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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Putting Arc MS III

Putting Arc MS III

Score

92

Grade

A-

The Putting Arc MSIII is one of those training aids that is so simple in concept that you wish you had thought of it first. It’s essentially is a piece of plastic, squared off on 3 sides, arced on the 4th. Simply stand over the Putting Arc, place the heel of your putter against the arced side, and take the putter back and through. Repeat over and over again, and you will develop muscle memory for a “swinging gate” putting stroke (see “Teaching Value” below).

The Putting Arc can be used on either a practice putting mat or an actual green (although you are cautioned against staying on any single spot on a green for too long lest you damage the grass).

It’s a useful tool for developing a consistent putting stroke, although, like most things that are good for us, it can start to feel like drudgery after awhile.

SCORE
92
GRADE
A-
Setup
100
Teaching Value
94
Fun
84
Construction/Durability
100
Cost/Value
91

Pros:

  • Simple concept for learning a particular stroke
  • Easy set-up
  • Tough and durable

Cons:

  • It won’t help you if you use a “square to square” putting stroke (it only teaches a “swinging gate” stroke)
  • Not high on the fun factor

Retail price: $69.95


100 / A+

SETUP

The Putting Arc MSIII is easy to set up – you simply place it on the ground, parallel to the desired putting line. So simple, even a caveman can do it.


94 / A

TEACHING VALUE

The Putting Arc MSIII is designed as a tool to promote a “swinging gate” putting stroke, where the path of the putter head is an arc. With a “swinging gate” stroke, the putter rotates slightly around the player’s body in a manner analogous to the way other clubs do during a full swing. The other school of thought on putting is a “straight back/straight through” (or “square to square”) stroke, where the putter face is always squared (looking down at the putter, the putter head moves in a straight line). “Straight back / straight through” is generally easier for beginners to execute, as they can look down and see when the putter is veering off of the line. But most advanced golfers use the “swinging gate” since it’s much harder to consistently hit long putts without some rotation (think about the difficulty of repeating a straight back / straight through stroke when a long backswing is involved).

The trick with the “swinging gate” style is to create the muscle memory to execute a stroke with the appropriate arc on the backswing and follow-through and a squared putter face at impact. Does the Putting Arc MSII help you do this? Yes it does – as stated above, you just put the heel of the putter against the arced side and putt, all the while keeping the heel against the arc. But those expecting some kind of instant magic won’t find it here – what the device does is provide a framework to develop the muscle memory, but you still need to groove the stroke by repeating it over and over again.

Note that the Putting Arc MSIII doesn’t help you learn to use your shoulders to execute the stroke instead of your hands. So if you practice incorrectly, you can still end up with a “handsy” stroke that will work fine when you’re relaxed but will be less reliable when you get a little nervous and your grip gets tight.

One final factor to consider is that if you have a mallet putter with an extremely rounded heel, it’s a bit more of a challenge to keep the heel properly in contact with the arced side. Most mallets still have a squared-off heel (if for no other reason than to provide visual cues for properly aligning the putt), but some of the Odyssey putters, the TaylorMade Rossa and the Guerin Rife Barbados are pretty round. We’re not saying that the Putting Arc MSIII won’t work with those putters, but it requires greater focus from the player to derive the same level of benefit.


84 / B

FUN

There isn’t much pizzazz to the Putting Arc MSIII – it’s basically a block of plastic that you use as a tool to memorize the stroke. Because the intent of the device is to square the face of the putter at impact, if you properly align it with the hole when you initially lay it on the ground, there won’t be any real mystery about whether the ball is going to go in or not. It basically becomes set the ball down, make the putting stroke, fish the ball out of the hole and repeat. The length of the Putting Arc MSIII enables you to vary the length of your backstroke, so you can mix it up a bit by putting from a variety of distances. But truth be told, the Putting Arc MSIII is a bit like eating your vegetables when you’re a kid – sure, it’s good for you, but it’s not as much fun as wolfing down a piece of chocolate cake.


100 / A+

CONSTRUCTION / DURABILITY

The Putting Arc MSIII is 33 inches long and only weighs about 2.2 lbs., so it’s portable enough if you want to bring it to the local putting green, but heavy enough to stay in place when you’re practicing. It’s a sturdy and thick piece of plastic, so it should last as long as you want to use it. This sucker will probably survive far longer than any of us.


91 / A-

COST / VALUE

We had a fair amount of debate about the “value” rating for the Putting Arc MSIII – on the one hand, the MSRP of $69.95 seems a bit exorbitant for what is essentially a big shaped block of plastic. On the other hand, it does a nice job of teaching the proper stroke. We decided that the equivalent price of about 2 dozen high end golf balls isn’t too much to pay to shave a few strokes off of your game. Maybe if they just marketed it as some kind of space-age polymer, we’d feel better about it…

We note that there is a lightweight version (the Putting Arc T3) that retails for $35.95, and a fancy version made of wood (the Putting Arc Deluxe, which weighs a whopping 8 pounds) that sells for $89.95.