The Orange Whip Trainer: Swinging with Jim Hackenberg

The Orange Whip Trainer: Swinging with Jim Hackenberg

This interview is a LONG time coming. I have known Jim for many years, and see him at pretty much every golf show I attend. I was hoping to conduct this interview at the PGA Merchandise Show, but that didn’t work out. Good thing, as I was sick for most of my time in Orlando. Anyway, Jim is the guy behind the Orange Whip, a golf training aid that I use before every round of golf. I use it to stretch, then I use it to find rhythm in my swing. For the longest time I was pushing the ball right, but thanks to the Orange Whip, I am forcing myself into a more tuned swing and have been hitting drives with a draw. I know, right? I don’t draw the ball! I also had a short lesson with Jesus Martinez from Papago Golf Course here in Phoenix, Arizona. With those swing thoughts and the motion that the Orange Whip forces me to make, I have fixed the push and my misses are now right, if anything.

When I first talked to Jim about this interview, he was excited to be a part of the blog. We tried to do this over the phone, and like I said, at the PGA Show. Regardless, we FINALLY sat down and knocked this thing out. I have an Orange Whip in my bag, and will use it until the thing falls apart. It’s fun, when hitting balls on the range, to have other players ask what I am using and ask to see/use the training aid. I also see the thing for sale all over the place including my favorite golf retailers here in Scottsdale. Jim has done wonders for himself, and I am excited to learn more about the Orange Whip. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Jim Hackenberg, inventor of the Orange Whip.

You used to teach at Edgartown Gofl Club. You haven’t been there since 2007. Do you miss teaching?

I miss the feeling of working with a golfer and watching him or her develop their own athletic golf swing to get positive results. I still work with friends and their golf swings, but not for an income; strictly for fun! I wouldn’t say I miss teaching full-time, as it can be a grind, but I do miss working with a passionate golfer seeking improvement.

When you left Edgartown Golf Club, you started Jimmy Hack Golf, LLC. Tell me a little bit more about your company.

The idea of starting my own business came after I started using the Orange Whip prototypes during my golf lessons (they weren’t named the Orange Whip then; just called a swing trainer) and many of my students asked if they could buy this “thing” from me. That’s when the light bulb went off for me. My main goals for the company were to produce a high quality product in the United States, to provide great customer service, and to stand behind the product with a guarantee.    The company started with only me, then my niece Mandy joined me shortly after I started. Today I have eight full-time employees, and I think (better yet hope) they enjoy working here.

The Orange Whip… such a simple training aid, but one that has helped me stop missing right. Where did the idea for the Orange Whip come from?

As an instructor, my goal was to encourage my students to learn a more reliable golf swing motion. What is it that good players do, that bad players don’t? I had the opportunity to caddy for a friend on the PGA TOUR for a couple years; this allowed me the ability to watch the best players in the world and how they go about hitting balls so effortlessly. I started seeing the pros swinging the golf club as if it was a ball on the end of a chain. (Imagine the medieval weapon the Mace and Chain.) The only way to swing a device like this is to synchronize your arms and body into a natural rhythm, like the tour pros. So the idea came from this concept, but early on in my prototype development I had to switch from a spiked steel ball to an orange rubber ball and the chain was replaced with a very flexible shaft, all in the name of safety!

Why did you decide to call it the Orange Whip?

I knew that there would be a ball on the end of the flexible shaft because I did not want a clubface. With a clubface, it either has to be left or right handed, so that limits some uses of the device for certain golfers. Plus, I believe most golf swing problems stem from people trying to control the clubface during their swing, leading to awkward golf swings. Since there was going to be a ball on the end of the shaft, it needed to be a vibrant color so the user could see it swinging on a path in front of them. Orange was the obvious choice for me because it is my favorite color and the ball was approximately the same size as the fruit. The motion being taught to the golfer is a whipping motion, hence the name the Orange Whip.

