putting fork review

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Introduction

(Written By: GolfSpy Matt) I know what you’re thinking, fellow spies.  “Another putting trainer?  Ugh.  And this one doesn’t even look cool: no fancy lights or complicated set up…boring.”  Well, friends, I’ll tell you what’s boring: missing putts.  I know putting isn’t sexy.  Putting is to driving what your Aunt Ethel is to Brooklyn Decker.  That said, let’s look at two scenarios:

#1: I buy a new driver.  I get 17 more yards (and I’m so excited that I get a fancy new haircut).  Now, if I hit the fairway (a big if), I have a shorter club into the green, so I hit it to 8 feet.  But, I stink at putting, so I two putt from 8 feet.  Par.

#2: I keep my old driver but I become a great putter.  I have to hit a longer club into the green, so I only hit it to 15 feet.  But, being a great putter, I jar my 15 footer.  Birdie.

Which one would you rather be?  I’ll be the second guy every day of the week, which is why I was excited to test out the Putting Fork.  Will it make you into a birdie machine?  Read on to find out…

Ease of Use/Set Up

Setting up the Putting Fork is pretty simple: lay it down on the putting green, anchor it with tees, and then set a pair of tees to your chosen level of difficulty.  There is some fine tuning required to get the height of the “gate” tees correct: if the tees are too high or too low, it will make the gate wider than it should be.  There will also be a little extra set up time required if you want to get the Putting Fork aimed precisely at a hole, but, aside from gaining the positive feedback of hearing the ball fall in the cup, this is unnecessary (more on this later).

The Putting Fork can also be used indoors: simply put two tees through the front holes upside down (see picture).  The only problem with indoor use is that the difficulty is not really adjustable unless you use tees that taper differently.

Overall, setting up the Putting Fork probably won’t take you more than a minute or two once you know the difficulty setting that you want.

Score: 9/10


Effectiveness

So you’ve bought your Putting Fork, set it up on maximum difficulty (because as golfers, we’re inherently masochistic)…now what?  Well, unless you’re Brad Faxon, you probably start by watching your putts bang off the tees and skitter away from your target.  The Putting Fork is an unforgiving training aid…AND THIS IS A GOOD THING.  Hang on, let me qualify that: it’s not a good thing if you want to be patted on the back and told that you’re a great putter.  However, if you want to actually BE a great putter, it’s a very good thing.

One of the best features of the Putting Fork is that it can show you your tendencies with different length putts.  What I have found out is that I am best at hitting 10 foot putts straight.  I have discovered that for putts longer than 10 feet, I tend to leave the face a bit open.  What I found more interesting is that on short putts, I am not great at putting straight.  I consider myself an excellent short putter, but the Putting Fork has shown me that I have simply been living within the margin for error.  Now that I have the Putting Fork, I am not only making my short putts, but pouring them in the center.

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Beyond the simple concept of “roll the ball straight,” the Putting Fork is a great tool for working on alignment.  Many training aids can teach you to stand square to the target, but not many help you to square up the most important piece of the puzzle: the putter face.  Through the “T” shaped cut out, the Putting Fork allows the golfer to set the putter face perfectly square to the line before they make their stroke.  Based on watching dozens of golfers putt every day, I can confidently say that this alone can change the game for at least half the golfers out there.

Finally, the Putting Fork can be a great tool for learning to read greens.  The majority of golfers push or pull their putts, particularly breaking putts, so they never get a true idea of how much a putt breaks.  If you set up the Putting Fork on the slope of the green and putt through the tees, you can start to develop a sense of how much break there truly is.

If I have one criticism of the Putting Fork, it’s that there are two models.  To my mind, this is totally unnecessary.  In the picture below, you can see the widest, most forgiving setting on the Pro model.  If you can’t putt through that gap…buy a bowling ball.  What you lose when you opt for the Standard model is the opportunity to truly push yourself to be great.  If you’re going to buy a Putting Fork, and you have the desire to be better, buy the Pro Model.

Score: 30/30


Longevity

Has anyone out there permanently mastered putting?  If not, you’re going to be practicing putting for the rest of your golfing career.  And if you’re going to practice, you may as well get solid feedback so you get the most out of your time.

The feedback that the Putting Fork gives has become addictive to me.  What the Tour Striker is to my full swing, the Putting Fork is to my putting: it’s a way for me to know that I’m actually performing well, not just stealing good results from a mediocre swing.  This feedback is why I’d rather use the Putting Fork than putt to a hole most of the time.

With regard to the longevity of the device itself, the Putting Fork should last forever: it’s a solid piece of stainless steel.

Score: 20/20


Value

Deciding on a Value score is always one of the toughest things for me, and it was tougher than usual with the Putting Fork.  I’ve discussed the value with a dozen different people and got a wide variety of strong reactions.  Here’s what I came to:

There are two models of the Putting Fork, the standard model costs $90 and the Pro costs $100.  I’m going to ignore the standard model for reasons outlined earlier, so we’re talking about a training aid that costs $100 which I believe represents a fairly average price for a training aid. Since I think it is above average in terms of effectiveness and longevity, it should receive a strong value score.

So, while one side of my brain is saying, “This is a good training aid at an average price,” the other side is saying, “It’s a piece of sheet metal!” which is, no doubt, the same reaction some of you are having.

Ultimately, what I concluded was that the Putting Fork should not be punished for its simplicity.  Could the manufacturers have overbuilt it, added lights and whistles?  Sure.  Would it be a better training aid?  No.  They are charging a price that is reasonable, given the market, for an above average product.

Finally, I know that there are some among you who are saying, “I can do the same thing with ______.”  I know that, and that’s fine.  There are some people who are bound and determined to build their own everything, and that’s fine.  In my opinion, just as the simplicity of this device does not take away from its value, neither does the fact that you can practice without it.  (For what it’s worth, I don’t think you can replicate all the elements of the Putting Fork without two chalk lines, a pair of tees, and more patience than I possess).

At the end of the day, the Putting Fork is an average priced training aid that delivers above average results.  To me, this makes it a good value.

Score: 19/20


The Peanut Gallery

The Putting Fork produced what might be this year’s funniest Peanut Gallery reaction: after hitting one putt squarely into one of the tees, the putter loudly announced, “This thing tells me that I suck.”

Comical reactions aside, the Putting Fork definitely tested the patience of The Peanut Gallery.  Even one of our PGA Pros kept banging putts off the tees and eventually decided that she’d had enough (more accurately, she decided, “This thing is broken”).

As I stated earlier, the Putting Fork can be unforgiving, and many of our Peanut Gallery folks admitted that they did not have the patience for it.  That said, most appreciated the harsh feedback and said that it was preferable to a “too easy” trainer.

**Full disclosure: The Peanut Gallery tested the Pro model indoors, which is a pretty stringent test of putting.  I think they may have had more fun with it outdoors where the difficulty could have been adjusted.

Unsurprisingly, the Putting Fork lost most of them on price.  As we’ve seen in the past with putting trainers, it was our better players who saw more value in the Putting Fork.  While I would suggest that our “average” players would probably see more immediate benefit from the Putting Fork than anyone else, I don’t get to tell them what to think.

Score: 17/20


Final Thoughts

In a year when I’ve already reviewed a number of putting trainers, the Putting Fork has eclipsed them all.

It’s really this simple: if you want to putt better, the Putting Fork can help you.  It won’t try to change your stroke, but it will tell you, in no uncertain terms, whether or not you can hit a putt straight.  When you can dominate the Putting Fork at all different distances, getting the ball in the cup will seem like child’s play.

Score: 95/100

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