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iPING Putter App Review

PING Golf recently released an app that puts a wealth of personal putting information in the palm of your hand—the iPING putter app for the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod Touch.The app is free, but can only be used with a companion cradle ($30) that attaches to the putter shaft. In the words of PING, “It’s a very cool innovation that gets to the very heart of what we do at PING: help people play better golf.”

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.

The View from PutterZone.com
The iPING app delivers a technological hat trick—it’s innovative, intuitive and effective. You strap the device onto your putter shaft, press the virtual start button and stroke your putt, and the results are instantaneous.

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.

About Sean Weir

Sean Weir is the founder and editor of PutterZone.com, and the author of Putter Perfection, the definitive guide to putter fitting. Profile: Google+

No comments

  1. Sound interesting for iPhone owners. I suspect we'll never see an Android version for the rest of us as you couldn't make a one-size-fits-all cradle for Android phones.

  2. Yes, it would be cool if there was some adjustable clamp that could grab onto a variety of different devices of roughly the same size.

  3. $30 for something resembling a case for the iPhone4/iTouch is more-or-less common. Is it a great design? Ask me in a year if is still alive.

    I would like to see some diagrams of "arc". There are none in your book. Even descriptions in the Pelz putting book are not very informative, especially in relation to arc versus strong arc and how you get to one or another. For instance, if I swing my putter "on plane" will this be a strong arc or a normal arc. Pelz is a straight back/straight thru guy. I find it impossible to do that. My arc with any putter from face balance to total toe down is pretty much the same.

    GUI (graphical user interface): On the "Measure" screen you cannot see your results described for the putter you are using. For those of us with the "putter disease", I would like to see which putter I am measuring on the top of the page.

  4. Good points. For the Measure screen, you can create different user accounts: Joe, Fred, etc. So in your case, maybe you could create user accounts for different putters: PING Anser, Gambler Royal, etc.?

    True on the cost for iPhone accessories. Most are overpriced.

    As for being on plane, I believe that the swing plane changes in relation to your inclined plane at setup.

    Regarding the stroke measurements in relation to using putters with different balance (face balanced, toe down), here's what PING told me: "You won't ever see a dramatic change (from straight to strong arc) but the session will become more consistent when you arrive at a putter that matches your stroke type."

  5. You can create unique user accounts for measurement, but you cannot see which account you are using for any given measurement. The workaround is to give a user name like: David-Anser. The "putter" field becomes pretty meaningless.

    The whole plane/arc thing demands study and diagrams. I got started on my skepticism about this when looking at arc training aids. Such aids can only theoretically be accurate for the plane of one golfer as each golfer is slightly different as to fit.

  6. I think that's a fair question with regard to aids that present a fixed path to follow.

  7. abcgolfcoach.com

    agree, iPING is a great tool!
    I use the IPing 5 minutes to warm up my PUTTING CONSISTENCY and CONFIDENCE before my 18 holes.
    Have a look in YOUTUBE.

  8. I checked and found that the iPhone4 has both an internal gyroscope and an accelerometer. Both are necessary for the iPING device to function. Many Android cell phones do not have those functions/features.
    Some may, I think most do not.

  9. This is no joke…. just wish it was on an android device. Never will be because of the gyroscope in the iPhone. I've played golf for a living and this is the best training aid I have ever seen!!

  10. One item to point out is the cost of the iphone mount is factoring in the cost to develop the app.
    Ping decided to offer the app for free but i’m sure they are expecting people to look at the app and choose to by the mount.

  11. I took an old iPhone 4 case I had lying around, used Gorilla Glue to attached a 1 inch piece of rubber shaft clamp to the back of it ($2 at most golf shops) and it works perfectly as a replacement for the iPing cradle. $30 is a bit out of line IMHO.

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