After surveying hundreds of the top golf instructors in the country, the Orange Whip has been No. 1 on our list of Top 25 Teaching & Training Aids for the last two years. It’s used by instructors at every level – including short-game guru Stan Utley, who conducted a clinic using the Orange Whip during last month’s PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day.
Utley is a great player in his own right. He competed in more than 200 events on the PGA Tour and still tees it up on the PGA Tour Champions on occasion. He’s become renowned for his short game teachings and spends many weeks traveling the PGA and LPGA Tour circuits with his students.
Between playing and teaching, Utley found the time to work with the team from Orange Whip on the development of a new product: The Orange Whip Wedge. Noticeability different from the original model, the Orange Whip Wedge has a club head at the end of the whippy shaft. This allows users to actually hit balls while developing a smooth rhythm and tempo for their wedges.
“Orange Whip swing trainers provide instant swing feedback plus assistance with rhythm, balance and sequence,” says Utley. “Adding the wedge to this formula will help golfers develop all those things in their short game, while also adding consistency and timing to their short shots.”
The Orange Whip Wedge will be available in May of this year.
Original Orange Whip Continues to be Successful and Relevant for Teachers
The key for any successful teaching and training aid is simplicity. A good product often doesn’t require a lot of set up or an understanding of difficult concepts. It simply shows a student exactly what the swing should look and/or feel like. Such is the case with the Orange Whip Swing Trainer. The philosophy behind PGA Professional Jim Hackenberg’s development of The Orange Whip was to take the focus away from trying to achieve various club positions during the swing or trying to hit the ball. Instead, he wanted the student to simply focus on the motion of the swing, and the results spoke for themselves.
“For some reason, it might just be the more weighted club, the Orange Whip really encourages the proper swing plane,” says PGA Master Professional Andy Hilts (pictured), the vice president of instruction and education at GolfTEC Headquarters in Centennial, Colorado. “Perhaps it also has something to do with not worrying about getting the ball airborne.”
Swing plane improvement was not the first benefit thought of by Hackenberg when he developed the Orange Whip. It’s main focus was improving swing tempo and developing strength and flexibility. However, if there is one thing PGA Professionals know, it is how to find unintended benefits to help their students’ games.
“Golf pro ingenuity!” Hilts exclaims, chuckling. “We are resourceful enough to figure out new ways to use every product. Even if it means using it the same way it was designed and just recognizing added benefits.”
Hilts does not use The Orange Whip in any radical way. He just has his students swing it to loosen up and to get a feel for where and how the club should travel throughout the course of the swing. “I have always been fascinated by how different people learn,” says Hilts. “The more skilled players generally have better spatial awareness and can feel the difference in their swing when swinging with the Orange Whip. Higher-handicappers might not feel the difference, but once we put their normal swing on video and compare it to their swing with the Orange Whip, everyone can visually see the change.”
Another big appeal of The Orange Whip is the ability to use it indoors or outdoors. Hilts sees a lot of people purchase the training aid who are looking for something they can use to improve while indoors during the winter or extended off times. Hilts is in a unique position. As vice president of instruction at GolfTEC Headquarters, not only does he give lessons, he’s also responsible for training and mentoring the 650 GolfTEC coaches at more than 190 locations worldwide. In fact, it was one of the GolfTEC coaches who first showed Hilts the Orange Whip after the inventor, Hackenberg, had given it to the coach to try. Each golf coach hired has to go through GolfTEC University where, among other exercises, they spend half of a day strictly on training aids and how to use them.
“It’s often the GolfTEC coaches who discover useful training aids and share them with my team at GolfTEC HQ,” says Hilts. “The Orange Whip is a great product, but we don’t try to oversell it. We limit big posters to try and keep the look and feel of our Improvement Centers as clean as possible,” Hilts says. “Within the lessons it is promoted, but we don’t highlight it over another product. We have 20- 25 required training aids that must be in each center and the Orange Whip is on the list.”