If you happen to check out the practice range at a professional golf tour event, you’ll see something that might surprise you; several training aids being used by the pros while they practice. This shows that training aids aren’t just for amateur hackers but can provide golfers benefits at even the highest level. The difference is that the pros aren’t looking to the training aid as a panacea for all their swing woes, but a tool to help them achieve a certain feeling and result. A device growing in use by the pros is the DownUnder Board, so let’s take a look at what they’re trying to achieve with it and if it can be useful to regular golfers as well.
About the DownUnder Board
Bradley Hughes, an Australian instructor, created the DownUnder Board. He had a great deal of success as a professional himself, with Australian Masters titles and a President’s Cup selection under his belt. Hughes designed and built the DownUnder Board to help golfers develop their swing from the ground up, feeling proper footwork and ground force utilization in their golf swing.
Ground force is something that the highest level golfers have always used, but only recently is it explored and understood as a concept. In short, it is about the pressure we exert against the ground during the golf swing and using that force through impact to hit the golf ball. The best golfers exert pressure into the ground well beyond just their body weight and gravity, and that pressure has to release somewhere, resulting in movements significantly increasing clubhead speed.
Since our feet are our connection to the ground in the swing, it makes sense to search for the feeling of ground forces there. But this isn’t easy, even if we understand the physics of it. \
The DownUnder Board provides something to apply pressure against, helping to engrain utilizing the ground.
As for the device itself, it is a rigid plastic board. The model reviewed here is the new 2.0 Tour Edition, which has the board built in two pieces, connected by a wingnut and bolt system that allows the user to adjust the board’s width to match their stance. Here’s a video of Bradley Hughes introducing this model.
Using the DownUnder Board
The DownUnder Board came with a packing list with basic instructions and a password to access the video instruction page on https://www.downunderboard.com/. However, that page features just one video from Bradley Hughes walking through the basics of using the board. The real “how-to” for the device is summed up in a single phrase at the bottom of the page:
Using the DownUnder Board is simple. Grip it (the board) and rip it.
The only difference needed to add the DownUnder Board to your standard practice is to take a slightly wider than usual stance, have the board between your feet, and “grip” the board with your lower body through the swing. DownUnder recommended to start without a ball first and build up to full swings. From there, switch back and forth between hitting with the board and without it. Try to keep the feeling of applying pressure even if the board is not there.
Like many avid golfers, I’ve heard a lot about ground force without really understanding how to apply it. I was excited to try the DownUnder Board with the hopes of getting over this hurdle and learning the feeling of good footwork as my swing thoughts rarely strayed lower than my hips.
It’s pretty easy to understand what you need to do with the DownUnder Board out of the box. Initially, I took a few swings without adjusting the width (it was in its narrowest setting) and could feel something. After reading the tips and watching the video, I widened the board to be an inch or two more than my usual stance and followed the advice to build up to full swings.
Widening the board helped increase the feeling of pressure in my lower body, but going too wide restricted my turn, so most users will probably have to experiment to find the right width for them.
As said, I could feel “something” while using the board, but beyond that, I struggled to define what that “something” was and how it was affecting my swing. Even if I know a bit more about the swing than the average golfer out there, that knowledge (particularly about using the lower body) certainly doesn’t reach the level of a professional or instructor.
I think this held me back from being able to apply the feedback the DownUnder Board was giving. I hit plenty of good shots and plenty of bad ones while using the board, and I can’t honestly say if it made any difference in the few sessions I had with it, outside of my thighs being a bit more sore than usual. In my mind, this is a big drawback of the training aid as even though it’s easy to use and provides feedback, the average golfer might not be able to do anything with that feedback by itself.
There’s a reason that pros use the DownUnder Board, and golf personalities like Michael Breed recommend it. It certainly provides a method to enhance and emphasize footwork through the swing.
However, the question remains of how to turn this feeling into something actionable for improving the swing of the average golfer. It’s possible that merely through time and repetition, the muscle memory created by using the DownUnder Board will lead to better golf, but it’s hard to expect the average golfer to put in that work on their own.
Because of this, the lack of additional guidance and instruction provided by the board is disappointing. I’ll keep working with the DownUnder Board even after this initial review, but I believe that getting the most out of it will require outside instruction from a coach to help put the feelings into context.
- Easy to use out of the box
- Creates a feeling of lower-body pressure in the golf swing
- 2.0 Tour Edition is adjustable so that golfers can find the width best for them
- Lack of additional guidance and resources to best use the device
- Hard to translate the feelings into concrete improvements
The DownUnder Board 2.0 Tour Edition is available through their website for $109.