WarSpec Alignment Chip
The WarSpec (fka MilSpec) Alignment Chip is a flat round disc with branding and design on one side, and alignment markings on the reverse to assist in lining up your ball with the intended line of putt.
Undoubtedly leveraging the production of poker chips at a U.S. manufacturer, the MilSpec Alignment Chip is a ceramic disc 39mm in diameter (not 40mm like those low-end poker chips!), and is just a hair smaller than a USGA and R&A Confirming Golf Ball. The Chip is 0.37 ounces and 0.130″ high, and is easy to carry in a pocket. It can gather dirt fairly quickly, but is easy to clean with the same towel you use for the ball and club. The chip size, weight and material is the same regardless of design. Each version features the same alignment markings used to line up the putt on one side, with differing graphic designs and branding on the other. The chip is easy to carry and see in a bag or on the green with its bold designs.
We use the Alignment Chip as follows:
Step 1. Place Alignment Chip behind ball and align the tool as best you can with the intended putting path. This is really just a first guess, so don’t spend too much time here. After you have a decent guess at the path, you can go ahead and pick up your ball (no violating Rule 16 here!).
Step 2. Take a look at the green and path from however many angles as you want, but don’t take up so much time as to upset your playing partners. Finish your process positioned behind the ball, seeing what line you want for the putt and how that line compares to the current alignment provided by the WarSpec. Figure out if and by how much you need to adjust the line of the WarSpec to the correct putting line.
Step 3. Place your ball down in front of the Alignment Chip and then adjust the Chip as needed to the point down the desired putting line.
Step 4. Align the main line/arrow/writing on your ball with the main line on the WarSpec Alignment Chip.
Step 5. Commit to your read and knock in the putt.
Step 6. Take playing partners’ money.
Some might argue that it is worthwhile to take another look at the Alignment Chip versus the intended line of putt following Step 3 by stepping back, but we find that the Alignment Chip is usually accurately lined up to our intended path at that point, and to go through the process any more would just make for a longer round of golf than anyone wants to play. Plus, we’re just not that good anyway.
So does it work? We think it is a great tool for players who rarely (if ever) take a look at their putting path (which can include everyone from beginners to low handicappers players) and it does help us both focus on and identify our line. At only $8, it’s hard to say that you are getting taken to the cleaners with a purchase of the WarSpec (hey, it’s inexpensive enough to also use as a gift item or for corporate schwag) and its rare to find an item of such low cost that could demonstrably improve your putting…without requiring any additional practice time.
There are other tools that have additional lines that are intended to help players adjust the alignment, but we are skeptical whether that really provides any accuracy beyond the dashed center alignment mark and tapered track design on the WarSpec (particularly since the radiating lines are not parallel to the main center alignment line). The closest competition is the $5 PUTTINGTOOL COIN (note to marketing people: enough with the trend toward branding products with ALL CAPS; it will not make us ANY MORE LIKELY TO PURCHASE THE PRODUCT), which is also a disc, but smaller in size (24.5mm diameter and 0.1 ounces) and made of metal. Aside from size and material, the main difference is that the PUTTINGTOOL features additional alignment lines, like rays of the sun – the center one intended to line up the ball and putt, and the others to help make adjustments when lining up the ball. There is also the PUTTINGTOOL SHIELD, which retails for $10. This design is similar, though the tool is shaped like a shield (31.75mm across, 30.1mm deep and 0.2 ounces), allowing it to match the curvature and tuck under the ball when lining up.
The other alignment marker available at the high-end of the market is the Scotty Cameron Ball Tool. No longer available on the Scotty Cameron website, the tool can be found on eBay. Depending on design, the Scotty Cameron Ball Tool sells in the range of $40 to an absurd $130 (clearly we are in the wrong business).
Since introducing the product, WarSpec has increased to the number of colors available to include lime, orange, pink, blue, and grey. There also are five different limited edition designs available for those looking for a chip with a bit more personality; we bet there are more to come (Hey WarSpec, how’s about a limited edition CriticalGolf version?).
Retail price: $8.00 ($12.00 for Limited Edition Chips)
MilSpec: Available only from MilSpec