I actually saw The Orange Whip at Van’s Golf the other day. Where can folks use one? Where can folks buy one?

Golfers can try the Orange Whip at many golf retail stores including Van’s, GolfSmith, Golf Galaxy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lumpy’s, Roger Dunns, PGA Superstores, and many golf courses around the country. We have a dealer page on our website that can assist the golfer in finding the nearest location to try the Orange Whip.

The Orange Whip can be purchased at any of the stores listed above or on our dealer page, or on our website. Use promo code RLP for a discount!

What is the Orange Peel?

The Orange Peel is a balance platform that will center your core and promote a much more powerful rotation in your golf swing. The Peel is the size of boogie board and placed on the ground. The surface you stand on is concave, so it resembles standing at the bottom of a nine-foot diameter sphere.  Also, by simply moving the position of your feet on the peel, you can create any lie angle you could find on the golf course; uphill, downhill, or side-hill.

You seem to have branded the whole “orange” thing. Is that your favorite color?

Yes, I really like orange ever since I was a little kid; maybe because I loved orange soda from McDonalds? Also, I graduated from Oregon State University, and the school colors are orange and black.

Can people order a custom Orange Whip with a different color or with graphics?

We have had multiple requests for custom Orange Whips, but I’m not ready to change the color of the ball. We are able to place a customized logo on the orange ball for special events, which is very popular for member/guest tournaments.

What is your home golf course?

I play most of my golf at Smithfields Country Club in Easley, South Carolina which is the town where I started my business. There are a number of very good courses in the area, so I am spoiled with good opportunities for golf.

Are there any guys on the PGA TOUR using The Orange Whip?

Yes, we have over 100 PGA TOUR pros currently using the Orange Whip, over 50 on the Champions Tour, and over 30 on the LPGA. We do not pay any of these players to use the Orange Whip; they choose to practice with it. In 2012, 47 of the top 125 money winners on the PGA TOUR used the Orange Whip regularly.

Is it legal to carry the Orange Whip during a round?

Yes, the Orange Whip is legal to carry in your golf bag because the USGA has stated it does not qualify as a golf club, so you would not affect the 14 club rule. I must warn you that a golfer is not allowed to swing the Orange Whip during a competition or tournament as that would be a penalty.

Besides just swinging The Orange Whip, how else can golfers use the training aid?

The Orange Whip also works well for stretching and strengthening, which we describe at our website and on our YouTube channel. Daily use of the Orange Whip will also improve coordination and balance. Plus, the Orange Whip is great to break icicles off your roof in the winter!

There are three models to choose from. How do I know which model is right for me?

This is a difficult question to answer quickly since there are many variables to consider. For me, the three sizes equate to different golf shots. The Orange Whip Trainer (47.5 inches long, 46 inch swing length) is great for driver practice. The Orange Whip Golden (44 inches long, 42 inch swing length) is more suited for irons and hybrids. The Orange Whip Hickory (38” long,  36” swing length) is great for short irons, chipping, and putting.

The golfer’s height is a consideration for Whip choice, but so is ability, so I really encourage testing the three versions and see which one fits the best for your needs.

What happens if I purchase an Orange Whip, and it breaks? Do you offer any money-back guarantees?

Yes, we offer a manufacturer’s warranty if the Orange Whip happens to break during normal usage, for a full refund or replacement. We have made the Orange Whip very durable, and the few breaks we have had usually are a result of improper usage. We are proud to honor the warranty or replacement option because it rarely happens and it keeps customers happy.

Also, we have a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with your Orange Whip for any reason. So, there is no risk in just giving it a try!

Do you think Tiger will break Jack’s record?

Yes, I think Tiger will break Jack’s record, but it will take a while yet; the world is catching up to Tiger.

How many of these have you sold?

We have sold approximately 92,000 units since I started selling Orange Whips in January 2008. We should reach 100,000 by summer. Also, we are growing each year and we hope that trend continues!

