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Kinda Groovy
Stuart Smith

When it comes to putting there are all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to spice up your practice time.

Here are just a few of the many gadgets out there that can help you to find a better stroke - and have fun doing it.

The Putt Crooke: shoulder-controlled stroke

The premise behind the Putt Crooke is that by taking wrist action out of the equation, you solve what is, typically, one of the most common and destructive faults in putting.

The Putt Crooke is a simple device that clamps on to the grip of your putter. With it fitted squarely to the putter-face, it offers a number of grip combinations (both for left- and right-handed players), all of which encourage a stroke that is controlled by the unit of the shoulders, arms and hands working together.

I suppose one of the reasons it works so well is that the hands are aware of their role individually. But whatever the secret, the Putt Crooke certainly gives you a sensation of making a true pendulum-style stroke, one that is controlled by the gentle rocking of the shoulders. The idea is that after a few minutes training, you repeat the same consistent stroke with your regular grip - well worth a try.

The Rhythmiser putter: a flexible friend sensitive to all your needs

Featuring a slender whippy shaft that is sensitive to any jerky movements in your putting stroke, the Rhythmiser is one of a number of innovative training products designed by the self-styled 'Putting Doctor', Harold Swash.

As you can see, the shaft of the putter is extremely flexible, and because of this the only way to control the putter-head and strike the ball squarely so that you get it rolling on line is to make a slow and smooth stroke, again controlling the

motion from the shoulders, and not manipulating the course of the putter with the hands. It works, just a few minutes repeating this gives you a great sense of repeating a good rhythm - a rhythm you then replicate with your normal putter. This novel training aid can be used both at home or on the practice green, and is available from Yes! Golf at a suggested £39.95.

The Railmeter: the ultimate test of your stroke

Another great product from Yes! Golf, and a little beauty that lends itself again both to practice sessions at home on the carpet or out on the putting green.

The Railmeter makes for a real test of your ability to repeat a stroke that delivers the putter-face squarely and rolls the ball perfectly every time.

The rail is exactly a metre in length and is tapered slightly so that you can either putt from narrow to wide, which is tough enough for most, or wide to narrow, which is tour-player territory (the current record holder being Padraig Harrington with 22 consecutively holed putts on the rail).

Currently one of the most popular training devices on tour, the Railmeter is thoroughly addictive. Available from Yes! Golf at a suggested £29.95.

Zen" The Fab 4 quick guide to putting perfection

1. REFLEX: Holding the ball within the putter's aperture, simply adopt your regular putting stance and then roll the ball back and forth between your feet, your focus on moving the shoulders, hands and arms in one unit. This improves feel, tempo and rhythm.

2. RELEASE: In Release mode, you develop a professional putting action. Place a ball in the aperture and putt from 6-10 feet from the hole. If your follow-through is correct, the ball will be released along the target line with your putter-head finishing squarely on that same line.

3. TRACKER: The Zen Tracker drill adds the dimension of stroking the object ball towards the hole and eliminating any jerkiness. From the 10-foot range, the key is to take a long and smooth backswing that sees the ball in the putter's aperture released on a line directly away from the hole, before stroking the object ball straight at it. Releasing the ball backwards before rolling the putt itself forwards gives you a clear image of swinging the putter head on a perfect (extended) track back and through to the hole.

4. TRACER: Zen Tracer checks short-range accuracy and builds acceleration through the putt. From around 4-6 feet, place a ball in the aperture, then work on your stroke until you roll the forward ball into the hole and follow it with the tracer.

Line m Up

This handy gadget clips over your golf ball to provide the perfect groove along which to paint a line with a marker pen.

So simple, but very effective.

Out on the course, the idea is then that you carefully aim the line on your ball along your line to the hole to give yourself a vivid point of reference that helps you to aim the putter-face at the set up and make square contact through impact.

'Pure Strike' Putting Balls

Imagine a cut-away image of a golf ball revealing the core with just a thin ridge of the cover surviving around the equator and you have the Pure Strike putting balls.

An ingenious practice gizmo that reveals just how accurately you are striking your putts.

You simply align the ridge down the line you have chosen to the hole and then try to roll it perfectly, so that it runs true. The slightest hint of a mis-hit and the Pure Strike ball wobbles off course like a cheap supermarket trolley.

There are a two or three different band widths offering varying degrees of difficulty. A lot of fun, both at home on the carpet or on the putting green, and good value at £10.

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