Golf impact bags are a popular training aid used by both amateurs and pros to improve their ball striking, but if you’re like me you’re probably wondering: do they actually work?
If you’ve landed on this page it means you’re likely considering buying a golf impact bag and want to know the answer to that question, along with getting some advice on which impact bag you should purchase.
If that is you, then keep reading! Because in this article I’ll take you through why impact bags can improve your ball striking, how to use them, and also review the three best golf impact bags on the market.
In summary, the best golf impact bags available in 2020 are:
- Dr Gary Wiren’s Golf Impact Training Bag
- Eyeline Golf Impact Cube
- SKLZ Smash Bag Golf Impact Swing Trainer
But while each of these bags has their pros and cons, one stands out above the rest…
My top pick
Having done my research, it’s clear to me the best impact bag in 2020 is Dr Gary Wiren’s Golf Impact Training Bag – which is remarkable, given it burst onto the scene some 38 years ago.
This high-quality product has been the benchmark for impact bags for almost four decades despite the constant changes and improvement in golf technology – to me, that is a huge endorsement for just how durable and everlasting this innovate training aid is.
I explain in more detail why I recommend Dr Gary Wiren’s Golf Impact Training Bag over other similar products in my full review later on in this article (if you wish to skip straight to it, click here).
But before I take you through the top three golf impact bags available in 2020, let’s answer a few common questions about these popular, but often misunderstood, training aids.
Table of contents
Are golf impact bags any good?
Golf impact bags are a tried and tested training aid which, if used correctly, will help you improve your ball striking.
More specifically, using an impact bag will help train your body, hips, arms and hands to move correctly throughout the golf swing to encourage the correct weight transfer and ‘shaft lean’ at the point of impact.
There are dozens of YouTube videos of golf instructors vouching for the effectiveness of golf impact bags in improving your game, which is reaffirmation that these training aids do in fact work to make you a more consistent golfer.
Now, you may be a little sceptical about how the simple action of hitting a bag could possibly turn you into a ball striking superstar – but don’t worry, I’m about to explain that too.
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What does a golf impact bag do?
One of the biggest – if not the biggest – technical aspects of the golf swing that beginners and amateurs struggle with is hitting their irons.
The average golfer sees the ball lying on the turf and naturally thinks in order to get it into the air, they have to try and scoop it off the fairway – rather than relying on the loft of the club to do all the work.
As a result, you’ll see a lot of beginner and high-handicap players ‘hang back’ on their trail leg rather than transferring their weight to their lead foot – and, as a result, their hands and wrists often ‘flip’ at the ball at impact leading to inconsistency and dreaded fat and thin shots.
The correct way to strike the ball with your irons is by having your club shaft, hands and wrists leaned forward at impact as demonstrated by this video screenshot from Top Speed Golf:
As popular YouTube golf instructor Peter Finch explains:
“To be more consistent (with your irons) you need your arc to be bottoming out after the point of impact with the ball. What that means is your club needs to be travelling downwards at the point of impact, not upwards like you’d do if you were hanging back and trying to flick (the ball into the air).”
That’s where the golf impact bag comes in.
Because of the way the impact bag is designed, it encourages the golfer to transfer their weight forward and move their body, hips, chest, arms and hands in the right manner and, as a result, produces the appropriate amount of shaft lean that results in an optimal ball slight.
How do you hit a golf impact bag?
In order to strike the impact bag correctly (with your club shaft leaning forward), your body will naturally move your weight into the heel of your lead foot, your chest and hips will open and your trail shoulder will be down behind the ball.
This creates that ‘classical’ impact position seen in many of the world’s best golfers.
Golf instructor Dan Whitaker explains it perfectly in this video below:
By repeating this motion time and time again, you will be training your subconscious mind about how the body, hips, chest, arms and hands should move correctly through impact when making your golf swing.
However, there are a few things to remember when training with an impact bag in order to achieve the best possible results:
Don’t swing as hard as you can
Many amateur golfers think the purpose of an impact bag is to belt it with your club as hard as possible, and that sending it flying across the room is proof of a good shot – but this could not be farther from the truth.
The point of the impact bag is not to see how hard you can hit it, but instead creating the feeling of your body moving correctly through your swing and arriving at the correct position to hit the golf ball.
For that reason, it’s recommended you strike the impact bag at around half or three-quarter pace.
Not only will this give you far better feedback on how you’re swinging the club, it will also protect you from a potentially nasty wrist or hand injury.
Try and get the club face square
One of the other great things about using an impact bag is that it trains you to square the club face at impact, which is essential to hit consistent, straight shots.
When you take your swing, pause at the point of impact with the bag – you’ll soon be able to see whether the club face is open (the heel will hit first), closed (the toe will hit first) or square (the leading edge will be flush with the bag).
Doing this repeatedly will help you get the correct ‘feel’ of where your hands and wrists should be at the point of impact with the ball.
Below is a great video showing how to correctly square your club face while using a golf impact bag:
Incorporate some real shots into your training
One of the greatest frustrations for golfers is making the perfect practice swing, but then doing something completely different once you place a ball in front of you.
You wonder: why was my practice swing so good, yet my actual swing so bad? We’ve all been there.
The simple reason is that bad habits are hard to break, and it takes hours and hours of correct practice for your good, new habits to start to become second nature.
The best way to see fast results with your ball striking is to incorporate your impact bag into your training.
The idea is to try and replicate the same swing when the ball is in front of you, and doing this over and over again will soon groove the correct body, hips, chest, arms and hand motions into your ball striking – leading to better consistency.
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Can I make a homemade golf impact bag?
While golf impact bags are very affordable, you can save money by making your own from common, everyday items laying around the house.