There are four majors on the PGA TOUR. What is your favorite major tournament?

The Masters!!! For many reasons… 1. Augusta, 2. Coordination of the event, 3. The participants, 4. The TV Coverage, 5. The traditions, and many more reasons. My second favorite major is the US Open.

Sorry I missed you at the PGA Merchandise Show. Do you travel to other golf shows, or just the PGA Show in Orlando?

Yes, we take part in multiple golf trade shows each spring (we call January through March “Trade Show Season”. This year we did ten consumer trade shows, aside from the PGA Merchandise Show. The shows were in the Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, South, Southeast and Northeast, so we covered the country. In the fall we have “Teaching Summit Season” and we attend about 7-10 instruction seminars to network with golf pros all over the country. I was fortunate to be able to speak at three events last fall and discuss the Orange Whip and Peel and how they relate to golf instruction.

What is No Positions Required?

This is a book written by a good friend of mine and 3rd Generation PGA professional, Mike Kingsrud. He has a great background in golf and has worked with some of the top instructors in the country. The book explains how and why the Orange Whip works, plus it provides drills for golfers to learn new skills.

It seems the Orange Peel works well with the Orange Whip. Is it possible to use one without the other?

The Orange Peel and the Orange Whip are individual products that work very well together. Since the Peel focuses on balance and rotation, and the Whip synchronizes the arms and body motion to create an athletic use of your body, by using the two products together speeds up the learning process.

Have you ever had a hole-in-one?

I’ve been fortunate to have had four of them! My first one as a 19 year old; it was in Arizona and I was playing with a good friend.

I played last weekend and had 36 putts! I need help. What is the Green Envy?

The Green Envy is a putter concept that I have been working on as long as the Orange Whip Trainer, but I’m now just getting close to bringing out my first version. The concept I have designed is a putter head that is ambidextrous (right and left handed) with a spherical putter face, this allows for ball-to-ball impact. The ball-to-ball impact leads to a better roll of the golf ball if center contact is made. The radius of the ball face is much greater than the ball (16 inch, compared to .8 of an inch for the ball), therefore making it easier to make center contact. Originally, I was designing the putter for use with a regular putting shaft, but we decided to put an Orange Whip shaft into it for practice and liked the way it felt. So we have decided to bring out this putter idea as a trainer and call it the Orange Whip Putting Wand. The Green Envy Putter will be ready for the 2014 PGA Show, this will be the version used for golfing and competition.

The Orange Whip is in golf shops all over the place. How do you keep them all straight?

Fortunately, I have organized a team of employees to focus on such details, along with the great invention: QuickBooks. We have worked very hard to keep our office and the records in order so we can be prepared for any situation that may arise. We have also worked with quality accounting firms since the beginning.

Do you offer any incentives for golf pros to sell these to their students?

We sell to golf pros at a wholesale price, and they retain the margin as they sell to their students. For those golf pros who do not want to carry stock, we offer a promo code program. This program allows golf pros to create a promo code specifically for them to provide to clients. If their client uses the promo code at our website, the client receives $10 off the product and the golf pro earns referral compensation.

Do you use any other training aids? If so, which ones do you like?

I have a few other training aids at my house, but only use them sparingly. I use the Orange Whip and Peel almost daily and more just before a tournament. The other devices available that I like are The Whippy Tempomaster, the Tour Striker, the Putting Arc, and The Speed Stik.

What’s next for Jim Hackenberg?

We have a short game Orange Whip (probably going to be called the Orange Chip) which will have a wedge club head on the end of an Orange Whip shaft. This device will improve the rhythm of the chipping and sand play motion. We hope this is ready for the 2014 PGA Show.

Thank you SO much for doing this. I know it was a long time coming. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my company and the ideas behind the Orange Whip products. The first five years have been very good and I’ve received a very good education into the world of business through my experiences. If the next five years are as good as the first five, the ride should be great!

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