“Drive for show, putt for dough” they all say. “Straight back, straight through” others say. The ProAim is the Professional Golf Teacher’s Association’s “Training Aid of the Year” and a Golf Digest “Top 10 Training Aid.”
The product is endorsed by Butch Harmon (hardly a short game guru), Natalie Gulbis (who’s yet to win on the LPGA Tour), Mark Calcavecchia, Craig Parry, and the most respectable man of the bunch, Irishman Darren Clarke. They all love it.
I have no idea why.
The ProAim works rather simply. Daylight enters the yellow piece of plastic beside your right eye. Thicker pieces of plastic concentrate the light in a parallel-lines-with-crossbar pattern and bounce the light off of a darkened lens back to your eye. You see a simple putting alignment grid (again, see image just below).
The ProAim’s goal is to ensure a straight-back, straight-through putting stroke that keeps the putter face square to the intended target line. A straight-back, straight-through stroke (also called the pendulum stroke) is preached by legendary short-game guru Dave Pelz and is employed by many good, solid putters.
Interestingly enough, Pelz’s current star student – Phil Mickelson – employs the stroke used by most of the greatest putters: more of a “hinged door” stroke that opens the putter face on the way back and closes it on the way through. Proponents of the hinged door method say that the putter remains square to your body the whole time, which is much easier to control than the pendulum stroke. The pendulum stroke requires some wrist pronation and supination to keep the putter face square throughout the motion.
In the end, my problems with the ProAim were plenty. First, if you wear glasses, you’re simply not going to be able to use the ProAim and to see clearly at the same time. If you’ve not got 20/20 sight or a pair of contacts, you’re simply out of luck.
The ProAim is also fairly small: my head isn’t abnormally large, but the ProAim’s frame squeezed my head like it was an orange and the glasses had a hankering for some fresh OJ. The first time I tried the ProAim for more than just a few minutes, I got a headache. The headache went away fifteen minutes after removing the ProAim. Whether it’s because my eyes were having trouble focusing without my glasses or because the ProAim was squeezing my temples I can’t say for sure.
My problems with the ProAim were far more serious than wearing glasses and needing an Aleve now and then. My problem is paying $59.95 for something that simply doesn’t work. The ProAim projects its little grid just fine, but it does so where your head is pointed, not where your eyes are looking. Try this: get into your putting stance. Close your eyes and let them move back to the center so they’re looking straight in the direction of your face. Open your eyes. Where are you looking? Probably not straight down at your feet.
Most people don’t jam their chin into their chest when they putt and their faces are not pointed straight down at the ground. As the illustration to the right shows, the ProAim projects its grid where your face is aimed, not where your eyes are looking. For most people, that means the grid will be two to three feet away from their ball.
What’s worse, if your head is cocked to the side a little, the ProAim will steer you in that direction. Tilt your head a little to the right and the ProAim dutifully helps you push your putts. Cock it a little to the left and you’re warmly welcomed to Pull City.
Not only is the ProAim not worth $59.95, but I feel it could be detrimental to your putting game. It’s quite easy to duplicate a simple putting grid with tees, tape, some shafts or dowel rods, or string. Spend your sixty dollars getting a putting lesson instead – it’ll go a whole heckuva lot farther than the ProAim glasses.
Perhaps the ProAim’s lenses should have been rose colored?