Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Putters Buyer's Guide 2007
In 2007, it's easier than ever to find a putter that's designed exactly for you
If you’ve ever been humbled after having your stroke analyzed at one of those high-tech putting studios, you know why the adage “feel is not real” is, well, real. After all, when examined under a microscope, all the flaws of your stroke are magnified. Your path goes left, your clubface is open, you hit everything off the toe—the data doesn’t lie and sometimes all that bad news is enough to make you want to impale your flatstick into the monitor. What’s important to keep in mind, however, is that our strokes demand specific kinds of putters. Whether it’s mallet, blade, movable weights or specific inserts, there’s a putter for you.
Drivers aren’t the only clubs incorporating high MOI in their designs. A number of putters, like the Odyssey White Hot XG, place the weight deep and low to promote a truer roll. Also, its unique and light textured-weave insert helps move weight away from the face.
The newest offering from Never Compromise features movable weights in the club’s heel and toe, thereby creating a putter adaptable to specific course conditions and putting styles. The GM2 Exchange gives players the opportunity to alter the putter’s weight by as much as 50 grams.
Some putterfaces feature a one-of-a-kind Honeycomb face, others opt to soften their feel via a polymer insert. Rife Putters, however, include “RollGroove” Technology, in which milled grooves actually grip the ball and lift it from its depression, thus imparting forward spin and a better roll.
Milled, Not Cast
PING putters of the '70s and '80s set the standard for all the heel-toe-weighted models that followed. Now they’re back with a few of these early classic models (like the Redwood Anser). But there’s a twist: They’re 100-percent precision-milled from 303 stainless steel.
Putter Shopping 101
Here at Golf Tips, we’re a fortunate lot. Over the course of the year, we get to test new putters regularly, rolling putts on the local practice green or, more commonly, down our office’s hallway. We know that’s not how most golf nuts find their new clubs; they see what’s hot on Tour, walk into their local pro shop, pick up a bunch of new sticks and make a couple of strokes. Based on the way it looks, feels or fits them (or all of the above), they decide whether it’s worth sticking in their bag. But that’s not the only way. When buying a putter, there are a number of technical matters to consider, such as whether your stroke arcs (blades) or is more straight-back/straight-through (mallets). Also, putters with heavy (good for slower greens) and oversized (straight-back/straight-through strokes) grips are coming on the market. The more you know about your game, the better your purchases will be.
Understanding Our Charts
Features: The primary design elements that make the putter noteworthy.
Advantages: How the primary design elements are meant to elevate the performance of the putter.
What We Like: We have our preferences, too. A quick description of what impressed us in our review and testing.
Lineup: The other models available from the manufacturer.
Putterhead: The primary material from which the body of the club is forged, cast or milled.
Putterface: Indicates the material used for the strike area or if it has otherwise been altered to enhance performance. Check for putters with a milled face, as the process, if performed correctly, ensures a flatter contact area, which is key for consistency.
Weight: The overall head weight of the model listed in grams. Most putters fall in the 325- to 350-gram range.
Designs: Here you’ll find a description of the general shape of the club and its hosel structure. We limit the descriptions to either heel-toe blades (Anser style) or mallets. Also, face-balancing is noted as is the hosel/head connection point. If a putter isn’t labeled as face-balanced, it’s considered toe-down.
|Adams DiXX Training Putter|
(800) 709-6142 | $1,000
The DiXX marks a technological breakthrough in the putting world. A tiny computer terminal attached to the putterhead offers instant feedback.
Features: The DiXX provides immediate information related to swing path, impact position, tempo, face angle and a swing’s “speed balance.”
Advantages: With the DiXX, you have an instructor with you wherever you go. Although it’s a little pricey, it’s cheaper than taking a lot of lessons at your local high-tech putting studio.
What We Like: Gadgets! Not only is it just plain cool, but the DiXX tells us where we need to improve immediately after we make a stroke. Also, it’s great for people who don’t have access to the latest in computer analysis. One other thing: Did we mention we love gadgets?
Lineup: DiXX Training Putter
Designs: Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet with a detachable computer
Cobra Optica Series
(800) 225-8500 | $159
The Optica is the world’s first putter to employ Fiber Optic Technology (in this case, via Cobra’s TruGlo technology) to help golfers get their putts lined up.
