Compression Board – Training Aid Review

Today, I’d like to review a training aid that I recently received in the mail to test out.  Those who know me know I like to learn about new ideas in an open-minded effort to find the best concepts for learning and teaching golf.  However, those who have seen me teach know that I do not actually use numerous training aids or gadgets.  I certainly implement a few favorites, but do not use many extra tools (mostly in an effort to simplify and because we cannot take them with us on the golf course).  Useful training aids are simple to use, highly effective, and provide beneficial feedback. 

The Compression Board (pictured) is one of most simple yet effective and intriguing training aids I have seen.   As you can see, it is basically a lie fitting board with a cut-out rectangle in which to place the ball on the grass.  The Compression Board then has 6 levels that work backwards (6 being the easiest) leaving less and less space between the ball and the middle of the board.  The object of which is to avoid the board when striking the golf ball –  leading to crisp contact and ball compression. 

While practicing with it, I sent a message to Alf Callowhill, one of the inventors of the Compression Board, asking how they decided upon the space allotments for the Pro Level and if hybrids/woods can be used as well.  Alf responded and said the board is designed specifically for irons and that the Pro Level was based on the average Angle of Attack for a 3-iron which is -3.1 degrees.  The premise of the board is also based off of the study result that the average Tour Pro’s low point in the swing is 4 inches after the ball.  Well this certainly brings a whole new meaning to the PGA Tour’s slogan “These Guys Are Good”; the reason I asked was because the Pro Level is certainly a challenge.  I felt quite comfortable hitting from the 2nd Level but could really only hit punches and chips from the 1st Level and the Pro Level without hitting the board. 

(*Note Regarding Angle of Attack: The 2009 PGA Tour Average chart provided by TrackMan indicates that, like Alf  responded, the average Angle of Attack for a 3-iron is -3.1 degrees.   You can view the chart below. 

Since the Compression Board is made for irons, it makes sense that the Pro Level benchmark would still resemble a space adequate enough to hit a long-iron (like a 3-iron).   However, in looking at the chart we find that the LPGA Tour Average that relates to a -3.1 degree Angle of Attack occurs when the players are hitting their 8-iron.  What this means is that the ladies on tour have a more shallow angle of attack overall.  This is most likely due to the fact that on average they are shorter and have less strength than men; both of these characteristics would lead to a slightly more shallow Angle of Attack.  Ideally then, to be on par with the  -3.1 Angle of Attack Tour Averages, men would be able to hit a 3-iron from the Pro Level benchmark while ladies would be able to hit their 8-iron.) 

 The Compression Board forces you to find a way to hit the ball first before the ground.  It does not care what type of swing you have.  All that matters is that you are in a position to strike down and through to compress the golf ball.  Of course, those who try this feat will quickly find the way to achieve this is to have a very effective impact position.  What is this impact position? If we could freeze the best ball strikers in the world exactly at impact we would see they (1) all have their hands up by their front leg (2) their hands then are leading the clubhead and (3) their weight is moving forward and is pivoting around their front leg. 

One of my favorite things about the Compression Board is that it simultaneously works on Angle of Attack as well as club path.  I fight a too inside-to-out path at times and immediately noticed that my path straightened out when using the board.  I also noticed that while the board is challenging to use, especially towards the lower levels, I did hit the ball very well after using the Compression Board.  The best thing about the board is that even if you cannot take a full swing without hitting the board from a certain level, you can start with small chips and pitches to get the feeling of what has to happen in order to hit the ball correctly, and then work your way up to a full swing.   I also placed the ball outside of the Compression Board but in line with a Level to see where my divot occured in relation to the golf ball’s starting point during a normal swing.  The Compression Board design allows for an easily measured and behnchmarked  improvement system. 

While using the Compression Board, I asked Methodist University PGA Golf Management Intern Nick Gonneville to test out the board.   He was immediately determined to hit the ball from the Pro Level adding that the Compression Board “can serve as a fun way to practice” and that it “can create a game or competition between friends, teammates, coaches, and players.”  You can see Nick use the Compression Board below. 

Final Analysis
(1) Great training aid. 
(2) Simple and non-intimidating (the board does not hurt or make too loud of a noise when hit)
(3) Simultaneously provides feedback regarding Angle of Attack as well as Club Path. 
(4) Useful for motivating and benchmarking ball compression progress.

Thank you for stopping by, have a great day. 

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