The Swing Jacket was first introduced over a decade ago and was endorsed by such notable PGA professionals as Peter Jacobsen, Scott McCarron, D.A. Weibring, Billy Andrade, Paul Stankowski, Tom Purtzer, and Bernhard Langer. Others such as Olin Browne, and Billy Andrade all won PGA Tour events shortly after making the Swing Jacket part of their practice regiment. It was 2 ½ years in the making with the majority of research being done by the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Calgary. More than 50 prototypes were conceived and dismantled before finally settling on a final model. As it turned out, the original product was bulky and difficult to use and the product quietly faded away. Unfortunately in 2007, the factory where the Swing Jacket was produced burned down, taking all of the dyes, casts, and product with it.
A newer version was reintroduced at the last PGA Show in Orlando, FL The new Swing Jacket is a much lighter version and comes with an extra perk – instructional videos! It is also available in two sizes; the smaller version fits men women and children with a chest size from 26 – 40 inches and a regular sized model for those with a chest size from 36 – 53 inches.
In a nutshell, the Swing Jacket is all about building muscle memory – muscle memory that promotes a fundamentally sound golf swing. To my knowledge, it is the only golf swing training aid that physically guides you through a perfect swing. . The key to all of this is the rotation of the torso. The Swing Jacket forces you to turn your shoulders to turn on plane with the target and keeps your arms on plane with the ball.
Most golfers who take the game seriously have heard the term connection: it’s when your arms get away from your body or out of sync with the rotation of your torso When this happens, your swing becomes disconnected Sure you can do a drill like putting a towel or headcover under your arm and try to keep in place throughout the swing but odds are it will only lead to frustration. The design of the Swing Jacket forces the connection between the arms and body. By limiting the movement of the arms, the Swing Jacket allows the core to be the driving force of the swinging motion. When performed correctly, this connection also produces an on-plane swing between the arms and shoulders.
Watching the videos a couple of times before putting the Swing Jacket on is strongly advised. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have put it on upside down! Patience is definitely a plus as well. If you are like most people whom I have let try the Swing Jacket, the results are pretty dismal for about the first twenty balls or so. After that, you start to get the hang of it. For me, it was nice to see a slight draw on the ball when hit correctly. I can guarantee that you will get some strange looks while wearing the product, especially when you look like a dufus trying to tee up a ball! However as soon as I took it off, muscle memory kicked in, and I hit the ball solid and straight, with a nice little draw, so it was worth the embarrassment.
After I had put the Swing Jacket through its paces, I lent it to a friend of mine, Bob. Bob is a high handicapper who because of medical issues had taken a few years off from the game. Now that he was back living in a golf community and – more importantly – feeling up to it, he decided to give it a try and I though what a great opportunity to give the Swing Jacket a true test.
Much like me, Bob struggled with it the first couple of times he used it. Whether out of frustration or embarrassment – maybe a little of both – he would take it off half way through a practice session. After using it for a week or so we went out and played only our second round together. The results were amazing; instead of shooting the customary 120 or so, he actually (and legitimately) broke 90. He was an instant believer!
Just as important as the Swing Jacket itself are the two DVDs that come it. Former PGA Tour player Dave Bisbee and Bill Walsh, President of Swing Jacket, Inc. demonstrate the different ways to train with the device, all the while explaining how to develop a fundamental single-plane golf swing that many of the tour players use. One feature of the product that shouldn’t be overlooked is the “auto stops” on each rail that limit the range of arm movement. Setting it according to body type and what the golfer is working on makes the Swing Jacket more effective.
Last Word: The Swing Jacket definitely requires patience. I don’t practice with it all the time but when I do, I can count on miss-hitting the first ten balls or so. Once you get past the embarrassment and the funny looks you are going to get you will find that the people you play with or see you on the range will notice how much better your ball striking has become. It is also going to produce a different finish to each shot – now more “high hands.” I would say that the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Let’s face it; there is only one way that is sure to improve your golf game and that is to create a better, more repeatable swing. It has been said that the golf swing is the most complex athletic motion in any sport. Yet players such as Ernie Els make it seem so seems effortless. Over 100,000 amateurs and 54 PGA Tour players use the Swing Jacket so there must be something to it.
The Swing Jacket and is currently only available for right handed players. Included are 2 bonus DVDs: A Swing for Life and The Accelerator and “Tour Stops” which among other things, allow the player to learn to release the club through impact and develop more width in the backswing. You will also get a slick carrying case and a discount of up to $250 at TaylorMade Performance Labs. Swing Jacket comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and will set you back about $150. For more information, you can visit them online at www.swingjacket.com.