2006: For your game - Training aid keeps swing on plane
The simplest ideas are sometimes the best.
For decades, golfers have used large circular hoops for practice. With a golfer standing inside the upright hoop, the basic idea is that the circle can help guide the club along the proper swing path, or plane.
Along came Luther Blacklock, head golf professional at Woburn Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, England. Blacklock, a pro for 33 years, is a brainy man who earned the distinction of advanced fellow of the British PGA.
On a quest to create the ultimate teaching device, Blacklock designed and built a 21st-century hoop. Thus the Explanar was born in 2002.
Teaching pros in 30 countries have purchased the original Explanar, which sells for $3,990. This professional unit is mobile and weatherproof.
A home unit, collapsible for storage, is available for $799. It has wheels and can be moved, albeit not as easily as the pro unit.
Both units are made of aluminum and built in the United States. They are large and heavy. Later this year, a junior unit will be introduced to provide youngsters with the benefits of this training.
After instructor Butch Harmon first saw the Explanar, he called Blacklock and told him to use his name in Explanar promotions – for no fee.
“A fabulous concept that was invented by a teaching pro who really understands teaching,” Harmon said. “It makes a lot of sense to me.”
The Explanar is different, according to Blacklock, because it is fully adjustable for all golfers (tall or short) and all swing planes (upright or flat).
Furthermore, it has a fin on top that helps keep the club in the proper position at the top of the backswing and into the followthrough.
Blacklock is so serious about his product that he provides a 75-minute instructional video.
In the end, it is more about feel than swing instruction.
When a golfer stands in the middle of the Explanar, he swings a roller and not an actual club. The roller is heavier and glides easily on the metal surfaces of the device.
“My mother was an art teacher,” Blacklock said, “and what I learned from her was to teach with feel rather than thought. Every person has an optimal movement, and I want to be certain that golfers do not choke their ability to move instinctively. We teach movement, not position.”
“It really does reprogram the golfing muscles,” said Tony Clark, managing director of Explanar Golf. “The more you use it, the more permanent it becomes.”
Clark was surprised at the number of golfers who told him that for the first time they were able to understand what width in the swing feels like. Width is a swing concept that entails a wide extension of the arms back and through the swing.
“We also hear people say they feel really free when they swing the club,” Clark said. “Some say they can feel the club release, which is something new for most of them.”
Blacklock recommends five to 10 minutes per day with the Explanar for swing training.
The Explanar also can be used for physical conditioning. Blacklock did not envision this when he invented the machine.
“You swing the roller for three or four minutes, and you have to stop because it’s such a strenuous workout,” Clark said.
Body Balance For Performance, with locations around the country, is a golf-oriented training facility that tested the Explanar for six months before it began to incorporate the device in its individual fitness sessions.
“It is a wonderful supplement to what we teach golfers,” said David Ostrow, one of the founders of Body Balance. “Once they have balance, flexibility and strength, we can help them incorporate these elements into the golf swing.”
Using a circular hoop, Blacklock’s mission was to provide simple answers to complex swing questions. It appears he succeeded.
– For more information on the Explanar, visit www.explanar.com