A popular way to create a homemade golf impact bag is taking a fabric bag or pillow case and filling it with old clothes, bed sheets or other similar materials – however, you’ll find it won’t work as well as the real thing due to the fabric being less durable than the tried and tested designs available online.
You’re more than likely to puncture the outside of your homemade bag with your club after a few strikes.
With impact bags being extremely affordable my honest advice is just to bite the bullet and purchase a proper one – it will save you the fiddly work of making your own, and gives you the confidence knowing you’re using a training aid that is high-quality.
Best golf impact bags in 2020
If you’re considering investing in a golf impact bag – and if you’re serious about improving your ball striking, I’d say it’s a very worthwhile purchase – then there are three clear standouts available online.
Below, I’ve reviewed each of the impact bags I would recommend if you’re wanting to become a more consistent player.
Dr Gary Wiren’s Golf Impact Training Bag
The Dr Gary Wiren impact bag really is the grandfather of golf impact bags globally.
It’s also my top pick when it comes to golf impact bags, and I’ll explain why.
Created in 1982 – yes, almost 40 years ago – this product is still going strong and has stood the test of time, which is reassuring for you and I as buyers.
After all, if after almost four decades on the market this golf impact bag is still widely considered to be the “gold standard”, you know it must be of the highest quality.
Dr Wiren, a pioneering PGA Master Professional instructor who is now in his 80s, many years ago described his golf impact bag as “one of the most successful learning devices ever created”.
“The impact bag is an idea I got from Henry Cotton, five-time British Open champion and a great, great player. He wanted people to hit into a tyre, which was much harsher, to get the idea of where the club and body should be – (to do that) you must feel resistance. We took a different path and got a soft product, where you can feel the same kind of resistance but feel where your body is for a correct golf shot.”
The impact bag comes in its trademark yellow color and has been described as durable, with the tough, vinyl material able to withstand thousands of repeated blows (which can sound rather loud if you’re swinging too hard).
One thing you should be aware of is that the bag will arrive empty, and you’ll need to stuff it full of old bed covers, towels or pillows before you can begin striking it.
If you want an impact bag that has been at the top of its game for almost 40 years, then you can’t go wrong with the Dr Gary Wiren Golf Impact bag.
Eyeline Golf Impact Cube
Brought to you by the company that created the popular Eyeline Golf Speed Trap swing aid, the Eyeline Golf Impact Cube is another of the highly-recommended golf impact bags available in 2020.
Developed in conjunction with Ed Bowe from the Amelia Island Plantation Golf Academy, the Eyeline Golf Impact Cube is constructed from ballistic nylon, making it super durable.
But what makes this impact bag unique is that each side of the cube is set at a different angle to mimic the correct shaft lean on specific clubs at impact.
For example, on side of the bag is set for a wedge, another side is set for a driver and another side is set for a seven iron – allowing you to get instant feedback telling you whether you have swung each of those clubs correctly or not.
This is far better than just bashing each club into the same hitting surface because shorter clubs, such as wedges or short-irons, should have more shaft lean than your longer irons or driver.
And because the sides are angled, you can also flip the bag over and use the slanted leading edge as a visual guide to keep your club on plane.
According to Eyeline Golf:
“(The Eyeline Golf Impact Cube) is going to help students unbelievably; they’re going to be hitting that ball so crisp. The impact cube is going to help them see and feel impact and, sometimes, even path.”
The only real concerns I have with the Eyeline Golf Impact Cube is, according to other buyers, the seams on the bag have been prone to splitting after sometimes minimal use, however this does seem to be a relatively rare occurrence.
When it does happen, from what I have read the company is always willing to send out a replacement.
Lastly, you will also have to fill the bag with old pillows, towels or bed sheets, as filling is not included with your purchase.
If you are looking for an impact bag that can train each individual club, but also double as a swing path trainer, then the Eyeline Golf Impact Cube does just that.
SKLZ Smash Bag Golf Impact Swing Trainer
When it comes to golf impact bags available today, the SKLZ Smash Bag Golf Impact Swing Trainer is up there as one of the most popular.
There is no impact bag more highly rated online, with almost 700 user reviews on Amazon giving this product an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars.
But what is it that makes the SKLZ Smash Bag stand so popular? One of the factors is without question brand reputation.
SKLZ is well-known for providing athletic performance and skill development products for use at home and in training environments – not just for golf, but for soccer, football, basketball, baseball, and general fitness too.
So, you know the SKLZ Smash Bag, which is created using PVC and nylon, is going to be of equally high-quality.
As golf instructor Ted Norby explained:
“Instructors have been using impact bags for quite a while, but the SKLZ Smash Bag does a couple of things a little differently and takes it a step farther.”
One of the big points of difference is the target on the bag – which clearly shows where the club face should strike the bag, and also what the correct shaft lean should be at impact for both left and right handed players.
This visual feedback is so important, especially for beginner and even intermediate golfers.
Similarly, the black color scheme gives this impact bag a sleek, classy look that other competitors on this list lack.
Like all impact bags, you will need to fill the SKLZ Smash Bag with towels, pillows or bed sheets before using it – filling is not included with your purchase.
The only concern I have about this product is its durability – a quick browse through the Amazon reviews reveals a common theme: that the bag can burst apart at the seams after minimal use (but is nothing some duct tape can’t fix).
While the overwhelming feedback is positive, this is certainly something to keep in mind when making your purchase.
Golf impact bags are undoubtedly an excellent training aid to improve your body movement and will help you develop that sought-after shaft lean impact position that is seen in all the best golfers in the world.
If you’re looking to try an impact bag to improve your swing, I’d certainly recommend Dr Gary Wiren’s Impact Training Bag as it’s been proven over many, many years to be extremely durable and achieve the desired results.
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