So is the iPING app just a gimmick in the vein of “too much information,” or a truly helpful tool that can make a positive impact on your putting performance? Following is PutterZone.com’s iPING putter app review.
At first, you can simply stroke some practice putts to get acclimated to the app, which measures your tempo, stroke type and impact angle.
Your tempo is measured as the timing ratio of back stroke to forward stroke. Your stroke type is calculated as Straight, Slight Arc or Strong Arc. The impact angle is determined as difference between the putter’s face angle at address compared to its angle at impact.
Once you play around with it a bit, it’s time to enter the “Measure” mode, during which you stroke five consecutive putts with no need to look at or interact with the device. Once you have completed your five putts, the app reveals your aggregate results for tempo, stroke type and impact angle.
At this point, you can begin to ascertain your putting consistency. The results are color coded, with green signifying “most consistent,” yellow signifying “moderate” and red signifying “low consistency.” The app can also record each five-putt session, building an ongoing “consistency score” to ultimately measure your “putting handicap.” As you demonstrate more putting consistency, you lower your handicap.
You can also set the app to record and compare results for different users, such as friends and family. You can also view corresponding putting results from PING staff professionals such as Angel Cabrera and Bubba Watson.
To have all of this information in the palm of your hand is remarkable and, quite frankly, revolutionary. Yes, there are other systems and technologies that can offer similar measurements, but none do it as cost effectively or conveniently as the iPING app.
Of course, this all begs the question: What do you do with this information? Well, collectively, the information you gain is both a putting training tool as well as a putter fitting tool.
If your tempo, face angle or stroke type are wildly inconsistent, you have a problem—but you also now have a tool that can help you remedy the problem by measuring your efforts to improve.
Additionally, as I explain in my putter fitting book Putter Perfection, you want to calibrate the balance of your putter to your stroke type: “A ‘face-balanced’ putter will generally appeal to golfers who employ a more straight-back-and-straight-through putting stroke, while a putter with ‘toe hang’ will generally appeal to those with an arcing stroke.:
So, for example, if the app tells you that your stroke is Straight, you may want to make sure that you have a face-balanced putter. Once you make sure your balance fits your stroke, you may see the consistency of all your measurements improve, including tempo and face angle.
To make it easier for you to ascertain the best fit, PING will soon release seven new Anser putters of varying balance properties, with each identified by one of three different colored shaft bands marked for Straight, Slight Arc or Strong Arc.
Putter weight is another aspect of putter fitting, and it can impact your tempo, so it’s worth noting that the attached iPhone adds no small amount of weight to the putter. It helps that the cradle attaches to the shaft near the balance point of the average putter, so the added weight is easy to control.
Nevertheless, it’s fair to speculate how much the added weight will impact the golfer’s tempo and total results (the iPod Touch is lighter than the iPhone, and I hope to test one out soon, at which point I will update this review). That said, there’s really no way around the added weight, not at this price and convenience.
(Follow-up note: I have since been able to compare usage of the iPod Touch and the iPhone. The difference is subtle but noticeable, and the less weight the better, so I would recommend the iPod Touch as the ideal device for using the app)
I do believe that the cradle is overpriced at $30. I understand that it’s costly to build the mold and manufacture a custom item like this, but at the end of the day, it’s just a thin piece of plastic. Perhaps the cradle should come with some sort of rebate—say $10—on your next purchase of PING equipment, to help defray the cost while keeping it all in the family? I don’t know, maybe I’m just being idealistic. I just hate the idea of some golfers holding off on experiencing this app because of the cost of the cradle.
Then again, $30 is less than a box of premium balls, and the cradle will last a lot longer and do more to lower your score in the long run. So the iPING experience is ultimately a conceptual bargain, if not a material one.
The Bottom Line
PING’s late founder Karsten Solheim would be proud, as the iPING putter app does considerable justice to his legacy of innovation. Better yet, it offers an intuitive interface and meaningful measurements that you can track to improve the fit of your putter as well as your putting performance.