Video Introduction – Salt In The Wounds
I know that video is a bit of salt in a still-fresh wound, but I show it to make this point: Justin Rose is a pretty good putter. If you want to putt as well as he does, you might start by using his putting trainer of choice, the Trueline Putting Coach.
Correct Read + Right Speed + Good Stroke = Made Putts
Unlike bombing a 300 yard drive, everyone (yes, even you) can get those three things right and make putts. But if it’s that easy, why don’t putting aids help you work on all three? Well, because most of them are crap, that’s why.
The Trueline is different. Errol Helling, the inventor of the Trueline Putting Coach, invented this training aid of out necessity: it combines all the tools that he needed to teach putting clinics. If you want to put on putting clinics when you play against your friends, sit back and read this review.
Advanced warning: This device does a lot. Watch this sweet video (excellent musical choice, Errol) and the stuff I say will make a lot more sense.
Ease of Use/Set Up
When you open your new Trueline, you’ll see the folding board, a level, the Putting Arc (optional), and a bunch of tees and pegs. To get the Trueline up and running, all you need to do is screw in two to six pegs: two to create the ball gate, two for the level, and two for the Putting Arc.
Using the Trueline is equally easy: drop it on the green, aim it at a hole, and try to putt balls through the gate. If you make it through the gate but miss the hole, adjust your read. There are other uses, which you know from the video, but they don’t require any more set up than the ball gate.
One thing that makes it both easier to use and a bit irritating is the fact that the Trueline does not get pegged into the putting surface. On the plus side, it makes the Trueline easier to use indoors and it makes adjusting your read very easy. On the downside, it can get knocked around when you’re loading in balls or making a stroke.
The Trueline has so many features, that I think it’s easier to discuss them one at a time.
- Ball Gate – In my opinion, this is the heart of the Trueline because it answers the most important question: did you start your putt on line? The Trueline comes with two sets of pegs for the ball gate: one easier and one more challenging. The ball gate is very effective, and when combined with the correct read, it offers feedback on line (did the ball go through the gate?) and speed (did the ball go in the hole?). The ball gate feature gets two thumbs up.
- Putter Gate – The black holes that you see on the top of the Trueline are designed to hold tees that will form a putter gate. There are two sets of holes so that you can form a gate that fits the type of stroke you want to make: straight-back-straight-through or arced. The gate is not super tight, which is probably for the best since hitting the gate could move the board and mess up your read. And for the “I can do that with some tees” crowd: can you move your gate after you set it up off-target? Didn’t think so. A solid, beneficial feature.
- Plane Board – Meh. In my opinion, guys whose putter shaft is jumping around during the stroke aren’t going to use this (because they don’t practice) and the guys that own a Trueline probably don’t need to worry about their putter shaft staying on plane.
- The Putting Arc – As I said when I reviewed The Putting Cyclops (HERE), I’m not a fan of any training aid that tries to reshape your stroke. That said, there have probably been about a billion Putting Arcs sold, and lots of people swear by them, so what do I know. Whether you like the Arc or not, there’s one thing that’s worth noting about the way it works with the Trueline: because the Trueline is not anchored, you cannot press your putter firmly into The Putting Arc, only gently guide your putter along it.
- Level & Ruler – Both work just fine and are valuable (particularly the level) for Aimpointers. Side note: if you’re not an Aimpointer, what the hell are you doing? Do you like missing putts?
So, in short, the Ball Gate is excellent (one of the very few aids that can give you feedback on speed and line), the Putter Gate is very good, and the level and ruler are quite useful. While I won’t personally use the Putting Arc or Plane Board, having these features does not detract from the Effectiveness of the features I do like.
I’ll say the same thing about the Trueline that I’ve said about most other effective putting trainers: you are never going to be finished working on your putting. And unlike your full swing, where you might move from one change to another, your goal in putting is always starting the ball on the intended line with the right speed. Trueline also gains Longevity points for being effective indoors as well as out: the putter gate and ball gate don’t care if you’re putting on Augusta’s greens or green shag carpet.
The Trueline Putting Coach retails for $120 through the Trueline website. Adding the Putting Arc tacks another $16 on to the price, which is a good deal if you want the Arc – the Arc costs $45 by itself through the Putting Arc website.
The price of $136 puts the Trueline above our $100 average, but there is a logic to the price: the Trueline combines a level, a putting arc, a Putting Fork/Pelz Putting Tutor, putting gate trainer, plane board, and a ruler, which, by Errol’s calculation, comes out to exactly $151…and a trunk full of gadgets.
The value of the Trueline comes down to the question of how many of the features you will use. If you’re buying it purely for the ball gate, it’s a bit overpriced. If, however, you’re an Aimpointer and you plan to use all the elements of the Trueline, the value is quite solid. On balance, I rate the value at a B+.
The Peanut Gallery
The Trueline, with its many lines and numbers, left a few Peanut Gallery members scratching their heads at first, but when I put it on the ground and lined up a ball, the fog lifted and they got the picture. Since many in the group had tested The Putting Fork, there were more than a couple comments to the tune of, “Is this another way to tell me I suck at putting?” Humiliation aside, the group liked the ball gate and the putter gate, particularly the way in which the whole thing could be moved easily from target to target.
There are no Aimpoint users in the Peanut Gallery, so some of the features of the Trueline were lost on them. On the other hand, a few of them really liked the ability to use The Putting Arc with the ball gate.
Overall, the group liked the Trueline, but their interest in owning one was muted by the price.
Another “Peanut Gallery” that should be considered is the one that includes all of the Top 100 instructors who have purchased Trueline Putting Coaches for themselves. That number currently stood at 5 when Errol and I last spoke, and I’m sure it will continue to grow. There are also 6 Division I golf programs currently using the Trueline.
Overall, the Trueline does not bring any revolutionary new ideas to your putting practice; rather it combines some of the best trainers together in a convenient, easy to use package. Because it lacks a “Wow!” experience and no one, ever, has said, “Chicks dig great putters,” I suspect that a lot of people will pass over the Trueline. I think that will be there loss. The Trueline is easily among the top five putting aids I’ve ever tested, and potentially top three. If you want to improve your putting, Trueline Putting Coach should be on your short list of training aids to buy.
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