Most golf instructors have go-to training aids and drills that they use in trying to eliminate poor swing habits and promote better, more repeatable, patterns.
But what makes a great golf training aid?
The training aids that endure are the ones that are easy to use and provide instant feedback, so it should probably be intuitive and it definitely needs to produce results for the student.
Earlier this year we showcased the Top 5 Golf Training Aids on the market today, as determined by over 4,000 MyGolfSpy readers. This list includes tools that have proven to provide real results. That list featured popular training aids like the Orange Whip, Tour Striker, DST Compressor and the Eyeline Putting Mirror. Those are, without a doubt, among the best golf training aids on the market today because they address swing flaws while providing immediate feedback.
Most of you know about driveway stakes, but have you considered that there are countless other golf training aids out there that were never designed to be used in any golf-related capacity whatsoever? Some of the most reputable instructors we know have a mix of common (and not so common) household items in their teaching arsenal.
What are some of the best DIY training aids?
We asked several of the golf instructors we know to tell us what household items they're using, and how you can leverage them to improve your game. Here is their list.
Spoon - $9.99/ 6-Pack
Intended use: Used primarily for eating liquid or semi-liquid foods
How to use it for Golf: “I keep a spoon in my teaching bag to help golfers gain a sense of a flat or flatter lead wrist at the top of the backswing. ‘A spoonful of compression!’” – Andrew Rice, The Club at Savannah Harbor, Savannah, GA
Dr. Scholl’s Odor Fighting Foot Spray - $4.99
Intended use: Combat foot odor and perspiration
How to use it for golf: “With the larger faces of modern drivers, there is a lot of room for error. It’s important to understand how your strike point will impact ball flight. For example, a slight toe strike will encourage a draw, whereas a heel strike will encourage a fade. In addition, hitting it lower on the face will impart more spin, while striking it towards the upper half of the face will keep spin down. Spray it on the face of your driver until it is covered. Then divide your driver up into four quadrants with a tee or your finger. Pay close attention to your ball flight in relation to the strike point.” – Andy Patnou, Terravita Golf Club, Scottsdale, AZ
Water Bottle - $1.99
Intended use: A container that is used to hold drinking water
How to use it for golf: “I use an empty plastic water bottle outside of the ball to give a shanker something to avoid hitting on the downswing. The water bottle or water bottles can be arranged on the ground to teach the student on their swing path and in working on a more in to out path.” – Hank Haney, Golf Academy at Westridge, Dallas, TX
Pool Noodle - $13.99/ 5-Pack
Intended use: Used when learning to swim, for floating
How to use it for golf: “We use pool noodles a lot in instruction. We have students stand on them for balance. We also use them over aim sticks to buffer accidental impact and we use them as hurdles to work on trajectory windows.’” – Martin Chuck, Tour Striker Golf Academy, Phoenix, AZ
Metal Yardstick - $6.99
Intended use: Measure length up to one yard
How to use it for golf: “A great household item is a metal yardstick. Place a ball in the hole on one end and hit putts. If the ball rolls off one side or the other, it was struck in excess of 1 degree off line. If it stays on the yardstick for the entire 3-feet, it was within 1-degree of perfect. This drill is ideal for ensuring that your putter face is returning square to your line at contact.” – George Connor, Golf Channel Academy at Farmington Woods, Farmington, CT
Bath Or Face Towel - $5.99/each
Intended use: Dry off when wet
How to use it for golf: “An overwhelming majority of the people that I work with slice the golf ball. The most common flaw that I see with slicers is the path is too leftward or ‘over the top.’ I use a towel and place it under the arms of my students to help them get the feeling of having their arms ‘pinned’ to their bodies, instead of lifting their hands too high. It’s hard to raise your hands while trying to keep a towel across your chest at the same time. They should be able to make normal swings without the towel dropping from their arms. In addition, I can also lay the towel flat on the ground about 3 inches behind the golf ball and have a student work on missing the towel to help improve ball first contact, while addressing the low point in their swing.” – T.J. Sullivan, GOLFTEC - Oak Brook.
Bungee Cord - $8.99
Intended use: Secure objects without tying knots and to absorb shock
How to use it for golf: “One of my favorite household items that I use for instruction is a bungee cord. I take one end of the cord and loop it around the player’s right lower bicep (just above the elbow), then take the other end of the cord and go in front of their stomach over their back left pocket of the pants and hook it into a belt loop. I know that sounds odd, but it really promotes a better turn, keeping the arms in front of the body during both the downswing and backswing. It provides a connected feeling where the arms don’t keep running at the top of the backswing.” – John Kostis, Grayhawk Golf Club, Scottsdale, AZ
Broomstick - $12.00
Intended use: A cleaning tool
How to use it for golf: “One household item that I use is a broomstick with chipping. I ask the student to hold the broomstick at a normal club length outside their front foot. They then make practice swings keeping the longer part of the broomstick outside of their upper torso. This prevents the flips or their wrists from breaking down too soon or too much through impact.” – Jon Paupore, Director of Instruction at Red Ledges, Heber City, UT
Clothes Hanger- $1.99/Plastic 18-Pack
Intended use: Hang your clothing
How to use it for golf: “Put it on the left side of your grip, in line with your club with the hook of the clothes hanger aimed up to the sky. It’s great for clubface awareness and building a flatter left wrist at the top, if needed. It’s helpful for players who lack clubface awareness and leave the face open at the top of the backswing. You can help a student to get their arms and hands moving properly in the swing.” – Derek Deminsky (Golf Better Tucson), Forty Niner Golf Club, Tucson, AZ
Carpet - Cost Varies
Intended use: Cover a floor surface
How to use it for golf: “Being able to flop a ball off tight carpet onto a bed and have it stay is a high-level skill. This drill helps golfers to learn how to work the bounce on their wedges and slide the club under the ball to elevate it quickly with high spin. Students can start with a wiffle ball and then move up to a golf ball.” – Matt Thurmond, Arizona State University Men’s Golf Coach, Tempe, AZ
Ruler - $.99
Intended use: To measure distances or to rule straight lines
How to use it for golf: “Tape a ruler to the loft of a long iron and practice impacting the flat side of a bag with the flat side of the ruler. This is a great drill for those students that need more shaft lean at impact.” – Adam Kolloff, Director of Instruction at Liberty National, Jersey City, NJ
The Possibilities Are Endless
This list just scratches the surface on household items that also serve as golf training aids. The possibilities are endless. There is no correlation between the cost of a training aid and its effectiveness. Some outside the box thinking can save you money and still help you get better.
If there are items out there that can also function as golf training aids, they will be used in that fashion. Again, the key is to find training aids that provide instant feedback and address swing flaws, whether they are intended to be used as golf training aids or not. Have fun with it and get creative.