I absolutely hate to hit the ball fat. It’s such a rotten feeling to hear that dull sound of a club meeting the grass and then have to watch as your ball travels about half the distance it should have. I think every golfer has run into this problem; some of us more than others. But wait, we see all of the pros taking these beaver pelt divots. How can they still hit such great shots? Well, it turns out they are hitting the ball first and then the ground. This little secret is really an integral component of becoming a better golfer. Hitting the ball first, or bottoming out the swing in front of the ball, has a huge affect on how far we hit the golf ball, how accurate our shot is and how much it spins. That all sounds great, but how can the average golfer learn to do this? THP got a little tool that is supposed to help with learning to hit the ball cleaner. It’s called the Fat Free Golf Swing Trainer (hereby known as the Fat Free).
The Fat Free is a flat board with a couple of extended ‘arms’ and three circular indentations towards the top. One of them came with a penny stuck in it. It appeared to be constructed of some sort of hard plastic-based compound. It came to me without instructions and I will admit that I wasn’t really sure what to do with it at first. Luckily, the company’s website is boldly displayed on the product, and I headed over to my computer.
From the website I was able to learn two ways to use this tool. The first one is probably the most common. You start by laying the Fat Free on the ground with the arms pointing towards you. From here, you can put a penny in the slot that is closest to your target. The picture above actually shows the setup for a lefty. You then place the ball in the center slot. Your goal is to use the penny as a focal point when you’re aiming. You want the club to bottom out where the penny is laying instead of at the ball or behind it. The green stripe is designed to act as an alignment aid, which could be very helpful to some people, especially those with dominant eye issues. The other way to use the Fat Free is to place the arms pointing towards the target. You then place a ball on the grass in the area between the two arms. The goal is to hit the ball without hitting the Fat Free while taking a divot ahead of the ball.
The methodology behind the Fat Free ties in with the technique I have been using to eliminate fat shots and improve my ball striking; focusing on a spot ahead of the ball. Usually, I use a blade of grass as a focal point, but the Fat Free uses a penny. I found the penny easy to focus on, but not overly distracting.
Losing the fat
I used the Fat Free a lot for chipping and pitching practice and found out quickly that I really needed to work on getting my swing bottom further up when it came to my short game. It’s plainly evident when you hit the ball correctly and when you don’t. If you are hitting it fat or not far enough ahead of the ball you can actually feel the club hit the board and slide forward as the ball sort of meanders away from you. A good shot is pretty easy to determine because you not only feel clean contact with the ball, you also hear the sound of the club hitting the penny. While my short game is pretty good, I don’t have much spin. Now I know one of the reasons why. I’m not hitting the ball as cleanly as I should be. I found the Fat Free to be pretty helpful when it came to short game practice. I learned that I wasn’t hitting the ball as well as I could be and was able to adjust my stroke accordingly.
Later, I took the Fat Free to the driving range for some full swing practice and found it worked much the same way as with short game practice. I did have some issues in that I found out I just didn’t feel right hitting the ball off a board with full swings. It just seemed very foreign to me and was a little distracting. This is probably more of a mental block than anything, but it was there nonetheless. This can be avoided by using the second method that I described since the ball isn’t actually sitting on the board.
One other issue that I experienced was that I knocked the penny out of its slot on my first full shot and couldn’t ever find it. I was still able to focus on the indentation, but I would recommend taping over the penny so it stays put. I will say that I had no problem getting the Fat Free to stay still, which was one of my concerns going into the review. I didn’t use anything to pin it to the ground and it hardly moved at all.
One question that I was asked on the THP forums was how well the Fat Free held up to the abuse of getting whacked so many times with a golf club. I found that after repeated use it held up pretty well. Short game practice basically had no affect on it whatsoever. I took one hack that was ridiculously bad and hit the back edge of the Fat Free, knocking out a small chunk of plastic. Aside from that, there was no real damage inflicted from the golf club, even after many full swings. There was some smudging from the bottom of the club, but no cracking or scratching. In all, I would rate the durability of the Fat Free as very good. It takes a pretty strong product to handle the stress produced by repeated golf club strikes.
There is no disputing that learning to hit the golf ball before you hit the ground will make you a better golfer. As I mentioned, I was working on this very thing before I reviewed the Fat Free and I found that my iron play improved and my scores dropped quickly. I could see where coupling the Fat Free with some of the literature and instruction on the subject would be beneficial to many golfers. I would recommend checking out the company’s website at www.thefatfreegolfswingtrainer.com to get some more information on the product and the methodology behind it. The Fat Free sells for $34.95 and also comes with a small putting aid as a bonus.