I received my HomeStriker Training Golf Ball in the mail, and was immediately confused by the contents of the package. I was under the impression that I would receive a state of the art, space age interpretation of a golf ball that mimicked the feel and flight characteristics of a real golf ball. Then, I open the package and find a brand new Nike golf ball, with what appears to be a handkerchief superglued to it. Two things immediately occurred to me when seeing this… #1 – why in the world would someone attempt to super glue a handkerchief to a golf ball, and #2 – the miniscule amount of physics that I do understand says that this handkerchief will slow the golf ball at an incredible rate after being struck with a golf club.
The day I received this package, it was about 35 degrees, cloudy, and windy. But, I was determined to smack this concoction around, and immediately grabbed a 6 iron and went to my back yard. I tossed the HomeStriker on the ground, and scared to death about my neighbors windows, took a half swing at the device. A pure strike, with about half effort, resulted in a well struck golf ball with realistic feel that traveled roughly 15 yards. I chased the ball down (not a lot of work) and gave it another half whack…. another 15 yards, but those 15 yards were the result of a normally 90 yard swing. Still scared, but with a renewed curiosity, I decided to take a full swing at this contraption. Still not fully trusting it, I went to my front yard, where I paced off 30 yards from the street to myself, having been told that 30 yards is the flight limit of this practice aid. Thankfully I waited until an unsuspecting car passed, as a full lash at the HomeStriker resulted in a 40 yard launch of the handkerchief adorned golf ball. After retrieving the ball from the street, greeting my across the street neighbor, and thanking my well written home owners insurance policy that I didn’t hit any passing cars, I realized that the test shot was considerably downwind. The 40 yard shot was the absolute limit of my power, and the feedback from striking a real golf ball was refreshing.
After taking a few more swings, I began to evaluate this practice device. My initial reaction, and the reaction that I was going to stick with, wasn’t a great one for the HomeStriker. I have unlimited access to a practice facility, and the ability to hit practice balls at most hours of the day. Sure, it was great that the practice ball had the feel characteristics of a real golf ball, but it has nothing close to the performance characteristics. I can’t practice a draw, fade, hook, cut, low, high, etc etc shot with it. It seemed like a novelty at the time, with no real benefit to someone like me, who’s lucky enough to have unlimited access to practice facilities. So, after a few strikes, I gave up on the device and tossed it in my golf bag and forgot about it.
Some background on me, I love the game of golf, I love everything about it, except for the individuals that like to play golf in the mornings. I love the game, I love my friends, but I also love to sleep. However, in the interest of being able to play with my friends, I sacrifice some sleep on the weekends and play golf with my buddies on early morning weekends. If the tee time is 8:00am, there’s a good chance that the other 3 guys in my group will have teed off already as I show up on the first tee at 8:02, tired, hungover, and in no condition to be making a full driver swing on the 470 yard par 4 first hole of my club.
As much as I hate waking up early, I hate the “breakfast ball” even more. If you’re so concerned about hitting a good one off the first tee that you want a mulligan of the 1st tee, show up early enough to warm up on the range. I’m neither concerned enough about hitting a good ball off the first tee, nor do I really want to show up in time to warm up. I assume bogey on the 1st hole that early in the morning, and figure that extra few minutes of sleep will probably help me make birdie on the 2nd hole to get back to even par as much as it will allow me to make a par 4 on the 1st hole. I love sleep.
The weekend after testing the HomeStriker and tossing it into the black hole that is my non-tournament bag, I happened to show up to the course a few minutes prior to tee time. As my faithful bartender was making me a Baileys and coffee (it was october after all) I had a few minutes to kill, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to head to the range to hit 2 warm up balls, and practice putting at that hour of the morning seemed ridiculous. I dug into my bag to find a tee, and came out with a handful of HomeStriker. The proverbial lightbulb went off in my head (granted it was early and cold, so the lightbulb wasn’t as bright as it should be, but in any event it was a lightbulb). I’m too lazy to head to the range to hit 2 warmup shots, but I hate watching my fellow competitors hit 2 off the first tee. Well, I’ve got a “golf ball” that no matter how hard I hit it, will only go 40 yards, which I can tee up and launch off our practice green, retrieve and hit back towards the original spot. Anyone that’s ever attempted this knows, that no matter how much you take “warm up” swings, if you’re not hitting a real golf ball it just isn’t the same. So, I tossed down the HomeStriker, and gave it a few whacks. This device immediately solved my issues. I don’t have to take the time to hit 2 or 3 range balls prior to my early morning round, and I don’t have to wake up 5 minutes earlier to facilitate that warm up. I can do some basic “1st tee stretches,” tee it up, and hit a few warmup shots prior to my 1st tee shot.
If this was prior to an actual tournament, I’d head to the range to warm up, hit different shot shapes, heights, clubs, distances, you name it. But this is my weekend fun play, I’m not going to take the time to do my proper warm up. The HomeStriker allows me a few swings, hitting a real golf ball, prior to my round. The golf ball is retrievable, reusable, and I don’t have to worry about breaking neighboring windows or bombarding fellow golfers with an errant warmup shot.
So, what is my opinion of the HomeStriker Training Golf Ball? In all honesty, I don’t see it as a “training golf ball”. A training aid, to me, allows someone to see shot shapes, heights and distances and allows the golfer to learn what each particular swing does to the golf ball. The HomeStriker, no matter how much I tried, won’t hook, draw, cut, or slice. I believe a true training aid needs to let the player see and experience those shots and the swing variations that create them. But, do I think the HomeStriker has value in the golfing world? Absolutely. It has proven to be an invaluable warmup tool in my previously contracted and neglected weekend off-season warmup routine. To this point, nothing can replace the experience of striking a real golf ball prior to a round, whether it be a full warmup session on the range, or a few quick hits on a HomeStriker Training Golf Ball. With the proper expectations going into a HomeStriker Training Golf Ball purchase, I believe it has a place in the game.