Features: An efficient weight distribution in the Optica provides forgiveness while the putter’s tri-material construction produces soft feel and dampens unwanted vibration. The TruGlo actually looks illuminated.
Advantages: Connecting the aluminum clubface to the steel bar is a urethane section that minimizes vibration, perfect for golfers who play by feel.
What We Like: The TruGlo alignment aid makes lining up putts a breeze.
Lineup: Optica Series, IM Series
Putterhead: 6061 forged Aluminum with Forged Steel weight bar
Putterface: 6061 forged Aluminum
Designs: SL-01—Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet; SL-02—Center-shafted, face-balanced mallet (available LH)
|F2 Hamilton Series|
(800) 683-2390 | $129
From the company that designed the popular f2 wedge come the Hamilton Series putters.
Features: Its MicroDome face insert ensures players will make better contact and hit straighter putts. Its perimeter back weighting increases the putter’s sweet spot and keeps mis-hits on-line and rolling the right distance. But no face-forward tech here!
Advantages: The Hamilton Series combines all the latest in face and weighting technology to create a putter that’s both cutting edge and user-friendly.
What We Like: The adjustable heel and toe weights make it easy to adapt to different green speeds. Also, the Hamilton Series comes in two different models.
Lineup: Hamilton Series
Putterhead: 17-4 Stainless Steel
Putterface: Proprietary Polymer
Designs: HM1—Offset-style hosel blade; HM4—Offset-style hosel mallet, heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet
|Fisher Talon Tour Series|
(800) 465-3473 | $179
A four-way insert and the ability to alter weight by as much as 100 grams? Yes.
Features: The TS-1 (pictured) face insert features different contact materials on each of its four sides, from extra-soft to extra-firm. This allows the user to adapt to different green conditions (or dial in feel) without altering the stroke.
Advantages: Customized feel is key, but so is the stability provided by the high-MOI design, complete with four different areas to adjust weight using three different metals.
What We Like: If this putter was any more trick, it would require batteries. The TS-2 and TS-3 models feature reversible inserts, but are no less prone to twisting on off-center hits.
Lineup: Talon Tour Series, Cobalt Series
Putterhead: Stainless Steel (milled)
Putterface: Kevflex polymer
Designs: TS-1, TS-2, TS-3—Heel-shafted, face-balanced mallet (available LH)
|Goolie BGS Series|
(858) 699-4331 | $179
A very sharp-looking and well-conceived design that earns
the title “game-improvement putter.”
Features: Goolie artfully combines an aluminum body with two nickel-chromium sections. The nickel has a specific gravity three times that of aluminum, which creates a high polar MOI.
Advantages: The resultant MOI and CG location (positioned directly in line with the strike area) successfully negates twisting during all segments of the stroke for more consistent contact. The CG also promotes more topspin for a truer roll.
What We Like: We really like the look and shape of the Goolie. If you need directional control on the greens, the BGS will help (especially the larger BGS-Ex model, pictured).
Lineup: BGS Series
Putterhead: Aluminum, Nickel Chromium (cast)
Putterface: Aluminum (milled)
Weight: Std. Designs: BGS-33, BGS-Ex—Heel- or center-shafted, face-balanced mallet
|Heavy Putter Matte Series|
(800) 546-2952 | $199
The “barbell of putters” now comes with a green aluminum plumber’s neck hosel and matte finish.
Features: Two models (blade and mallet) come with a plumber’s neck hosel that’s offset by one full shaft. Add to that a hefty 250-gram Winn grip and 475-gram putterhead, and you’ve got a putter that keeps the larger muscles engaged and the smaller muscles quiet.
Advantages: The heavy grip moves the club’s balance point 75% higher up the shaft than a conventional putter, making it easier to make a pendulum stroke.
What We Like: The weight, of course. It isolates the larger muscles and eliminates the yips. The nifty matte finish and green hosel ain’t too shabby, either.
Lineup: Matte Series, Original Series
Putterhead: Stainless Steel (CNC milled)
Designs: A2-M—Plumber’s neck, full shaft of offset, face-balanced blade; B2-M—Plumber’s neck, full shaft of offset, face-balanced mallet (available LH)
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