Ask any golfer, pro or amateur, what is the one thing they’re always working on and the least surprising answer is bound to be their swing. Those that have found it are desperately trying to maintain it. While those that have lost it will stop at nothing to reclaim it. As for the golf industry, it’s a never-ending opportunity to come up with new products to help golfers play better. Some stick, some don’t.
As far as I know, there’s never been a single swing trainer that has universally helped all golfers consistently improve their ball striking, but the DST Compressor, with its rapidly growing fan base, is trying to disprove that notion. The golf club with a curved shaft that helps golfers improve their impact position started out as a curiosity on the pro tours a little over a year ago, but now you can’t walk the length of a range at a PGA Tour event without seeing at least half the field warming up with one.
It’s actually a pretty amazing story in and of itself that the hottest piece of equipment in the game – helping its players rack up 70 wins worldwide and counting – isn’t a driver or an iron or a putter, but a training aid. Too good to be true? Not if you’re one of the 18 of the top 25 players in the world with a DST Compressor in the bag. But what if you’re just an average weekend player? Can this slightly odd-looking golf club really help your game?
Golf has never had a shortage of training aids in the marketplace. Gizmos to improve your takeaway, chest straps that prevent you from over-swinging, braces you can wear on your hand to keep your lead wrist from cupping. I won’t even bother mentioning all the failed concepts that have come and gone promising to rid you of your slice.
Let’s put our natural skepticism aside for a moment and review what makes the DST Compressor uniquely different. For one thing, it takes into consideration that there’s no such thing as a universal swing model. Look no further than guys like Adam Scott, Ryan Moore and Bubba Watson – three accomplished players who couldn’t look any more different taking the club back to the top of their swing. Yet what they all have in common (which is true of all great ball strikers) is the ability to consistently deliver the club correctly at impact; with recreational players, what the club does at impact can vary with every swing – sometimes substantially.
The best way to integrate the DST Compressor into your range sessions is to start off chipping with it, building up to a full swing.
So what the DST Compressor does is pretty damn simple. It teaches you to locate, train and improve your impact position so that your golf club consistently hits the back of the ball instead of a couple of inches behind it. How it does this is also pretty simple, yet clever.
The DST Compressor kind of looks like a typical iron or a wedge with a few not-so-subtle differences. The club is designed with a curved shaft and a wide sole that naturally wants to orientate itself horizontally on the ground in the set up position, encouraging you to forward-press the handle towards your lead shoulder.
For those of us who are unaccustomed to having our hands so far in front of our shirt buttons, the preferred DST address position feels very unusual, even uncomfortable at first. But many of the game’s best ball strikers including Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy have addressed the ball with their hands just forward of center and the shaft leaning towards the target before initiating the start of their backswing. Bertie Cordle, the founder of DST Golf, believes as many instructors do, that this pre-set position simplifies the golf swing and eliminates a lot of extraneous movement.
When you swing the DST, the club will train you to return the club face to the same position through impact but with your weight transferred to your lead foot. You’ll know you’re doing it right if it feels like your hands are well ahead of the club shaft in your downswing as you rotate your body to the finish; or as the makers of the DST describe it:
The DST Compressor promotes a swinging motion where the ball just “gets in the way of” the club head and is trapped between the club head and turf, rather than a hitting motion where the ball becomes the target in the swing.
What To Expect:
I had heard all along that using the DST Compressor might be awkward at first. There’s even a rumor floating around that a former U.S. Open Champion shanked his first shot swinging a DST club. Apparently so have many other players far less talented.
As for myself, I don’t ever recall shanking one, but that might be a case of selective memory. I do, however, remember hitting plenty of equally awful shots – hooks, skulls and pop ups – during the first few weeks of testing. Any attempts to quote-on-quote cheat the club to produce a desirable ball flight failed miserably.
