They See Me Rollin'
This weekend, I received a new product from Perfect Practice Golf, makers of the high-end Perfect Practice Putting Mat and various other putting aids such as alignment mirrors and gates.
I really like the Perfect Practice Collegiate Edition Mat that I received around this time last year, and ranked it highly in a round-up of putting tools that I published in spring. However, as I noted, I don't have a lot of space to keep it out all the time at home. And, when I take it apart, it's just a little difficult to store the pieces of the track.
Well, Perfect Practice is back with a brand-new product just in time for the holidays that solves those issues. With an innovative roll-away base for easy setup, practice and storage, you truly can "roll out, roll in and roll up" as the Roll-a-Putt motto suggests.
The mat and ball return roll up on the base and the entire setup fits in a convenient cinch sack that is less than 12" in diameter and less than 12" high, making it highly portable and easy to store.
Although this mat is more compact and is narrower as a result, you still get 8' feet of high-quality putting surface (this mat uses the same unique crystal velvet material that the original Perfect Practice Mat does, ensuring authentic roll at real speeds) with clear guides/markings on the mat to help with aim and distance. This mat also employs the sloped approach (you're hitting slightly uphill at the end of the mat to the cup) to help practice pace control. And, while this mat only has one cup as opposed to the original mat's two, this one is the size you'll want to focus on anyway. This cup is just 3" in diameter, 1.25" less than a regulation cup. "Aim small, miss small," says the brand, with the idea that draining puts in this smaller hole will make a regulation cup feel easy.
Personally, I like the Roll-a-Putt more than my original mat. The size is much more manageable all-around, and I like how everything is self-contained. I will admit I was skeptical about the plastic track, but I am amazed at how easily it returns the ball right to you. I unfurled the mat at home and tested it on my wood floors, then brought it over to my parents house, where I let them play with it on their short carpet.
Then I rolled up it and took it downtown to Marquette University's campus the next morning.
For those who don't know, I am a certified Yoga for Golf instructor and this year, I've been working with the Marquette University Men's Golf Team, helping them improve flexibility, mobility, strength, and balance through our weekly practice. I was excited to share this new product that they hadn't seen before, and eager to get their opinions.
Everyone who tried it, from my mother (who has never played golf before but discovered a natural talent for putting when I had my original mat set up in my parents' house last winter) and father (an avid golfer who has more training aids than Tin Cup); to the college athletes and coaches, thought it was a cool design. Almost everyone who has used the original version noted that they liked this one even more for all the reasons already stated.
Of course, nothing is perfect, not even when the word is in your company name. Sorry, guys, I love you, but especially as a yogi, I believe it's all about progress, not perfection. This mat has definitely solved some of the challenges that may present themselves with the original mat, but my mind is already creating the next version.
Avoid Rollovers: One con I pointed out with the original mat is the tendency for the mat to roll in on itself if it is stored more often than displayed. They've improved that quite a bit in this version, which is surprising given that it's rolled up even tighter. However, I wonder if that will start to happen more the longer the product is in use. Only time will tell, but I think maybe an idea would be to put magnets on the bottom and maybe some heavier magnets on top to hold it down. Again, not as much of an issue on this new version, which is great to see.
How You Roll: It's super-easy to unroll and roll up the mat and the ball return. In fact, I timed myself, and it took less than a minute to set up (approximately :45 seconds) and the same to put away. However, I think it could be made even easier by including a small hand crank (like you'd use to roll up a garden hose) or some sort of retraction (like how you can easily pull in a vacuum cord).
Control Your Roll: If you could somehow unroll or extend the mat only to your desired length, rather than need to unroll the entire thing, I think that would be a helpful feature to consider. Yes, this is already more compact than the original, but what if you don't always have 8' to work with? Cubicles in offices are sometimes just 6' and many home bathrooms don't have an open length of floor that long. (Let's be real, we know there are some people who'd practice in there if they could... it's that portable.)
Rolled Into One: Look, this is already a great product, don't get me wrong. But as long as I'm playing product engineer and can spout off ideas without understanding feasibility/added cost/etc., I'd love to see a trap door built into the base where you can store at least a sleeve of balls. Sure, I have room to throw one in the bag with the unit, but it would be great if everything was all organized, and I didn't have to think about it. While you're at it, why not add a sleeve or strap to the outside of the bag where you can attach your putter, too?.
Again, these are all just ideas; the Roll-a-Putt is already a solid training aid as it is and there's nothing else quite like it on the market. I think it would make a great holiday gift for the avid golfer in your life, especially if they live in a cold climate; this is a great tool to use to practice all year round and continue to improve your game in the off season.
As a bonus, for writing this review, Roll-a-Putt is giving my followers 20% off for a limited time: Use code MOYER20 at checkout! Once you've tried this new device, I'd be curious to know your thoughts. Drop them in the comments below. Happy putting!