that in mind, we’ve gathered a selection of the more outrageous inventions and training aids to have graced the game — and from the simple to the sublime, here’s our rundown of some of the strangest.
THE SWING SHIRT
Guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows in (and out) of the clubhouse, the Swing Shirt was first introduced as a training aid to encourage a more connected swing. Touted by some as an essential tool in any serious golfer’s bag, we think it’s slightly more elaborate than necessary. After all, if a couple of towels under each arm worked for Vijay "The Big Fijian" Singh’s swing, then that’s good enough for us.
THE CHEAP PRACTICE NET
Sure, everyone’s swing could use a little extra home practice, but cheap nets aren’t the solution. First, nobody’s aim is perfect, and unless you stump up the cash for a house-sized training tent, chances are your ball is going straight into someone else’s… Second, we challenge anyone to get beyond 20-30 on-target drives before their cheap net is full of gaping holes. And a net full of holes is about as useful as… a net full of holes.
We’ve all seen them (and probably used them), but let’s be honest – has it ever truly helped your swing? More closely resembling a portal to another galaxy than a serious training aid, these strange steel cages profess to encourage swing plane correction for any golfer, but at the price tag alone, we think this oversized piece of paraphernalia is one tool too far. Plus, at 8ft x 13ft, where on Earth are you supposed to keep it?
THE BIG BERTHA
Yes, this isn’t strange today – but cast your mind back to 1991, when Callaway first introduced its giant innovation to the world. Made of stainless steel (drivers were made of wood at the time) and positively massive compared to standard clubs, this strangely big stick caused shockwaves in the golfing world. But the shock didn’t last long, thanks in large part to the near-instant revolution Big Bertha ignited, transforming teeing off for players everywhere with its forgiving materials and huge, easy-to-hit sweet spot.
THE PUTTING MIRROR
Nobody ever said putting was easy. Even Tiger’s superhuman ability to roll the ball in the hole was hard-fought. But do you really need an overpriced mirror on the floor to get your carpet game on point? Tees work just as well for gate drills (place one either side of your putter) and cost infinitely less.
THE TRU TURN PRO
This is one invention that takes overcomplicating your swing practice to another level. Why use a £200+ piece of plastic when a golf club will do the job? Unless you’re a top tier golf tutor with the training studio to go with it, we’d suggest saving your cash for something that will actually help lower your score (like a few extra rounds or some custom clubs).