The golf training aid market is brutal. There are tons of products out there, and most of them fail to create a viable business. On top of that, golfers are endlessly disappointed because companies make such big promises and generally don't deliver. I pay close attention to what's out there, and for the most part, I don't write about training aids too often because there isn't too much that I recommend.
Several years ago PuttOut Golf caught my attention when they released their Pressure Putt Trainer. When I first saw it at the PGA Show, there was something about the design that led me to believe golfers would enjoy using it (and it could help them practice putting more often). While most of my predictions don't pan out, they have quickly established themselves as one of the leaders in the putting marketplace.
Several years later the Pressure Putt Trainer and their putting mat are extremely popular. It's a testament to their marketing, but most importantly because their design team manages to create unique products that engage golfers.
PuttOut Golf is back with another major release - their take on the putting mirror. I got a chance to talk to the design team at the PGA Show and test out the product myself for several weeks. Long story short, I think it's another winner. They have managed to take a ubiquitous training aid, make it better, and also creatively add new elements.
Why Use A Putting Mirror
If you go on Amazon right now, there are tons of putting mirrors. Most of them are cheap knockoffs of original designs from companies like EyeLine. The reason putting mirrors have become so popular is because they can help golfers establish a repeatable posture and help hone their putting stroke.
For the past 18 months, I have been using this mirror from SeeMore Putters. It has helped me establish a more efficient posture with where my head and eyes stand over the ball and also my shoulder alignment. On top of that, it has some subtle visual cues for my putting stroke. So I bought in on the concept of putting mirrors in general.
Theirs Is Completely Unique
At the PGA Show, I spoke with one of PuttOut Golf's chief designers. It took him about 10-15 minutes to explain all of the different design elements that went into creating their putting mirror. Their team took every single small detail on existing mirrors and thought long and hard about what they could do better. Two main goals were to prevent the mirror from warping over time and slipping on different surfaces.
I'll try to summarize a few of the key points - there are quite a few.
I'll start with the base. Instead of using cheaper plastic that can warp over time, the inner plate of the PuttOut mirror is made of steel. The reason is twofold - to provide a stronger, more durable material and to serve as a magnet for their plastic stroke gates. The mirror itself has an anti-scratch material which helps prevent scuffs that could develop over time and obscure your view.
One of my favorite features is at the bottom of the mirror. There are tons of small spikes that prevent the mirror from slipping on just about any surface. One of my gripes with other putting mirrors is that they can easily lose their position if the putter makes contact with them. If that wasn't enough, there are also small holes in the back of the mirror that you can put tees through to secure it to a putting green.
Wait, I'm not done yet....
One of the main differentiating factors of their mirror and perhaps its most useful feature are the magnetic rubber gates. You can adjust them as wide are as narrow as you want to recreate the gate drill that players like Tiger Woods have made popular over the years (they use two tees in the ground). The intention is to help square your putter face through the impact zone.
The package also comes with a metal gate that provides an extra challenge of hitting your initial start line, or as a target further down your path.
Lastly, the mirror itself has plenty of visual guides to help with your eye position, shoulder alignment, and your putting stroke. If that wasn't enough, they even made a small indentation where the ball sits so your putter can sit closer to the ball (one of my main complaints with other mirrors).
OK...that's a lot, let's get into how it performs
I Love the Magnetic Gates
I've spent the last few weeks practicing with the PuttOut mirror at home. Overall, I'm thoroughly impressed.
My favorite feature is the rubber guides that magnetically connect to the surface. I've long been a fan of a product called TIBA Putt which offered similar guidance to help square your putting stroke, and PuttOut has managed to incorporate a similar design.
You can adjust the guides as wide or as narrow as you would like. The nice touch is that there are numbered lines which help you remember your position. You can start wider, and as you move your putting stroke back and through the gates, without making significant contact you can start to narrow them. The magnets make everything more manageable because you can adjust for the dimensions of your putter, and if you knock them out of place, it's easy to get them back into position.
Since the entire surface is magnetized, you can also get creative and place them elsewhere to work on different elements of your stroke. Recently, a video of Jordan Spieth popped up at the WGC Mexico of him using the mirror with two sets of plastic guides (no word from PuttOut yet on purchasing an extra set separately).
The mirror itself functions...well, like a mirror. You can see where your eyes are and depending on your stance you can also view your shoulders. While I wouldn't say there is a correct eye and shoulder position for all golfers, you can start to establish a repeatable setup. Almost every golfer (even the pros) start to alter their setup and posture over the ball over time without realizing it. I tend to get farther away from the ball with my eyes, and using a mirror is a good reminder to help re-establish my setup. The provided lines and marking on the mirror help set positions that you can remember, and also provide a guide for your putting stroke.
Lastly, the small indentation around the ball is a great touch. Most other putting mirrors I have used make it difficult to strike the ball towards the center of the face because the surface is lifted from the ground. The PuttOUT mirror allows you to feel like you are striking putts normally because the ball sits closer to the face vertically.
The Target Gate is a Bit Challenging
Putting gates have become very popular training aids, especially amongst the pros lately. Putting instructor Phil Kenyon has made them popular with his Visio Putting training packs. The point of the putting gate is to help give feedback on your ability to hit your starting line.
The PuttOut Mirror package includes a gate that can be placed immediately in front of your line, or further away. It was my first time working with a putting gate, and to be honest, they're quite challenging! I found myself striking one of the sides on many putts, and this is a feature that some golfers could potentially find frustrating.
The PuttOut team did indicate to me that they could alter the sizes in the future. My recommendation would be to have a larger gate, or perhaps multiple ones with different sizes to alter the challenge.
I think your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the gate will depend on your skill level and your determination in practice. Either way, working with it can help provide valuable feedback.
Overall, It's a Winner
I think the team at PuttOut nailed it again. There are so many new and interesting features in this mirror package that make it a great practice companion for golfers who want to work on their putting at home, or the golf course.
They are quietly building a nice putting empire over in London. With the Pressure Trainer, their putting mat, and now this mirror - they've created an impressive brand rather quickly. Their attention to detail and design quality is amongst the best in the golf industry. They have also managed to create a raving fan base through a smart social media campaign - another aspect of marketing that I think many smaller golf brands struggle with. I did see a prototype for their next release at the PGA Show, and I think golfers are going to like that too.
The PuttOut mirror is currently priced at $74.99, which certainly puts it in the premium category. When you take into account the unique design elements, quality of materials, and practice versatility I do think it's a fair price based on the marketplace. If you want to buy into the entire PuttOut ecosphere, it will cost you just under $200.
The new PuttOUT Mirror is sold online through Amazon and you can purchase it using this link.