In order to hit a quality golf shot, you have to swing it as it was intended, keeping your hands “ahead of the line of tension at impact” as the makers of the DST like to say in all their promotional materials. The feeling you want to create is that of the club head lagging behind and pinching the ball off the turf. If you’re the kind of golfer who has struggled with shifting their weight to the target side of the ball or someone who uses their hands to flip at the ball at the last second, the DST will magnify your errors.
The fact is, for most players, the DST Compressor will be a test of a person’s patience and resolve as you learn to hit the golf ball flush. The best way to integrate the DST Compressor into your range sessions is to start off chipping with it, building up to a full swing. I also recommend alternating between the DST and your regular irons so that you’re continuously blending and ingraining your new motor pattern. After a while, it should start to feel more natural, allowing you to focus on the golf shot, and not the golf swing.
Things To Consider:
I had the DST pitching wedge shipped to me. It’s a little more compact than the standard length DST Compressor which is the equivalent of an eight iron. While not as popular as the standard model, the versatility of the pitching wedge ended up being a bonus, allowing me to practice all those different feel shots around the green.
From a scoring standpoint, there’s little question that ball-striking (shots from 100 yards and out) has the most substantive impact on your playing potential as a golfer. It’s also a time-consuming endeavor. Meanwhile, there’s the short game – a perennial low-hanging fruit that can help higher handicap players knock several strokes off their card with just a little practice and the right technique. And that’s where the DST wedge can help.
For anyone who has struggled with picking the ball clean off a tight fairway lie with a lofted club, the DST will improve your mechanics within weeks, if not days. That little brush motion you practice with the DST Compressor in which you’re encouraged to lead the club head through the hitting zone without flipping the handle is the hallmark of a solid and dependable chipping game. I can honestly say that my confidence around the greens has skyrocketed since working with the DST. But as for the long game, it’s been much harder to quantify the value.
I’d love to be able to tell you that the DST Compressor has made me 10, 15, or even 20 yards longer, or that I’m hitting twice as many greens per regulation. But this review isn’t an infomercial. I think each person’s experience using the DST Compressor is going to be different, but if there’s a single universal consideration to be aware of – it’s that of time. Those players who can make a routine out of hitting balls at the range with the DST are going to get more bang for their buck than golfers like myself who are only practicing a couple of times a month because life just gets in the way.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been golfing for the past seven years and this has been my best season. As a Northeast golfer, it took me a while to get my game back in the Spring, but I blistered the Summer with nine straight rounds in the 80s and a career-best 82. There were plenty of factors involved: a few golf lessons, better course management and a positive attitude. I can also credit the DST Compressor for helping my short game and for making my average iron shots more functional.
I began this article chronicling the success the DST Compressor has had in the hands of professional golfers and it seems appropriate to close with a few additional remarks that touch upon that subject.
Since the DST Compressor first began gaining traction on the PGA and European Tours, more than 250 players, none of whom are getting paid by DST, have endorsed it. That’s pretty heady stuff that speaks volumes about the product’s credibility. But let me throw out a word of caution.
It’s crucial that as average golfers, we keep our expectations from reaching disproportional heights. All those world-class players practicing with a DST Compressor on a daily basis would still be successful even without one. For them, the swing trainer is a merely a tool (albeit a good one) that reinforces or enhances their substantial ability to hit a golf ball. I mean, let’s face it – anyone driving the ball 300 yards with a 3-wood is playing a completely different game than we are.
That’s no knock on the DST Compressor. It’s a solid, no-nonsense product designed to help nearly all golfers improve their ability to hit the ball, but expecting a 20-handicapper to get down to single digits just through the casual use of a swing aid is the ultimate reach.
For that reason, I would argue that players who have already developed solid ball-striking fundamentals will get more value from a DST Compressor than a typical beginner. Basically, anyone with a mid-level handicap or lower should consider buying one, especially given the fact that the DST Compressor costs less than the price of a brand new wedge. If nothing else, it can help you sharpen your chipping and pitching mechanics in the short term. And if you think you have the patience and discipline to use it for an extended period of time, there’s a good chance it can have a positive affect on your long game as well.