Long driver invents aid for golfers
By: Kevin Oklobzija April 3, 2019
A quick quiz:
What do you get when you take a piece of cloth about the size of a hand towel and connect it to a flexible cord and rigid handle?
If you guessed a kite that won’t fly, you’re correct.
Ryan Steenberg, World Long Drive Tour participant, is marketing a golf swing training aid aimed at adding yardage to tee shots.
If you said a Twitch Trainer, you’re also correct. And the maker says if you put his contraption to use, you’ll probably add anywhere between 10 to 25 yards on your drives from the tee box.
Ryan Steenberg, the mastermind behind the golf gadget, knows just a little bit about hitting a golf ball insane distances, too. Steenberg, 35, is a member of the World Long Drive Tour, finished second in the 2016 World Long Drive Championship, has hit a ball off the tee 485 yards in competition and carries a 3-handicap at his home course of Monroe Golf Club.
He’s also a certified trainer and operates 4 Performance, a fitness and lifestyle training facility in Perinton Square. He’s fanatical about golf, fitness and training athletes.
Now he and his partners in Twitch Trainer hope to help golfers young and old, hackers to PGA Tour dreamers, improve their swings and distance games. They even have one of the premier teachers of the game, Cameron McCormick, backing their belief that the product produces faster club speeds, maximizes rotational efficiency and reprograms motion patterns.
“It’s the best swing-speed training aid I’ve ever used,” McCormick says in the promotional video created by Pittsford-based Jay Advertising and set to debut next week on Golf Channel during coverage of The Masters.
Believe it or not, this gadget may very well allow you to hit longer drives on the golf course.
The ad kicks off the major launch for the Twitch Trainer, a device eight years in the making. The idea hatched when Steenberg and a friend, who was a bio-mechanical engineer, began to study the science behind, of all things, the snapping of a towel. From that dive into stored elastic energy came the idea to find a way to be more efficient in creating speed in the golf swing.
“I bought a bunch of bath towels, got some tubing from the gym, borrowed my mother’s sewing machine and created some concepts,” said Steenberg, a Syracuse native who transformed from quarterback to linebacker while playing college football and earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science at Ithaca College.
By 2016, he was providing demonstrations of a finished product at the PGA merchandise show in Orlando, Fla. One problem: the cost of production meant profit margins were slim. The Twitch Trainer was selling for $149.99, well above what many consider the retail sweet spot of $100.
Additional investors, new contacts and a different manufacturer led to a better product and a better price: $99.99.
A major piece of the marketing puzzle, though, was landing McCormick’s endorsement. The 2015 PGA Teacher of the Year and longtime coach of PGA star Jordan Speith, McCormick came on board as a spokesman in the ad after trying the product himself, Steenberg said.
“The day he called me and said, ‘Let’s go, let’s do this,’ I was really excited,” Steenberg said.
At first glance, the Twitch Trainer looks more like something they wave at the finish line of a stock car race than an implement for the golf game. That’s almost intentional.
“Training aids have always felt and looked like golf,” said Steenberg, who in 2009 earned a master’s degree in medical illustration from Rochester Institute of Technology. “When you’re trying to teach something new, you need to focus on the movements. We’re trying to ingrain new habits. It’s all about feels, sensations; what the player needs to feel.”
“We’re reprogramming motion patterns. We’re taking a very complex movement and re-teaching the bite-size pieces to be very efficient.”
Because the product is a rotational trainer, there soon will be adaptations for baseball, lacrosse and hockey, other sports where rotational movement is an inherent characteristic of play.
“The baseball Twitch Trainer is exciting because the game is about 10 years behind,” Steenberg said. “They still swing weighted bats in the on-deck circle and they’ve been proven to be counterproductive. Weighted bats wake up the slow-twitch system (and swinging a bat efficiently requires fast-twitch high performance).”
If you hear a popping sound on Monday afternoon, that’s likely Steenberg opening a bottle to celebrate the Jay Advertising ad debut.
“To remember when I was in my basement with my mother’s sewing machine to watching my product show up on national coverage of The Masters, that’s what every entrepreneur and inventor hopes for,” he said.
Don’t expect to see ads for any Steenberg-invented device to help you putt better, though. “I’m one of the longest hitters on the planet,” he said. “They never cut me a check for putting the ball.”